Anti-fat Bigotry Against Schoolteachers Proposed in Hawaii

State Rep. Rida Cabanilla introduced a resolution in the house requesting that the Board of Education establish an obesity database among public schoolteachers.

“You cannot keep a kid to a certain standard that you yourself is not willing to keep,” Cabanilla said. […]

The resolution calls for all public schoolteachers to weigh in every six months.

The measure calls for the education and health departments to formulate an obesity standard and appropriate measures for teachers who cannot meet the standard.

Wow, is this disgusting.

No luck so far finding out what “appropriate measures” consist of, but I’ll keep looking.

This is a bit similar to a story a year ago, when a California legislator proposed including children’s BMIs on report cards, right under their grades. Because if there one thing California culture lacks, it’s people being judged by their weight.

Curtsy: Brutal Women.

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19 Responses to Anti-fat Bigotry Against Schoolteachers Proposed in Hawaii

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  5. 5
    StealthBadger says:

    This was back in March of last year, I haven’t been able to find a single mention of it since April, or anything in the Hawaii State Legislature docs.


    Though I think Cabanilla needs a grammar refresher….

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    Great. Next thing you know, it’ll be in performance reviews and you’ll be required to maintain a certain BMI or face discipline. Boy, do I get paranoid when I read stuff like this. I’m waiting for the first case where someone got a blood test and a DNA genetic analysis is done without their permission.

  7. 7
    beth says:

    when i was in elementary school, we’d have “fitness tests” every year. i dreaded them. i was a fit, strong, athletic, active kid–but i couldn’t do a couple of things. i couldn’t do a pull-up. i couldn’t climb a rope. and i couldn’t run a mile very fast. i could do many things, like tear around on a bike like a sonofabitch; beat any boy in my class in a fistfight (and i did, a couple of times); jump over walls; climb trees; huck just about anything onto the school roof…

    but the fitness test required that we perform pull-ups as well as sit ups and that we run a terrible, boring, endless mile consisting of many laps around the school grounds.

    we were also weighed–i’d always been a “sturdy” child and my weight numerically has always been surprising to people who usually estimated it much lower looking at me.

    therefore, despite being among the most active, “tomboyish” kids i knew, i failed the fitness test.

    everyone else in class who passed got an “I’M FIT!!” ribbon and various other prizes. those of us who failed the tests got nothing but the pitying looks of our classmates.

    i concluded that i was not only not fit, but not MEANT to be fit. i obviously was physically deficient and from then on convinced myself i was clumsy, weak and incapable of most physical / athletic tasks. little by little, i dropped out of athletic and active physical activities.

    i’m now severely overweight, and living proof of just how much damage these “incentive” programs can do.

  8. 8
    Arwen says:

    A family member of mine has been struggling with fat phobia for 35 years. So much so, that when they recently tested her thyroid and found it utterly inactive, the testing doctors demanded to know why it took this long to find out.
    Oh. Well. 34 years worth of doctors telling her to eat less and get out more, and assuming her habits. Because it’s never someone’s glands: that’s a thing lazy fat people say to deny responsibility, right? She’s on a special diet and thyroid meds now, and (surprise!) is losing weight.

    Even without glandular problems, someone’s genetic predisposition to weight or not weight is pretty strong. My adopted friend is more her birth mom’s shape than her adopted mom’s shape, even on the diet of her adopted family. Seems to me that this is pretty similar to rewarding people for not going grey or having blue eyes and punishing them otherwise.
    And finally: I for years and years and years thought that I was overweight. I am 5’4″, and I weighed 170 lbs when I finally did a total body fat comp test and physical profile at the local university: I was in great shape, and very active, and I was a size 10, but doctors kept telling me to lose weight. So my BMI was high, yes: but it turned out I was “exactly right” – by their standards – for a woman of my age in terms of body fat. So not only is their system a narrowly defined one, but it’s also able to be in contradiction with itself.

    (Two kids later, I’m no longer lean, but I ignore scales now and concentrate on how I feel).

    Since my kids seem “heavy”, I’ve told the doc not to say word one to them. If he thinks there’s a problem, he can tell me. And I can ignore it entirely. We’re a healthy bunch. For so many years, though, I didn’t see how active, fit, and healthy I was: and like beth, I assumed I was a food junkie, out of control, and a slob. It’s such weird dissonance that I bought what was obviously NOT reality.

    Anyway. Needed to vent.

  9. 9
    lucia says:

    Would forcing teachers to weigh in even be legal?

    I’m going to skip right by the whole anti-fat / civil rights aspect of this and focus on the waste of taxpayer money and degradation of school quality. Making a database requires time and effort. That means paying someone to collect the data, enter it, and maintain the database. That means spending taxpayer funds.

    So, in Cabanilla dreams, what the heck are they doing to do with the data in the database? Fire fat teachers? And replace them with what? Aerobics instructors? That will really improve student performance!

