On 14 April 2023, TikTok user @kasihgoldputrajaya shared a video that has since gained 300,000 views, in which she revealed that her daughter was subjected to fat-shaming by one of her school teachers.
While teachers are tasked with guiding students in academics and extracurricular activities, they also play a crucial role in shaping a child’s future and character. They should aim to instil both knowledge and positive values in their students.
Unfortunately, in this case, the teacher in question humiliated the young elementary school student in front of her classmates, reducing her to tears.
Teacher Made Fat-Shaming Comments About Daughter
@kasihgoldputrajaya say no to body shaming. stop bully your students. please teacher. lepas kejadian ni anak saya jd dh kurang minat ke sek jika Ada subjek cikgu tu. kes dh selesai sebenarnya. just nk share sbgai awareness body shaming kpd kanak2. mereka jgk Ada perasaan. mereka jgk nak dipuji. #stopbodyshaming ♬ Vaathi Coming (From “Master”) – Anirudh Ravichander & Gana Balachandar
The TikTok user who posted the video recounted that she noticed her daughter in tears before getting into the car while picking her up from school.
Once in the car, her daughter began to cry and shared with her that her teacher had made derogatory comments about her body in front of her classmates.
The user explained in the video’s caption that the teacher had questioned how her daughter would get married in the future if she was “fat” and had also compared her daughter to her skinnier classmates.
Response from the Public
The video quickly gained attention, and viewers flooded the comments section with words of support and empathy. Many expressed anger towards the teacher and shared their experiences of being body-shamed.
One expressed how sad they were to see that students at this age still have to undergo body shaming.
They shared that they were a victim of body-shaming in school and called it the “worst time of (their) life”.
A Twitter user echoed these sentiments, noting that this type of behaviour has been going on for a long time.
They shared that body-shaming comments were often disguised as back-handed insults when they were younger, but they only came to understand the gravity of such comments when they got older.
The user emphasised the teachers’ important role in student’s lives and the need for them to be aware of how their words and actions can impact young and impressionable children.
Another viewer stated that while it’s acceptable for teachers to reprimand students for their academic performance and behaviour, body-shaming is not acceptable, as it can harm their confidence.
In response, the user shared another video expressing agreement with the viewer’s comment. She questioned why body-shaming comments are necessary, as the physical appearance has no bearing on a student’s ability to learn in school.
Body-Shaming and Its Impact
For those unaware, body shaming is the act of making inappropriate or harmful comments about someone’s body size or shape, which can be particularly damaging to adolescents who are still developing their self-esteem and body image.
It’s not just “fat shaming” – individuals can also receive negative comments about being underweight or not fitting society’s beauty standards.
According to a study in February 2023, over 70% of adolescents have experienced weight-related bullying in the past few years. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to body shaming because their family, peers, and social media primarily influence their attitudes and beliefs about body image.
Being sensitive to comments about body shape, weight, and appearance is also normal for their age. Moreover, weight-related bullying can cause these teens to develop negative body perceptions and an unhealthy preoccupation with specific body parts.
This can lead to low self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth and make them feel isolated and lonely, resulting in depression and anxiety. Body shaming can also lead to unhealthy eating habits and disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating.
Lodged Complaint to the Principal
In response to concerns raised by commenters about the situation, the user clarified that she had complained to the school principal about the teacher’s actions.
The teacher in question was asked to write a show clause letter, but the user ultimately decided to drop the matter and let the teacher off without having to write the letter.
However, since the incident, she noted that her daughter had lost motivation to attend school on days when the teacher who body-shamed her was present.
She further elaborated that her TikTok videos were not to shame the teacher but to raise awareness on how body-shaming comments can affect an individual’s mentality, especially young people like her daughter, who was only 15 or 16 years old.
She implored teachers to refrain from making body-shaming comments or bullying their students. She emphasised that adults should remember that children have feelings, and body-shaming should not be normalised.
Encourage Body Positivity instead of Body Shaming
This sentiment coincides with a study that surveyed over half of the overweight adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the United States.
Ms Rebecca Puhl, the study’s lead author, reported that weight-related stigma could be reduced by shifting the focus of conversations towards health and health behaviours rather than the number on the scale or physical appearance.
She shared that teens, in particular, prefer to hear more neutral words like “BMI” or “weight” instead of terms like “obese,” “fat,” or “heavy.”
Studies have also found that teens respond more positively when their peers discuss how to cultivate healthier behaviours rather than shaming them for their weight or eating habits, which can be distressing.
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