Weight Prejudice: Myths & Facts

Uploaded by YaleUniversity on 08.05.2009

So, Mr. Tully said this project could be about any biology topic we're interested in.
And it could be a research paper or illustration or a video or something?
So, class, here's my video.
It's about some of you. So pay attention.
I'm overweight.
And it's obviously a hard thing to deal with for all sorts of reasons but the
biggest problem I've been having recently is not about me, personally,
it's about everyone else.
It's how everyone else sees me and treats me just because I'm overweight.
And all of you might assume things about me, about all fat people, that probably
aren't true.
So, my project is talking about these myths about weight and prejudice
and getting some actual facts out there.
You know how Mr. Tully assigned this project, like,
a month and a half ago?
Well, for the last month and a half,
I've been bringing this camera to school
in here, just like this.
So, it picked up pretty much everything you said,
so don't be surprised to hear yourself in this video.
Here's a little snippet from Arthur and Mr. Tully from three weeks ago.
As you well know will be hearing much more from Arthur, and we'll see if he can top that.
And, we'll see if Tully did anything about it like a good and caring teacher would.
And now,
I present the statistics.
In the past twenty years
obesity in children and adults
has doubled.
In that same time, obesity in teenagers has tripled.
Now what am I supposed to do when I hear those numbers?
I don't know.
Those statistics are really scary but I don't think about obesity like that.
All I know,
is that I have to deal with a bunch of stereotypes and prejudices every day, all over the
and at school,
I get picked on.
I'm not going to pretend it isn't harmful because it is.
"Is that even legal?"
"Do I need to get my lawyer?" "Looking for Twinkies?"
"Hey, uh, what's with the camera there?"
Just because I'm heavy, other people assume I'm lazy, stupid,
unpopular and that I eat too much.
But stereotypes aren't the truth.
They're mean and annoying.
But most of all, they're wrong.
MR. TULLY: These are the genes that are responsible for
things like eye color,
skin color,
being left-handed or right-handed. ARTHUR: Does it affect being fat?
MR. TULLY: Uh, some people people say that it's their genes that affect their weight.
ARTHUR: It's not genes, it's Twinkies.
LAUREN: Or pancakes. [laughter] MEGAN: Or sitting around doing nothing. [laughter]
ALEX: Or ice cream with gravy on it. [laughter] I'm going to have to call a foul on that twinkie
Arthur said it but you, Mr. Tully, you've been teaching biology for years and I thought maybe
you'd have the facts.
Well let's find out what the causes of obesity are from, you know,
experts? The causes of obesity are very complex.
It is a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors, psychological
and it's important to recognize that so that when we look at someone, and we see
whatever their body weight is we don't make assumptions about their behaviors
based on that information.
Whoa! That's weird!
That expert researcher with the Ph.D just said that the Twinkie thing was wrong. Let's double-check.
ARTHUR: It's not genes, it's Twinkies. DR. SCHWARTZ: Genetic factors, environmental factors,
psychological factors.
Right. Of course if someone just sits around and eats miles and miles of twinkles all day they'll gain weight.
But I don't just sit around and I don't eat junk food.
Maybe the causes obesity are very complex.
The causes of obesity are very complex.
Are you going to keep sitting in front of that camera till the end of time?
No, just until the tape runs out.
The project is due in a week and I haven't even added graphics.
Well, I haven't even done,
MR. TULLY: So, coming back to that
if we looked around this room
you see lots of different
body shapes and sizes
so lots of different diets.
Then you may remember he singled out two of us
me and my friend, Erica.
MR. TULLY: So someone like Erica
probably had a
pretty healthy breakfast this morning.
Someone like Bene,
uh, I don't know, probably had
ARTHUR: Pancakes. Again. [laughter] BENE: No, I had toast and an apple.
ARTHUR: Oh, you mean an apple pie.
MR. TULLY: [laughing] What Arthur is trying to say is that
having a healthy diet and staying active
and exercising, they're really the only things that are keeping you from
having a normal body.
ARTHUR: And I'm right. Just look at
Okay. Two things.
I've been hanging with Erica since like the second grade and she spends a whole lot
of time eating junk food and watching tv.
And she's still, like, a size zero.
Myth: Erica eats nothing.
Fact: Erica won a pie-eating contest two years ago.
Yes, fact, she did win a pie eating contest.
Can you not? I'm trying to make a point.
Okay. One, Erica has a crazy diet.
here is my morning routine.
I get up,
I have an apple, or
a banana.
and some O.J.
with toast.
And then I take Brutus for a walk. Just a leisurely stroll.
Then I get ready and head to school and have to hear stuff like this
"It's not genes." "Pancakes." [laughter] "Twinkies."
"Ice cream with gravy on it." "Pancakes!" "Sitting around doing nothing."
It's complicated.
Healthy diet and exercise are important but they aren't going to make me shrink.
And I gain more- Diet, exercise and a shrink right.
And I'd gain more weight if I eat Erica does.
If I'm eating healthy and staying active then I'm probably in better shape than Erica.
Just because someone's skinny doesn't mean anything.
Look, here's another doctor.
We talked to parents about
healthy lifestyles. We find that one of the biggest misconceptions they have is
that equating being thin with being healthy or being obese would be
unhealthy and that's just not necessarily the case. There's a lot more
that determines obesity besides what kinds of foods you eat, what kinds of
physical activity you do or what sedentary behaviors you do. A lot of it is familial or
genetic and really outside of the child's control.
And so the important thing is to always value health over appearance.

