Jameela Jamil nails the big problem with that proposal to weigh school students

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Hollie Richardson
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Jameela Jamil

People are rejecting a proposal to weigh school children after lockdown, including body neutrality campaigner Jameela Jamil.

Yesterday (Monday 10 August), a debate over child obesity on Jeremy Vine On 5 received a backlash. 

Guest panellists Ash Sakar and Martin Daubney discussed plans to tackle child obesity after lockdown, following a call from the National Obesity Forum to weigh children in schools from September to make sure they are losing weight. 

Arguing that he thinks it is a good idea, Daubney said: “I have two kids, both of which were weighed. My boy is tall and big-boned and came in as obese. He doesn’t look it. 

He added: “One third of kids are now starting secondary school obese, as reports say. Now that is a problem. And we have to accept now that obesity kills more than smoking in the UK. We worry more about feelings over facts.”

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Sakar responded, saying: “It didn’t make your kids feel shamed and that’s great but I have spoken about it before… I have a difficult relationship with body image, weighing myself a lot, having a sense that people were looking at me and judging me a lot.

“It gave me such, not just a bad relationship with food, but [a] terrible relationship to exercise. What I am saying is that these things can be counter-productive.”

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The official Jeremy Vine On 5 Twitter followed up the debate with a tweet, asking: “Should schools weigh pupils to make sure they shift the pounds they’ve put on during the lockdown?”

Quite understandably, people are pretty frustrated that this is even a debate: it’s a case of body-shaming that can easily lead to children having negative relationships with their bodies and potentially developing eating disorders.

Jameela Jamil, who campaigns for body neutrality through the I Weigh community, shared her views on the proposal, and nailed exactly why it’s a bad idea.  

Sharing the question, she replied: “Hard pass. Being weighed at school was truly the minute my eating disorder started at 12. I can trace it back to that exact day. Understand that size is not an indicator of health and just teach children about nutrition, make exercise fun and stop serving them dogshit at lunch.”

She also added: “See also: The BMI can fuck off too.”

Jamil’s tweet has received over 35, 000 likes and people are sharing their own experiences of being body-shamed in school.

One Twitter user said: “Completely agree. I remember being 10 and each member of the class being weighed in front of everyone, our weight was recorded on the board and we then had to stand in a line from heaviest to lightest. It was humiliating.

Another shared: “Literally still traumatised by the time our physics teacher weighed us all, noted our foot size, punched the numbers into a formula then lined us up in order of who it would be worst to have stand on you. I was the worst. A masterclass in how to fuck up a 12-year-old girl!

And another tweeted: “This traumatised me as an elementary school student. I dreaded going to the nurse, she made me feel awful about myself and would always tell my [mum] – ‘She needs to lose weight.’ Still suffering from it today. We’re in a pandemic, kids have enough on their minds [without] this shit.”

If you would like to find more information on living with an eating disorder, or would like to access help, you should visit the Beat website.

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