Friday, February 24, 2012

Why would Disney teach kids to bully each other and feel bad about themselves?

Why would Disney teach our children to pick on each other?  Why would they teach discrimination and stereotyping based on a physical characteristic?   THAT is exactly what Disney is doing in their exhibit Habit Heroes.  (Warning:  Do not watch with children in the room.  This exhibit teaches kids to believe all fat kids are lazy, gluttonous, and stupid.  When thin kids watch this, it will encourage prejudice & bullying.  When fat kids see this, they ARE being bullied by Disney and it will make them feel bad about themselves. )

Have we learned nothing about discrimination in the last 44 Years?  Why are we still dividing kids up based on physical characteristics and encouraging negative stereotypes about those kids?  In 1968 a teacher in a small Iowa town did an experiment with her third-grade class.  Jane Elliott divided her class based on physical characteristics.  

Based only on those physical characteristics, she told her class that one group of children "were better people" than the other group of children.  The resulting discrimination, devastated self-esteem, and differences in performance were astonishing.  Discrimination hurts.  Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online to learn more about the negative effects of discrimination based on physical characteristics.  (Have your tissues ready.  You will cry.)

In Disney's Habit Heroes they divide our children into two groups:

  • The thin kids who are assumed to be healthy eaters, regular exercisers, and having control of themselves.
  • The fat kids (those who have been labeled with "childhood obesity") are assumed to be gluttonous, lazy, out of control snackers
In our culture, with the War on Childhood Obesity, where we focus on children's body size, we are teaching discrimination based on the physical characteristic of body size.  This teaches our children to discriminate against each other and that they are entitled to bully each other.  It teaches our children to hate their large bodies and themselves.

Instead of bullying exhibits like Habit Heroes and hurtful campaigns like the "War on Childhood Obesity" (which could also be called a "War on Large Body Size" ... it is a war on a physical characteristic!) what else can we do?  We cannot just ignore the health of our children.

Instead of teaching discrimination based on body size, we can encourage body appreciation and healthy lifestyles for all sizes.  There is a new peace movement called "Health At Every Size®".

Our schools, doctors, and government should support the five principles of HAES℠:
1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

In your life, as you write comments online, and in your messages to Disney, YOU can promote this new peace movement.
Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online and CHOOSE to be part of ending size-discrimination for our children and in your life!

Hopefully and Tearfully (because I am now watching segment 4 where Jane Elliott is teaching adults her lesson),
Kelly Bliss


jcny11 said...

Thank you for this post. As a fat child, I was bullied up to my high school years. It made school torture for me. I also recommend 'A Class Divided" I've used it for many years to conduct diversity training. Although it was filmed in the 1970's and 80's, it never fails to touch views and remind them what it is like to wear "the collar" of discrimination.

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