Weighing In on Weight At School

These are my kids at the start of the week. All happy to go back to school and confident and such. Aren’t they cute? By day four of week one, my little one, ironically a girl with special needs is still tickety boo and thrilled with school. And my overachiever grade five rockstar Original Kid, fluent in two languages and pretty damn great all around, well she’s asking to be homeschooled. Again. This, for the record, is how much of last year went. Bully girls and bullshit. Anxiety. Stomach aches. Anyways, so much was plugged in at the end of the year and so many great people offered reports and gave me hope, that we are still there and we even were thrilled – two thumbs up just yesterday. I believe I tweeted to two of my awesome blogger friends @MamaDweeb and @SweetSadieMarie just last night regarding how excellent my children’s teachers are this year. Anyways awesome kiddo in grade five hopped off the bus tonight helping her little sister home and she blurted this:

     “Mom, today I felt really self conscious.”
     “Oh, why is that?”
     “My teacher has this reflections exercise and he made us weigh ourselves in front of the class.”

     At which point steam started coming out my ears. And my husband, calmest man on the planet, same man who has lovingly helped assure our child, monitored by several doctors over the last couple of years for weight issues, that she is not fat, well his face is looking pretty mad. This is a daily struggle already at our house for a child who hears that she is overweight everywhere she turns. From the Back to School shops that stocked only skinny jeans this year making our efforts to dress our kids nightmarish and miserable. To the other kids at school who have told her she is fat to relatives who unknowingly say things like: “Oh I think you are slimming down!”
Now, any adult female out there who was ever ten knows that all of this is stunningly insensitive. Stunning, really. So Mommy tries to gently ask for more facts and I am told from DD that everyone weighed and measured height. Boys and girls. I am still waiting for a callback from the school.
      “I went first.”
      “How come?”
     “The teacher picked me, probably because I am the fat one.”

I never wanted to write this post about weight because this will be a lifelong struggle for her. She is not a teeny tiny stick girl. We are trying to help her grow into a healthy girl. I spent a year of my life driving her back and forth to LHSC for Healthy Eating clinic. Because my child’s self esteem has been poor from grade one on, which is roughly the time kids began to exclude her from some activities. We signed her up for swimming and martial arts and she sings and acts and is an amazing student. She ironically tells me often that she wants to be a teacher. Finally a female doctor told her she was beautiful just the way she is. I think I cried at that doctor’s appointment. Last year we specifically asked the Martial arts senseis to help target self esteem. That worked for a time. Now it is all undone by a thoughtless classroom activity.

     Who thinks it is appropriate to weigh grade five children in class in front of one another?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Skees


    Do you want me to come with you to give the teacher a talking to? Any male in his right mind knows you don’t ask a female in public her weight. This is ridiculous! I almost cried because this isn’t fair and she is such a great kid.


  • Candice

    Just reading this made me so sad…and angry! As a girl who has battled weight issues her whole life, I can completely relate to your daughter. In my opinion, it’s horribly wrong to weight kids in front of the entire class.

  • Cyn

    As I said on Twitter, something similar happened to me in Grade Six. My mom was SO angry. I was the same as your daughter – I was tall for my age, but I also struggled with weight issues. By the time I was in high school, I had swung so far to the opposite spectrum I was a few missed meals away from anorexia. I still believe that I suffer from an eating disorder. The LAST thing any child needs is to have their weight discussed publicly. This teacher needs to be seriously disciplined for something so insensitive. There was little awareness of eating disorders when I was 12. Now, there’s absolutely no excuse for that kind of damaging assignment. I’m steaming mad for your daughter, and what’s worst is that it happened on a Friday, so you have to steam about it all weekend.

    All of my support to your family.

  • Anonymous

    Even if, by some ridiculous stretch, this was a mandated exercise, could the teacher not have displayed any amount of sensitivity? Pull names from a hat or something else totally random? Forcing someone to go first amounts to nothing more than targeted bullying. I am disgusted by this story, and I would love to give a big warm fuzzy hug to your daughter and to you. I think that this teacher needs to be held accountable and publicly apologize to your daughter. I think that would be an excellent reflections exercise.
    ((Hugs)) @nevesmommy

  • ModernMom

    This makes me feel sick to my stomach! What could possibly be the justification to such an exercise. I am truly sorry that you have to deal with this issue, and wish you and your beautiful daughter strength as you deal with a completely unneeded drama. Sigh and hugs.

  • Kristin Weber

    THis is awful and disgusting. I am horrified that they did this at school. How inappropriate; it breaks my heart. Why would they do this? Is this in the curriculum? And if so, couldn’t it have been a take home exercise? I’m quite positive that most of the kids were feeling self conscious to participate in such an activity. In a day and age when weight is SUCH a big deal (let’s face it…even the skinnies in the magazines are AIRBRUSHED! How is anyone supposed to live up to that?) and we work SO hard to build self esteem…to have it all undone ON THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL? NOT okay.

  • Brenda H

    I am so sorry for what your daughter is going through! We all have our struggles with weight and this teacher went over ALL inappropriate boundaries that have been set!

    BTW… your daughter’s are beautiful! I’m mad for her!

  • Sara

    My daughter did the same exercise and it wasn’t an issue for us. The results were kept private and not even recorded by the teacher, as far as I understand it. Have you talked to the principal and the teacher before talking to the radio?

  • Paula Schuck

    Yes. P went first in a class of 27 or around that. Already sensitive about weight and the numerous kids standing around were watching. Apparently several commented wow she’s big and to one of the tiniest kid’s blurted how tiny she was. Insensitive exercise. Yes one of those saw the point and other was quite dismissive. I do not think it okay to weigh kid’s at school period. Even if done in private it is still going to be a self conscious topic of discussion among pubescent girls.

  • Sara

    No mention of how this was resolved, Paula? I talked to the principal and the teacher about it and they both told me that the weight part of the exercise has been removed due to respect for anyone who had an issue with it. Neither were dismissive when I talked to them about it. This was not done with malice. This was not done with the intent to make little girls cry. This was done as a measuring exercise and so they could measure again in the spring and chart the differences etc. (They took the weight measurement out of it but you may want to opt. your daughter out of the exercise in the spring.)

    The story you are getting from your daughter and the story I am getting from my daughter are different. According to my daughter, people didn’t know the weight of others in the class unless they wanted to make it public knowledge. They were standing at the front of the class but not hovering around the scale, according to my daughter. Do you think perhaps that since your daughter is sensitive about the subject that she may have misread the situation? Like the saying goes, there’s his side, her side and somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

    I’m not unsympathetic to your cause. I understand completely why you would bring this to the attention of the teacher. Just because it’s a fight I wouldn’t pick doesn’t mean I don’t get why you yourself picked the battle. What I don’t understand is why you would bring this to the attention of the media when it has been resolved.