Monday, 19 August 2013
Call in the Fat Police
There are many things that public health officials do well - but every now and then a line is crossed where some well-meaning initiatives go a step too far. This is what is happening in Toronto where public schools are taking it upon themselves to start weighing kids as part of their war on obesity. They claim this is based on a successful American model - but as a former pudgy kid I can tell you no one needed to send me a letter or weigh me in front of my peers to clue me in to the fact I was overweight. Kids never let you forget it - and I can only imagine how many decades of advertising the paper-thin in their back to school garb has fed this intolerance and shame. I was the poster child for body humiliation - no outsider could possibly have reinforced how unacceptable I knew my shape was. And I can thank that and a steady stream of diets to rid myself of the pudge that were among the seeds of my life-long eating disorder. I keep seeing ads lately from Joe Fresh promoting skinny cords as part of their back to school shopping cash grab - and thinking of the 12 year-old girls and boys everywhere whose bodies will never, ever look like that - no matter how many meals they skip or apples they eat. Of course they are not the only offender, but there is not a model in that crowd who in any way compares to the unhappy teenage shoppers who will leave those stores with their hopes dashed, hating their bodies with a depth I can't possibly put into words. So back off fat police - and why not contemplate the power of self-respect.