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School Health Initiative

Hello Principal,

 

We are so grateful for all the work you do to make the school a wonderful place for our children to learn and grow.


I’m writing today to express my concerns about the health initiative. Despite having mixed feelings, we participated last year because my son was excited about the T-shirt. Again, this year, I am torn on whether I want my children to participate and I would like to explain the reasons why…


I have worked very hard for my children to grow up in a home with body-positive messages. We use neutral language around food and encourage movement as something our bodies enjoy. I have never forced my children to eat and/or not eat certain foods. I have tried to empower them to listen to their bodies.


The reason I am so passionate about this is because I struggled with disordered eating as a child and young adult. I thought I needed to diet to be healthy. I felt I was bigger than my friends and that I needed to change that. I wrote my first restrictive diet and exercise plan in elementary school with the hopes of losing weight.


I eventually needed to see a counselor when I reached college because the emotional and physical toll of my diet was negatively impacting my life and my relationships. No one who looked at me would have thought I had an eating disorder. I looked “healthy.”


I am a nurse and I understand the importance of physical activity and nutrition. I also know the health ramifications of weight stigma are just as damaging. When I read through the health initiative, I see the heart behind it. I see adults hoping to develop healthy habits in kids that maybe are not receiving these messages at home.


But, I also see the little girl, who already feels too big, being told to monitor her diet and exercise. I see it worsening her body image and self-worth. I see her focusing on getting check marks and not listening to what feels good for her body.


I don’t expect any changes due to this letter. I just thought it was important to offer my perspective. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you are interested, I would love to refer you to resources about weight stigma and how to develop a positive body image in children.


We appreciate everything you and the staff do for our children.

 

Thank you for your time,


Kamie Maddocks



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