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
If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.
Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff:
Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. Click here for details
Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!
Book Me! I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
In training for an IRONMAN triathlon. If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here
If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.
19 thoughts on “Children’s Book Teaches Fat Shaming – Sign the Petition”
What is actually wrong with the world? Life-altering surgery for children who aren’t even fully developed yet, step by step instructions for being a fatphobic bigot. I despair sometimes, I really do.
I signed. I’m an aspiring illustrator/author of children’s books and stuff like this seems to slip into the publishing world somehow. It disgusts me.
I signed, too, and in my comment, I suggested we have a book called “Don’t Hate Me Just Because I Don’t Look Like…” with a bunch of examples of beauty standards across cultures and history.
Want to give it a go? Kids should learn early that there is no universal standard of beauty, and they should just accept themselves, and each other, as beautiful and worthy, regardless of which beauty standards apply.
Oh, I remember this embarrassing waste of trees. This is the one that seriously can be summed up as, “If you see an ‘overweight’ child at school, you need to constantly watch them, taunt them, monitor and comment on their food, and NEVER let up on your condemnation of their evil fat lifestyle for a MOMENT… otherwise they might get bullied.”
Someone doesn’t know what the word “bully” means, and it isn’t the potential reader.
Also, it features a drawing of a fat boy looking at a salad like it murdered his parents, plus several pages describing how lonely and unhappy fat children are (each with an illustration like the one on the cover, implying the reason fat children are lonely and unhappy is not because of the crushing social stigma they’re expected to navigate at an age where the dog chewing up their Freddy Fazbear plush qualifies as major emotional trauma, but because they’re too preoccupied with food to notice there are other people around them and other activities besides eating).
It’s like “Go The Fuck To Sleep,” “Do You Want To Play With My Balls,” or “It’s Your Fault Mommy Drinks,” except it’s not a joke. Oh, yeah, and it also increases the misconceptions about and ultimately makes life worse for an already-marginalized and stigmatized group of children on top of that.
I’ve been fat my entire life and I was born in 1952 before people were supposedly fat if you listen to doctors and pop media. This book would have been heart breaking to me.
Just out of curiosity, when DID fat people magically appear?
I know that King George IV had a thing for fat women, so… Either he was severely disappointed (and also delusional, having a thing for someone who didn’t even exist for another century or more), or else doctors and pop media are wrong.
Gee… I wonder which it could possibly be.
But seriously, when ARE they saying fat people suddenly came into being?
Every generation thinks they’re the one in which fat people sprung into being. Since I was born in the eighties, I’ve been hearing it over and over again, every time a new round of kids is old enough to be indoctrinated – there were never fat people before you, fat people are an aberration of modern decadence, and the world won’t be headed in the right direction until there aren’t any more fat people. I’ve been hearing this routinely every decade since I’ve been alive, and I’ve found books from the fifties espousing the belief. I suspect it was a thing even before that.
I *think* they’ve got this idea that if we always existed, they’d have to treat us like people, but if some element of the modern world made us, they’ve got carte blanche to treat us as shittily as they want. Yeah, I know, that makes absolutely no sense. “It’s okay to oppress fat people because they’re a product of modern technology.” Now rip “fat people” out of that sentence and replace them with “sapient robots” and ask the same fatphobes if they still think that would be theoretically okay. They’ll say no, because even though fat people AREN’T anything new, the idea that you could oppress us if we were is ridiculous. And like most things fatphobic, merely an excuse to mistreat fat people while still thinking yourself a good person.
I remember back when I was a kid, in the 70’s and Mom had some sort of a subscription to a monthly lifestyle book club (hard cover, so it’s a book, but only about the size of a magazine).
Anyway, one of them told all about how we grow up, and for the boys, it just listed basic stuff about growing up, and you can expect this around this age and that around that age. But for the girls, it added, I kid you not, that we would have to start dieting around age 18.
Nowhere did it say anything about any age at which women could STOP dieting. Just that women, as a whole, needed to start dieting as soon as they became legal adults.
Oh, yeah, and MEN keep growing until they hit 21 or so, but women stop developing at… you guessed it. 18. When they start starving themselves.
Oddly enough, I don’t recall any other reference to fat or size in that book. It was as if fat people didn’t exist. But you’d better believe that it had diet tips, so that the women listed would not GET fat, in the first place.
This book is bullshit.
Get em young… Like kids are not throttled from birth onward to not be associate or acknowledge fat any whee in their lives but to see it as a sick sick, needing to be fixed. my niece is in her early twenties, I remember many incidents about size and fat that were just hilarious. like her walking my dog around and around the room for exercise to teach him a lesson she was probably 7 or 8. When she got engaged and we had the fun of her and her friends and fiance come here for lunch and she literally had a conversation at the table about how she is in trouble because “look” I have fat people on BOTH sides of my family…! Stupid asides… her baby has type one diabetes, (never fat) and her husband, who seems nice is a foodie with chef aspiration who eats lie a horse drinks whole milk and is thin as a rail. S’crazy.
Didn’t Canada have a required reading book for fifth graders, “Your’re Somebody, How To Be A Slim Kid.” ?
Don’t call me fat? More like call me a monster, treat me like an incompetent and show me nothing but contempt for the rest of my life. You’re my only hope!
These people! I swear. Put ANYTHING else in the adjective spot and you get sued!
Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune disease that has nothing to do with diet or being overweight
Sort of my point… But I phrase myself poorly.
Actually, type 2 diabetes has nothing to do with diet or being overweight either. The only way a person will end up with type 2 diabetes is if they have the genetic trigger for it. The idea that people can “eat themselves into diabetes” is a fallacy all around.
Which is exactly why both thin and fat people get it.
People get very confused about hyperglycemia and diabetes. They are not the same thing.
Thank you for letting us know about this atrocity! It would never be acceptable to publish this book if it were racist, but it seems sizeism is a-okay. 😦
I know. Can you imagine them publishing a book called “Little Black Fatso”?
But replace that with “Sambo,” and you have book-banning.
Hey Lynn and Michelle,
I appreciate your comments and I hear what you are saying here, but I would ask that you not compare body size and race like this – at least in this space. I used to do the same thing until folks pointed out to me that oppressions come from different histories, become systemic in different ways, and benefit different people making these comparisons less accurate than they seem on the surface and, worse, they mean that we’re using another culture’s oppression as a tool to fight our oppression – which isn’t cool. Like I said, I totally did this exact thing so I’m not intending to be “holier than thou,” I just want to pass along the things that folks have taken the time to teach me.
Right you are, Ragen. Feel free to delete the comment.
I apologize for that.
By the way, Ragen, thank you. Not only for moderating the comments, but for educating us commenters.
Even when you call us out, you are gentle, and teaching us, and I just feel so safe here.
Sure, I get angry when I read your articles, but it’s angry at the world, or specific jerks in it, never at you or your commenters.