As I discussed under “My Story” , the bullying I endured while in elementary school set me on an unhealthy path of fad diets that continued throughout my teenage years and into my 20’s. But the bullying didn’t stop after grade school. Despite moving to a different school district, the bullying continued in middle school. I remember walking into the girls’ locker room at the end of physical ed class one day and overheard a group of girls talking about how I looked in my gym suit.
One girl commented, “And Beth thinks I’m friends with her. Why would I be friends with that fat cow?” Of course, all of the other girls laughed at that…until they saw me come around the corner of the room. I still remember these girls very well and have to see them at class reunions.
They have no idea what those comments did to my self-confidence.
At my hallway locker, another boy I also still see at reunions who had his locker right next to mine would always say something mean about my weight. He and his friends would have a great laugh at my expense. The point I want to make is this: It’s extremely important to talk to your child if you suspect they may be getting bullied.
According to stopbullying.gov, kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic, and mental health issues. They are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. They might refuse to get up to go to school but won’t tell you why, or they may fake an illness. And, unfortunately, some bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures.
So if you suspect that your child or another child is being fat-shamed or bullied for another reason, please intervene by first talking with the child. If she or he is reluctant to speak with you about it, make sure you alert the child’s caregivers, teachers, coaches, and any other trusted adult in the child’s life to be on the lookout for signs of problems.
This is what my parents did, and it made a world of difference.