Last week, I volunteered to work at the book fair at The Girl’s school. It was fun – helping kids pick out books is awesome (Yay, books) and watching them make their decisions was highly entertaining. I especially loved when little kids picked out longer, chapter books or when a tiny little princess girl surprised me and got books about Star Wars and the Titanic. I love that they provide a free book to every kid, so no one leaves empty-handed.
What I didn’t love was something that was being sold. Up near the checkout, there is always a desk with pencils, erasers, sticker & bookmarks that the kids love, because there isn’t one of them who wants to come home with change – they NEED to spend it all. And in the collection of stickers, there was this:
Dear Scholastic Books – usually I love you, but this? Really? REALLY? Don’t you think our girls have enough to worry about? I mean, I get that it isn’t talking about anyone’s body, but anyone who has lived on earth in the last…I don’t know…forever, knows this is a mainly used in the context of women and their weight. And while one can argue that nothing about this sticker is making a statement about anyone’s weight, at the very least, it makes a mockery about people who are (needlessly or not) worried about their weight or struggle with poor body image. It’s like getting it from both sides: “Don’t be fat!” but “Don’t let anyone think you care about being fat.”
I guess you could argue that making fun of fat worries is a positive thing, but I don’t agree. For one thing, body-image is not always a rational thing – there are 24 million people suffering from eating disorders who can attest to that (20% of anorexics will die from their disease). And when someone feels bad about themselves, making fun of them is very much NOT helpful. And then, some people do have to worry about their weight – not because society tells them it’s prettier to be thin, but for health reasons. Making fun of them is very much not helpful.
Scholastic’s corporate mission reads:
The corporate mission of Scholastic is to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy, the cornerstone of all learning. With more than 90 years of experience supporting the learning lives of children, today Scholastic remains committed to providing quality, engaging educational content in digital and print formats for the next generation of learners, and the families and educators who guide them.
I’m not sure how this sticker fits in with “encourag(ing) intellectual and personal growth”. It might seem like a cute, funny statement to the folks that came up with it, and who knows – maybe I’m over-reacting – but I’d venture to say that the humor is most likely lost on 5 – 10 year olds, anyway. But maybe not the damage that insecurity and body-shaming can do. Having a sticker like this in school makes it OK – makes it normal to joke about weight issues. And I’m just not comfortable with that. Raising my daughter to be a strong, confident person is hard enough without something like this.
And even if there is nothing at all wrong with this sticker – even if you don’t find it inappropriate or insulting, why not have positive messages available to kids? Sell stickers that proclaim how smart or strong or kind my daughter is – not how fat she (or her notebook) might look.
You can do better, Scholastic. See – it’s not that hard: