Overheard on CNN.com: Former fat kids' memories of teasing, overcoming obstacles
Kids are becoming increasingly concerned with weight at a younger age.
March 16th, 2012
06:57 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Former fat kids' memories of teasing, overcoming obstacles

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN is putting forth a series exploring the true meaning of beauty, and the latest story is about the attitudes children have toward weight issues (both their own and others').

Fat is the new ugly on the playground

Many of our readers commented and said, hey, that's been going on for as long as children have been children.

Eric: "Fat is not the new ugly. Fat is the original ugly. When I was a kid, fat kids were automatically considered ugly. I'm not saying this to be mean. Children are very primal. They are not politically correct, and are quick to be critical about irregularities. A slight blemish on an apple is enough to make them not want to eat it. As we grow up, we learn to ignore our predisposed prejudices and focus on what is important."

This person could relate to being taunted as a child, and hopes her 10-year-old daughter won't have the same problems.

ibtia32: "Fat is not the 'new' ugly. It's been a source of misery amongst kids for years. I was persecuted in school 25 years ago for being overweight, to the point that I would beg my mother to let me stay home. I have awful memories of childhood and worry every day that my 10-year-old daughter may at some point deal with the pain I once did. Ironically, I am a much stronger person because of it and always pay attention to the ones others show less to. I would have given anything back then to have just one person tell me it was OK to be me."

But this person said they were motivated to become better after the teasing they got.

JPeterson2: "This is a nice perspective on an issue facing children today, however, this is in NO WAY a new issue. I was ridiculed as a child for being overweight. How did I deal with it? I learned to have a sense of humor and be quick on my feet. I became the class clown and kept from feeling down. People have made fun of people for being fat for a long, long time. I can guarantee that a few of those who comment on this article were either called fat or called others fat. So it goes with a self-interested society."

Another person noted that they only became overweight fairly recently, and noticed a difference.

Chrissy333: "I've been a healthy weight most of my life. I have always had to work hard to keep my weight down. I had three children in my 30s and am now overweight and can't seem to lose it. I hate being overweight because I don't feel like myself anymore. People treat me differently and it has been a real eye-opener. It has made me realize how fake and superficial most people are and has made me realize who my true friends are. I am losing weight for my health, not for appearances or to impress others. Young girls need to be taught to be healthy (not superskinny) and to value themselves for who they are even if they are overweight. Belittling someone for being overweight doesn't help them lose weight. It only makes them more depressed and isolated. They need encouragement, not immature bullying."

One reader shared a story of a young family member battling an eating disorder.

doodlebug20: "I have a 10-year-old cousin who was recently diagnosed with anorexia. She's losing a pound a day, her hair is falling out, etc. At first, we thought her many food allergies were the culprit, because there are already many foods that she can't eat. Eventually, we learned that because her mother is always obsessing over her own weight, this child now refuses to eat anything because she's afraid of getting fat herself. It's so sad to know that adults and children are so obsessed with outer appearance. Children need to be reminded again that having a good personality and attitude about oneself is more important."

Others noted that personal responsibility plays a role.

JerseyEer: "Let's just start telling our children that it is perfectly fine to be 50, 60, 100 pounds overweight. We overprotect and coddle children in this country so much it's no wonder they snap and go on shooting sprees in school when they face the reality that life is tough sometimes, not always fair and they're not the absolute best at everything they do. You can't cut a kid from sports anymore because it might hurt their feelings, dodgeball is illegal in gym class because it's too violent, parents let their children act like wild animals in public with zero repercussions and now we're to tell them it's OK to be fat!? Being fat IS bad, it's unhealthy, leads to diseases and will kill you. We are raising a bunch of self-absorbed, arrogant, fat kids who have a sense of entitlement that is off the charts."

And then there was this reader, who had a little success story.

TexDoc78154: "I was teased in high school, and again at the 10-year reunion. Didn't bother with 25th, but have lost 75 pounds and make more than almost all of them. Living well is the best revenge."

Can you relate? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport. Be sure to let us know what beauty means to you.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Philip

    Fat kids "overcoming obstacles" say's the headline. Exactly what is a fat kid's biggest obstacle to longevity? In other words, how many fats have died as a result of bullying vs. howmany fats die of, say, heart attack? Get a clue. We are only making fun of you because of how uncomfortable it is to talk to you. Just as when we were chilkdren. But really, must we delve into the goodness of fruits, VEGETABLES, and excersize ad nauseum? It's late in the game. Fat peep's know the score.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      What an extremely unkind thing to say.
      I expect nothing less.

      March 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ron

    @ Mary, yes you are certainly right about having such a friend that you can gain insight from. Unfortunately because of social anxiety all my life I have missed out on most of that. So i've had to learn many of life's lessons the old trial and error way. It would have been so much easier with such a friend as you spoke of. Appreciate them-and let them know it. You never know when the last time you see someone might indeed be the last time you see them.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. patrick ©

    I officially apologize for my unkindness on this blog today. I stand by my original posts about my experience as a skinny kid and my love of all that John Lennon stand for. I wish you all peace on earth and good will to men.@dazzle, I am once again sorry for showing my ugly side. One day, I pray you'll forgive me.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    A new study says that increased CO2 in the atmosphere is making people fatter. Now you can blame every breath you take, not every cake you bake! Lmao!

    March 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Donna..if your reading this, I love you, and happy St. Patricks Day.

    March 17, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Thanks, Jeff! Back atcha!

      March 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    @ jeff, shes out partying tonite.

    March 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Portland tony

    It's a good thing kids don't pay much attention to "adult" blog sites like this one. They'd find more bullies here than on any playground. It's like "Do as I say...not what I do". Jeez?

    March 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    I was so skinny until college that other kids tormented me for that.
    "Skinny, skinny! And your nose is too big!"
    When I started working out, I learned that having a 27 3//8" waist was an asset.
    Now that I'm 73 years old, 30" is as small as I can get it.

    March 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Hey, JIF.
      I was so skinny as a child that my babysitter once asked me, "What are those strings hanging from the hem of your shorts for? Oh, I'm sorry, those are your legs!"
      I found that hilarious.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    @ Portland tony,
    Truer words have never been spoken.
    Good day all
    Absolutely beautiful here in Upstate NY 🙂

    March 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    @ Portland tony,
    Truer words have never been spoken.
    Good day all
    Absolutely beautiful here in Upstate NY 🙂 hmmm

    March 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Linus was a 5 year old in that cartoon.
    I do not see why one would want to take a sweet, harmless cast of characters like those in "Peanuts" and make them out to be tawdry and wrong, but there you are.
    "South Park" is meant for adults. Go ahead and snark on that show...but for God's sake, picking on the characters of "Peanuts" seems a little out there.
    Making up whole biographies to satisfy an agenda is just........
    Snoopy weeps.

    March 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Weldon Gebhard

    these kids and their parent should be concerned about their weight. I mentor and a local middle school and one of every two is seriously over weight and one of every three very over weight.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Weldon Gebhard

    these kids and their parents should be concerned. I mentor and a local middle school and on in two are over weight and one in three seriously over weight.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    Good thing Ravi was not around to video tape them eating. Are all bullies going to jail now a days? We promote tolerance and sensitivity on our society but really we enable extreme over sensitivity. How will children learn resilience if at every turn we sugar coat their world? People can be mean and you can choose to listen to the words or form your own opinion. It is unfortunate that bullies and criminals are automatically lumped together. I thought there was a difference...

    March 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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