Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Sticks and stones may break my bones..but being called FAT destroys me!

Yesterday, a heard from the parent of a 13 year old who is extremely frustrated at the fact that her child is constantly being teased about their weight at school. Interestingly, this teasing isn’t coming from school “Bullies” or kids they’ve have issues with in the past, the nasty comments and hurtful insults are coming from kids they’ve been friends with for years.

This mom was surprised she was even hearing about what was going on because her child usually doesn’t share this type of information with’s just not something BOYS often speak freely about.

As confusing as the fact that this teasing is coming from kids he calls his friends, is the fact that this boy is NOT overweight, not even close. Yet, for some reason, there are a few boys in his circle that have labeled him the “fat kid”. At an intellectual level, he knows he’s not overweight, but emotionally, he’s not so sure.

So many people still think that body image issues are something that girls deal with and that boys are somehow immune to, but the sad truth is that more and more boys are feeling intense pressure to be physically perfect and accepted by their peers. A few months ago, I had a conversation with a group of teenaged girls, who talked about how weird they thought it was that their guy friends insult eachother all the time, and put eachother down, but then seem to laugh it off as if it didn’t hurt.

Truth is, it does hurt. It’s just not cool to admit it.

The mother I spoke with yesterday is concerned because she is starting to see the impact that this “harmless” teasing between “friends” is having on her son. The most noticeable change has been a significant weightloss since the end of last year. While some of the weightloss has come from a healthy increase in physical activity, some of it has also come from an overly restrictive diet. No matter how fit he gets, if these kids continue to insult his weight, he will continue to feel the need to lose more of it.

She is doing everything she can to explain that bullies bully as a way of trying to make themselves feel more powerful, usually it’s to hide how insecure they actually feel.

Here’s what I find truly upsetting. While boys FEEL just as deeply as girls do, they don’t feel as comfortable sharing those feelings for fear of looking weak. They are constantly told  to “suck it up!” or ” Man up!” By not expressing how they feel, they internalize these feelings, and since feelings don’t just disappear, they usually end up resurfacing in a seemingly unrelated way. They become more aggressive, moody, even OVERLY confident; anything to mask the pain they’re feeling.

We are constantly hearing about how we need to raise our boys to understand women, be sensitive and respectful to their feelings..yet we don’t allow them to do the same for themselves.

We have all met “Mean Girls” in school, but guess what? There are now “Mean Boys” as well. ALL kids need to learn that bullying isn’t funny and it’s just not ok.

I know that there are a lot of people who feel that, “Boys will be boys” and this isn’t a big deal; but these boys eventually grow into MEN and it’s our job as parents, teachers, coaches and caregivers to help them through the transition with sensitivity and compassion…even when they don’t ask for it.


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