Is It Discrimination?
By Nancy Summer
Often we see and hear things that may be size discrimination—on television, in magazines, in school, and in our neighborhoods. Can you tell if something is discrimination? Here are some examples and what we think about them. What do you think?
1. Every time the gym teacher lets the kids pick teams, Mary (who is fat) gets picked last. Is it discrimination?
2. Your very fat aunt is coming to Thanksgiving at your house. Your mother or father gets a sturdy armless chair and places it at the dinner table for her. Is it discrimination?
3. There is a fat girl on your school bus. Every time she gets on, some boys make oink noises, and no one wants to sit next to her. Is it discrimination?
4. Joe is the fattest boy in school. The other kids tease him, so he punches one of them in the arm. He gets sent to the principal’s office, but not the other kids. Is it discrimination?
5. Jane, a fat student, is a terrific singer. The school is putting on a musical play and she is great in her audition. But she only gets picked to paint scenery because the teacher says she "doesn’t look right for the part." Is it discrimination?
6. Even though Barbara likes gym class, she has trouble keeping up because she is very fat. The teachers decide to give her a special pass to skip gym. Instead, she has to go to the guidance counselor to talk about her body image. Is this discrimination?
7. The principal announces that every kid who is more than 10 pounds overweight has to stay after school every Tuesday for a special weight loss class with the school nurse. Thin and average-sized kids don’t have to stay after school. Is this discrimination?
8. There’s a "Help Wanted" sign in the window of the local store. Of the people who apply for the job, Betty has the most experience. The store owner says he thinks she would be very good at the job, but he doesn’t hire her. He says that she weighs too much. He hires someone thinner with less experience and tells Betty that if she loses weight, she should try again next time he has a job opening. Is this discrimination?
IS IT DISCRIMINATION?
If you see or hear something that seems to be size discrimination, but you’re not sure, here’s an easy way to tell: Imagine the same situation, but instead of a fat person, imagine the person is black, or speaks with a foreign accent, or is in a wheelchair. If you think it would be discrimination against any of those people, it’s probably discrimination against the fat person, too. ©
Copyright 1993, Nancy Summer, Council on Size & Weight Discrimination, Inc. Email: email@example.com. For more information, write: International No-Diet Coalition, P. O. Box 305, Mt. Marion, NY 12456, or call 914-679-1209. Copying permitted (with copyright intact).