Fat shaming has reached a new low this Halloween season. Instead of candy on Thursday, some kids will get “fat letters” telling them they’re overweight and that they should avoid eating candy altogether.
A woman in Fargo, N.D., said in a radio interview on Tuesday that “moderately obese” trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood can expect letters in lieu of treats this Halloween, according to WRCB-TV. Because nothing says “eat healthier” like a little bullying.
“I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight,” the woman, identified only as Cheryl, told Y-94. “I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just ‘cause all the other kids are doing it.”
The “fat letter” Cheryl drafted starts off with your basic Halloween pleasantries: “Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbors!” But then, Neighborly Cheryl becomes Bully Cheryl.
“You are probably wondering why your child has this note,” she penned. “You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.”
She continued: “My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.” To top it off, Cheryl demonstrates her mastery of clip-art with a grinning pumpkin animation in the upper left corner of the “fat letter.”
Not everyone is grinning, however. Reactions to Cheryl’s letter, a photo of which went viral on social media, including Twitter, were overwhelmingly negative.
Kind of hoping this bully is bulliled right back. Woman says some kids shouldn't get candy; she'll give fat letters http://t.co/PBx8ShylzK
— Theresa Z (@boogiebach) October 30, 2013
If some lady gave me a letter on Halloween telling my parents to stop feeding me candy because I’m too fat she would feel the wrath.
— Ryan Briggs (@RyanBriggs19) October 30, 2013
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) October 30, 2013
Dr. Katie Gordon, a North Dakota State University assistant professor of clinical psychology, told ABC 13 that handing out “fat letters” to trick-or-treaters isn’t an effective way to promote healthy eating choices and is “not likely to help” children. “That’s not something that someone can judge -- the health of someone -- just by looking at them,” Gordon noted. “I think that’s the main thing. Even if a child is overweight, they might be very healthy because of what they eat and how they exercise.”
Cheryl from Fargo isn’t the only one fat shaming kids this Halloween. CBS News reported that in California, kids are being sent home from school with “fat letters” explaining to their parents that their children are considered overweight.
"We let the parents know in a gentle fashion, but we also send out a ton of handouts to try to help that family," Lauren Schmitt, a registered dietitian who works with preschoolers in the San Fernando Valley, told CBS Los Angeles. "It shouldn't be a stigma. It's not a way to categorize someone. It's just showing that this child has increased risk to be obese as an adult, which then could lead to quite a few chronic diseases.”
What do you think of the woman in North Dakota who will hand out letters instead of candy this Halloween? Is this a form of fat shaming, or does she have a valid point? Weigh in on the topic by commenting below.
Philip Ross joined IBTimes in March 2013. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from New York University and a B.A. in International Development Studies from the University of...