That was a tough geometry test.
ARTHUR: Hey Erica,
what'd you do, bring your pet pig to school?
[shrill laughter]
Arthur, why are you breathing?
ARTHUR: Does your sister know you have her hoodie? Shut up! .. Jerk.
Let's clarify what's happened there.
Arthur and Megan walked by and called me a pig.
A pet pig, actually.

Arthur and others are clearly prejudice against overweight
people and there aren't any scientific facts to back them up.
What if Mr. Tully said something like,
MR. TULLY: (Bene's voice) people with blue eyes usually have lower IQs than everyone else. It's true!
If you see someone with blue eyes you should just assume they're dumb.
ARTHUR: (Bene's voice) And ugly!
If everyone thought that,
people with blue eyes even if they were really smart would start to feel pretty
bad about themselves.
Hearing all the name calling and laughing behind their back. You know,
"Hey Blue-y."
Generally people view blue-eyed people as,
stupid, mean,
lazy and unpopular.
That seems pretty ridiculous.
Having mean thoughts about somebody for
being the way they are and looking the way they do?
It's childish, it's
JOHN: I just need it for the next few periodsи BENE: I don't have an extra tape.
JOHN: Cake? for lunch? BENE: And you've been wasting it.
JOHN: I'm not wasting it. I think I'm actually getting Megan's ego on camera.
It shows up as an evil aura.
MEGAN: Wouldn't it be easier to smear that cake on your thighs? ARTHUR: You can stop carbo-loading now. GIRL: How many lunch periods do you have?
Um, you're only supposed to have one, and I think that may be a problem.
She's having a salad. MEGAN: She shouldn't be having anything at all!
She looks like a pig.
BENE: Turn it off, John. JOHN: You need this.
This is why you're bringing it to school.
I'm not turning it off. ERICA: Don't worry, they're just mean kids. JOHN: Yeah.
BENE: A pig? JOHN: You're not a pig.
BENE: Maybe they're right. It's just.. people make
fun of me all the time.
And I just put up with it. JOHN: You're gonna be alright..
It's not like this hasn't-
BENE: This hasn't happened before?
Yeah, I know, thanks.
JOHN: Hey, if you go to the nurse and say you have pink eye, you can get outta here.
BENE: I didn't go to the nurse and lie to her and go home.
I sucked it up and went to gym.
And guess what happened there.
I got teased in the locker room,
and when we were picking teams for soccer, Jen Martin called me thunder thighs.
I scored a goal, though, but
no one seemed to care.
You know that scale in the locker room?
Last year we all got weighed in a big group for some reason and Ms. Keenan skipped my name on the list
and weighed me after everyone was gone.
She thought she was being nice, I guess?
But it turned into this whole joke where they said they couldn't use that scale
because he didn't go up high enough.
I showed a lot of name-calling and ridicule.
But sometimes its when people don't say anything that hurts the most.
People deliberately look away from the me when I pass them in the hallway.
It's like if we make eye contact
or say hi to each other, I'll make them gain a hundred pounds on the spot.
What I'm saying is it's not just the teasing that's the problem.
Bias and prejudice against people with thunder thighs is something that's
Someone sees a fat person,
someone sees me,
and they already have me pegged.
They already know everything about me
and what they want to think of me.
And what I have to live with everyday is knowing that people automatically think
less of me.
Weight bias has a range of negative consequences and students who are teased or
victimized because of their weight
are vulnerable to depression, anxiety,
low self-esteem and poor body image, all of which can take a considerable
toll on emotional well-being. In addition weight bias can increase vulnerability to
unhealthy eating behaviors and avoidance of physical activity both of
which may reinforce additional weight gain and obesity.
It seems like the prejudice does a lot of harm.
Do you really want to hurt someone like that?
Were all those mean jokes funny enough for my depressiion and stress and anxiety to be
worth it?
It hurts.
It still does.
Because every time I'm in biology, around Arthur who thinks it's okay to make fun of me,
and around Tully who just doesn't care
I'm constantly reminded that people don't respect me. Why?
Because I have more fat cells than them?
Which, by the way,
I don't have total control over.
There are biological and genetic contributors
to bodyweight which people do not have total control over.

