A New York school sent a girl home with a letter calling her “fat” and her mother was fit to be tied. What’s so disturbing about this is the 9-year-old girl is skinny and healthy; she’s 4’1 and weighs 66 pounds. This reveals how troublesome of an epidemic “fat shaming” has become.
Gwendolyn Williams and her friends weren’t about to hand deliver a letter to their parents without first opening the envelope themselves. The words inside the letter hurt and may very well prove how inaccurate the Body Mass Index (BMI) is.
Gwendolyn’s mother, Laura Bruij Williams, says this about the school calling her daughter fat:
“Some of her friends found out they were obese. They were crying.”
Girls feel pressure more than ever before to fit society’s standards of body image. Mrs. Williams says heartbreak ran through her by the way her little girl reacted to the school’s “fat” letter. She recalls:
“She said, ‘Hey, Mom. The school told me I’m overweight.’ And then she started jiggling her thighs, and saying, ‘Is this what they mean?'”
The New York Post first reported on this story that’s sure to get people up in arms. Mrs. Williams told FoxNews that her daughter also grabbed skin around her waist and questioned why the school would view her as “fat.” Although the Gwendolyn knows she’s thin and not “fat” as the letter states, she feels overly criticized for her body.
Gwendolyn and her fellow classmates were given a sealed “Fitnessgram” by the school located in Brooklyn. The New York City Department of Education generates these letters for the school district that has about 870,000 students. “Fitnessgrams” are issued annually in New York City for grades K-12. The schools instruct students not to open the letters addressed to the parents, but in this instance some of the students peeked inside.
Gwendolyn plays softball and enjoys riding her scooter. The 9-year-old says:
“My friend who was next to me, she opened hers, too, and she was overweight too, and we were both saying, ‘Did the Fitnessgrams get mixed up?'”
Mrs. Williams has a good point. She tells The Post:
“With body image such an issue, it’s amazing to me that these letters weren’t mailed to parents. What kid’s not going to open that?”
Gwendolyn’s mother confronted the principal about the “fat” letter and received a “sympathetic” response. She doesn’t understand why the school would trust children to not open letters, however. She adds that while these BMI results might be “a very positive thing for some kids who are overweight,” schools “shouldn’t be putting these assessments in the children’s hands.”
Chevese Turner from the Binge Eating Disorder Association told The Post:
“My organization and others believe that BMI report cards have no place coming from schools and can be more harmful than helpful.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support BMI measures, but it started “decades ago by the insurance industry as a way of assessing the health of groups of people, not individuals,” the report said.
An Inquisitr article from October 2013 reported on a similar story when a school informed a student’s parents that she was overweight because of her BMI reading.
Will there be a backlash over BMI assessments in the future? When a healthy, fit girl brings a “fat” letter home from school, it makes many wonder if BMI should be done away with.
[Photo Credit: Stephen Yang /New York Post]