Challenging Weight-Based Oppression Through Critical Education
How did I know, from my first days in kindergarten, that I was fat and didn’t count the way other children did?
I was round-faced, slightly larger than my peers. I recall no overt statements, but by age 4, not quite 4, I knew that I was, indelibly, an outsider.
Was it the hint of disapproval in their voices when family members picked me up and pronounced the usual line, “My, you’re getting big”? Was it the other children who knew each other from preschool and showed me I had no place in their pecking order? Was it my teachers whose attention fell on me differently, especially as they oversaw snack time and exercise routines? Did my beautiful, brilliant, fat mother convey this knowledge to me via her unspoken concern that I might face precisely these attitudes and this treatment? However, I found out—I learned she was right. Nothing about me could mitigate my bottom-rung position on the weight hierarchy. It never occurred to me to try to lose weight because I couldn’t imagine anything I could do that would be enough to offset an exclusion that felt so thorough. (A feeling of futility for which I’m now deeply grateful. I’ve lived mostly free from the weight-loss industry’s self-hate rituals.) In grammar school, my teachers reprimanded the students who teased or bullied me if they found out about it, saying my tormentors were wrong to torment me. But they never said that the...
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