I wish there was an easy solution to this problem.
I wish that people weren't so superficial and that the prejudices and
biases or whatever you want to call them just didn't exist.
I guess you just gotta realize that people are different
and that's probably the coolest thing about people as a whole.
Discriminating because of weight is just as ignorant and mean as discriminating
because of skin color or gender.
JOHN: The girl's right.
BENE: And I'm sure- JOHN: What if Arthur made fun of Dave because he's in a wheelchair? And Mr. Tully just let it
happen all the time? It would be on the news or something.
BENE: Yeah!
And i'm sure the anyone who bullies fat people know someone who is fat
that they would never try to put down. JOHN: Yeah
I know what you mean.
I used to have braces, remember?
BENE: Oh yeah, when I first met you.
JOHN: Yeah, remember Donny O'Malley who used to go on my bus?
He used to brutalize me.
And call me things like train tracks until i just
decided not to take the bus anymore.
Well, I mean,
I know what you mean.
And I know how ridiculous it is.
BENE: So you were picked on a lot?
JOHN: Yeah.
One day I just yelled at them and scared the heck out of 'em.
Maybe that's what you should do, just freak out Arthur and Megan get a megaphone and a soap box and start a riot
against weight prejudice. BENE: I don't think starting a riot would do anything.
It would get me a detention and
probably a court date.
But it wouldn't really teach Arthur and Megan anything.
I'm just saying, don't knock fat people.
Cause it's just terribly mean and nasty and viscous and lousy and
rotten. JOHN: Fact? BENE: Fact.

So, Class, I'd like to conclude my project with what I've learned in the past month or so.
Doctors seem to have their ducks in a row about this whole diet and exercise thing.
I eat well and I exercise.
I'm doing the best I can with the body I have.
Everyone's body is different.
The science behind it is complicated.
I can eat the same thing as any of you and our bodies will respond differently.
JOHN: I'm worried some of you might be putting gravy on your ice cream.
BENE: I was looking for that!
Keeping friends around when you've got the blues helps a lot.
There were some days when Arthur was on a roll that just got to me.
I'm glad I have John and Erica around. MOM: Hey, Bene, walk the dog! BENE: I did already!
And my family.
They're good to talk to because they listen and they don't call me fatty or tubs like
some people at school.
It does hurt to be teased.
But what sort of person does that?
They don't know how much it really affects me.
It's at least enough for me to spend a whole lot more time that I needed to on
this project.
Well, that's it I think.
I've cleared up some myths about overweight people,
i've secretly recorded a classroom. and I've said some
not so nice things
about the teacher grading this.