Obesity and Bullying
Obesity is a problem on so many levels – many of them to do with health and fitness. But obesity can also cause untold mental anguish, for adults and children alike. And sadly, it is a fact of life that obesity and bullying go hand in hand – for children at least and often for adults as well. Unfortunately, it is true that many people cannot see past what a person looks like and will judge them on their weight. And while what other people think and say is never a reason to change the way you look, the damage which bullying can do to a person cannot be underestimated.
Obesity, Bullying And ChildrenIf children are overweight, then the bullying they receive can be physical, verbal, mental and emotional. Children can be very cruel, and whether it is because they are following the lead of their parents and other adults or because they are insecure themselves, there are many youngsters who would not hesitate to bully another child just because they were overweight.
For children, bullying can create a feeling of isolation as other children do not want to be seen to oppose the bully by siding with the victim. This means a bullied child may struggle to make friends through no fault of their own. In addition, the name calling and taunting can be so painful that it stays with the child for the rest of their life.
Sport can also be a time when overweight children suffer and because they will not naturally be good at sport anyway, they may get bullied and picked on for this as well. If the bullies are good at sport themselves, they will use this as leverage to make sure everyone else stands with them. This is manifested in the classic picking teams scenario where the bully is made a team captain and picks their friends and allies, leaving until last anyone who has dared disagree with them or side with the victim.
AdultsBut adults are not exempt from being bullied because they are overweight. In fact, quite often the opposite is true. However, adults are less likely to be physically attacked for their size, although this is not unheard of. But generally, in the case of adults, the bullying will take more subtle forms. It can include anything from sly comments about the contents of a lunch bag to being passed over for big presentations.
Of course, the latter type of bullying can be classed as discrimination and the victim may well have a case to take further. But, like in the case of the children, often the victim can feel very alone and have no one to turn to because the bully has power over them as well.
None of this means that a person should try and lose weight for the benefit of others. However, being overweight or obese does mean that the person’s health is at risk and it is these reasons that a person should be encouraged to change their lifestyle and weight.
In addition, parents should be concerned about their children’s mental state if they are overweight, as even if they haven’t been victims of overt bullying, they will alsmost certainly have received some cruel taunts – and this alone should be enough for any parent to want to change the situation.