The Big Body Theory, Being bigger does not mean that you aren’t enough


Nakaiya Bias, Staff Writer

Imagine this: it’s the beginning of the new semester. You’re excited because you’ve just finished finals, and now you’re transitioning from wellness to gym. You click on the Google Classroom link to see your first assignment. A weight loss video titled “No Excuses.” Your gym teacher asks the class, “what’s getting in your way of your weight loss/ fitness goals?” You don’t even watch the video. It’s like so many others you’ve seen before, force feeding you the same implicit message. Bigger = bad.

As a bigger girl, I think it’s time for a revolution. I think it’s time to change the curriculum. Being bigger doesn’t mean you have health problems or that you are morbidly obese, and we need to stop teaching our students that. I know too many people who suffer from crippling body dysmorphia or have shrinking self confidence, simply because of these harmful messages.

For example, District 65 middle schools participate in the BMI test to weigh and to measure students. That may be needed for school records, but what is not acceptable is the fact that gym teachers would yell out your weight or measurement out in front of the class, usually for someone to write down. Some of my peers and I experienced this first-hand and that influenced how we entered into gym classes in high school.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Body Mass Index: Considerations for Practitioners” that is currently available on their website, “the accuracy of BMI varies substantially according to the individual child’s degree of body fatness.”

Beyond potential problems with the BMI index to measure young people’s health, the media is already so heavily saturated with these images of ‘perfect’ skinny models, implicitly telling bigger people we aren’t good enough. While some big-time-brands on social media are starting to get the picture about including big girls in modeling campaigns, gym classes haven’t seemed to catch the memo. Hearing messages about your weight in the ‘safe’ spaces of school can diminish the little self esteem that some students possess. So, why is it that in many P.E. classes, students feel judged and uncomfortable? For a generation that claims to care about students’ mental health and well-being, this ‘safe’ space doesn’t feel so safe. Although the intentions of the videos may be pure and good, the way students might perceive it is entirely different as some students like myself feel that these videos often target the images of cis-gender women.

Sophomore Veronica Hernadez perceives issues with the weight and BMI-focused education in gym.

When asked about her thoughts on the aforementioned videos, she says, “I think it’s completely bull. They portray people a certain way for everything; a certain weight, a certain height, and it’s just exhausting, constantly being told that you aren’t enough.”

I can agree with her statement. It is tiring to be constantly told that you are not enough, that your weight makes you less than. Then, when you challenge the status quo, people label you as sensitive. I guess I’ll take that title, because as I said before, it’s time for a revolution, and it should start today.