Actual Headline

[Content Note: Bullying; fat hatred.]

CNN: "Fat is the new ugly on the playground."

The sentiment is later repeated in the piece: "Fat is the new ugly on the school playground. Children as young as 3 worry about being fat. Four- and 5-year-olds know 'skinny' is good and 'fat' is bad. Children in elementary school are calling each other fat as a put-down."

I'm glad to see an article addressing fat hatred in bullying on CNN. What I am not glad to see is the treatment of fat-bullying as if it's a new thing, or, worse yet, as if fat-bullying is only problematic when kids who aren't actually fat are bullied.

It is indeed awful when children of different body shapes are bullied as "fat" when they're not fat, especially since adolescent girls who start puberty early are particular targets of this kind of fat-bullying. I was teased for being fat long before I was actually fat, just because I had boobs and hips by age 11.

But it's awful when fat children are teased for being fat, too.

Additionally, treating "fat" and "ugly" as mutually exclusive concepts misses what is central to much of fat-bullying, of both children and adults: The implicit notion that if you're fat, you are axiomatically ugly.

"Fat is the new ugly" obscures that, in addition to eliding a long history of fat-bullying on playgrounds.

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