Are you looking for a book to introduce kids as young as 4 years old to size-based stereotypes and bigotry? Then you’re in luck (and also a monster – seriously, pull it together this is a terrible idea) “Don’t Call Me Fat!: A First Look at Being Overweight” is there to make sure that kids enter kindergarten fully ready to stereotype and bully fat kids.
Let’s start with the title, which could be re-written “Don’t use an accurate adjective to describe my body, use a word that pathologizes me based on how I look instead.” This is severely messed up. We’ve talked before about the danger of trying to make “fat” the Voldemort of adjectives (that which must not be named) since fat people are fat whether we call ourselves that or not, and pathologizing bodies based on their size has all kinds of negative consequences when it comes to getting evidence-based medical care.
We need look no further than the cover for the stereotypefest to begin. A sad fat girl stares longingly at the cupcakes at a birthday party while all the thin kids play behind her, completely oblivious to the table ‘o treats (because thin kids don’t like cupcakes AT ALL – it’s a fact. Well, it’s an alternative fact. Ok, it’s just a total lie.)
In this book your 4-8 year old will learn to shame, stereotype and stigmatize any and all fat kids they come into contact with. For example, they’ll learn that fat kids can’t take care of themselves or make decisions about food or movement, in fact “Often they need someone like their friends or family or teachers to learn how to take care of themselves by eating less and exercising more.” Seriously – that’s a quote directly out of the book.
They’ll also learn that fat kids can’t be athletic, are constantly sad, and are likely (and possibly deserve?) to be bullied. With the combination of fat-shaming text and fat-shaming illustrations, by the time they’ve finished this book your kid should be fully primed to be a bully with an eating disorder.
If your kid is fat, this book will give them the chance to learn the meaning of “cruel irony” including the idea that this is their first look at what it’s like to be fat in a fatphobic society.
This book is horrible, it should never have been published and it should be taken out of circulation. Happily, eating disorder therapist Jennifer Rollin has created a petition to help right this wrong. You can sign it here: https://www.change.org/p/book-teaches-children-to-hate-their-bodies
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