When Peers are cruel and do not understand

Larger people or those who are above optimal weight for height too frequently suffer from teasing or derision by a society that tends to be intolerant of overweight, and misunderstands the truth about the causes of overweight and ways to conquer overeating.

What would you do in these scenarios?

  1. An overweight girl is afraid to get on the school bus because every time she does, certain boys on the bus make fun of her and call her names.
  1. An overweight teenage boy can’t find friends.  People ask him why he looks the way he does and he doesn’t learn to take care of himself.
  1. A young woman who is overweight got dressed up for a school dance and was told by two guys that she should not wear the kind of clothes she had on because she is fat.

Common misconceptions are that overweight people are lazy and don’t know how to take care of themselves; that they don’t care about looking or feeling good; that they are insensitive, slovenly, and deserve to be criticized openly and freely.  Too many people tend to exclude and ostracize peers who are overweight.

In the face of teasing

  • Recognize that the person doing the teasing is ignorant about what causes others to become overweight and insensitive to their feelings.  That person is behaving in a cruel and toxic manner.
  • You might want to educate the person ignorant of these issues by making it clear that
    • largeness is genetically determined
    • people are not meant to look one particular way or exactly alike
    • large and overweight people are typically fit and healthy people; typically  they are athletic and live long, productive and fulfilled  lives
    • if anyone is offensive to others, it is the bully, not you.
  • If the offender is being cruel and hurtful, it would make a great deal of sense not to seek his or her friendship.  There are too many good people in the world to befriend.  Stay away from toxic people. 
  • If bullying at school becomes a problem, bring it up with your parents, guidance counselor and/or your teacher. The schools should do what they can to discourage such an environment that interferes with learning and social growth.

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