Hilary Freeman, a London-based mom, has decided against enrolling her daughter in a certain nursery school because the assistant was obese.
“The nursery assistant was clearly a lovely woman: kind and great with children. But as I watched her play with my two-year-old daughter, I felt a growing sense of unease,” Freeman penned in an essay explaining her position.
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“[The assistant] was only in her 20s, but she was already obese—morbidly so. She moved slowly and breathlessly, her face flushed,” Freeman continued.
But Freeman claims her choice to enroll her daughter in a school with more physically fit teachers isn’t “fatism” or based on looks – it’s about safety.
“Would she, I wondered, have the lightning reflexes needed to save an adventurous toddler from imminent danger? And what sort of unhealthy habits would she teach my daughter, who would be eating her lunch and tea there each day?” Freeman asked.
The mom also noticed that the assistant wasn’t the only one at the school who was “extremely overweight.”
Freeman decided her worries “about the message [the staff] was sending to the children in their care: that being very fat is normal and – when children adopt role models so readily – even desirable” were enough of a concern to place her daughter in another nursery.
Since Freeman’s personal essay, people have accused her of “fat-shaming.” She notes that she has been attacked relentlessly on message boards about her opinions, as far as being called “anti-feminist” for suggesting that obesity is not a healthy way of life.
However, her lack of sympathy for larger people is steeped in her own insecurities, she writes.
“Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I’m a slim person with a far person inside, wanting to burst out.”
Freeman is a size 10 now, she said, but was once a size 14 because of a hormonal issue – she suffers with an underactive thyroid that makes it hard to lose weight and can cause severe weight gain. Her grandmother was also morbidly obese – a lifestyle Freeman does not want to hand down to her own daughter.
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“Research has proven that, in many ways, being obese is as unhealthy as smoking. It causes cancer, heart disease and diabetes and can impede fertility. Studies also disprove the notion one can be fat and fit. The heavier you are, the more likely you are to suffer from heart failure or stroke,” she says.
Regardless of dissenting opinions on the mom’s choice of nursery, Freeman is sticking to her guns about the “rising obesity problem,” and ended her essay with a pointed call-to-action.
“Discrimination is never good,” she says. “But neither is obesity. So let’s stop celebrating it, and instead offer a bit of tough love.”