    (Why do I think that if the obvious practical effects are to spend tax payer money and ruin student performance, the motive must be to discriminate against fat people? )

  10. 10
    Jodie says:

    “You cannot keep a kid to a certain standard that you yourself is not willing to keep,” Cabanilla said.

    I think all legislators ought to have to take monthly tests of English grammar, and those who don’t pass must have remedial grammar courses before they can resume their House duties. Their scores should be published on the front page of the newspaper and mailed to their constituents. After all, we can’t hold our kids to standards our legislators aren’t willing to keep.

  11. 11
    nexy jo says:

    perhaps the legislators should also have their bmi’s published – after all, they can’t hold our kids and their teachers to a standard they themselves aren’t willing to keep.

  12. 12
    academic coach says:

    And they need to be “pretty” too, right?
    Good for Arwen for making sure that doctors don’t traumatize her kids.

  13. 13
    Elena says:

    A few days ago I heard this on NPR: 14% of Michigan schoolchildren are overweight or in danger of being overweight. Does anyone know what “in danger of being overweight” means? Does it mean that the kid is hovering near the overweight cutoff? It just doesn’t seem like a very fair statistic to me. I mean, it’s not enough to not be overweight, you have to be well within the range?

  14. 14
    acm says:

    I hardly
    know what
    to say to this.

    disgusting indeed.

    I guess that smoking incentive programs and the like have led folks to believe that they have a right to judge the personal habits and choices of those around them. as though there weren’t an ugly enough human tendency that direction already.

    ick. yuck. [shaking off arms and legs]

  15. 15
    trey says:

    it amazes me what some of our legislators can think up. how absurd!!

    I’m assuming though that the teacher’s union will be/has (can’t find it on the hawaii legislative calendar: I am assuming that it is now dead… good riddance.

  16. This gets so frustrating. Sometimes I just want to scream “health at any size” over and over to these people. Not that it would be useful.

    This past year the medical information that health is not about size, but about how you take care of your body was really out there, much of it in the New York Times and other mainstream places. And as usual, they are completely ignored by people like these legislators.

    I’ve spent years working on these issues and I know that good changes have been made. But this Hawii legislation really got to me today.

  17. 17
    Mendy says:

    I’m with Arwen when it comes to doctors, weight, and my children. I have three children with three very different metabolisms, body types, and genetics. My eldest child takes after my father’s side of the family and is thin, but she’s not athletic at all. I have to make her go do anything physical. My middle daughter is the one that the doctor told me was “a bit heavy” according to her height vs. weight curve. She’s seven years old, for crying out loud. She takes after her father, and will probably be bigger than her sister, but so what! She is active, athletic, and shows quite a bit of flexibility and balance even at this age.

    I will say this for her pediatrician though, she never said a word in front of my child, but instead pulled me into her office. She never mentioned a “diet” but wanted me to make sure that she got a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, etc.

    It disgusts me how early girls start comparing their bodies to magazines and television. And all of this just feeds into that whole merry-go-round that ruins self-esteem and promotes unhealthy body images.

    Sorry, but I needed to vent a bit. :)

  18. 18
    BStu says:

    “In danger of becoming overweight” is just as absurd and meaningless a concept as it sounds like. It really does just mean a person isn’t not fat by enough. They still are not fat, but you can really pump up the percentages when decrying the “obesity epidemic” if you start counting people who aren’t even fat.

    One hopes a robust teacher’s union would stand up to such offensive nonsense, but one worries they’d go along with it out of blind fat hatred that is so pervasive in our society.

  19. 19
    belledame222 says:

    I have to agree that “fat is unhealthy” is a rationalization for fatphobia. Maybe it’s unhealthy and maybe it isn’t, but it’s not what’s driving the fear and loathing. No, fat-hating is about our weirdass puritan legacy combined with plain old class snobbery.

    Actually, I think the class stuff tends to get overlooked, but it really is a major component here. Once upon a time, rich people were the only ones in this country (still true in a number of countries, of course) who could afford to eat well enough to get fat in the first place. Now that technology (among other things) has created a society where it’s possible for all but the very poorest to be fleshy, if still malnourished, of course the star-bellied sneetches are going to want washboard abs and sixpacks. It’s about status. Whatever’s hardest to achieve without lots of leisure time and money is what’s going to be desirable; dress it up how you like.

    And then, too, of course, fat symbolizes a lot of things we still fear and loathe in this culture, albeit often in disguised and tortured ways nowadays. Sure, people are fat for lots of reasons, but the bottom line is that people who are unabashedly fat and happy are anathema: they might actually just like to eat! For the pure pleasure of it! Why, that’s almost as bad as people who just plain like to fuck. Espeically women, of course. Women who just take what they want (space, food, sex, whatever) without apologizing or subterfuging or getting defensive or neurotic are SCARY.