Voices of Atlanta teens:
What's your first reaction when you read these words?
What do you assume these young people are reacting too?
"Being weighed makes me feel like a number rather than a person."
"I hate getting weighed because no matter what the number is, I know I'll never be happy with it."
"In my high school health class, the teacher had us make this huge chart on the whiteboard with our weight, fat caliper measurements, and our waist circumferences so we could make graphs about the whole class. Even though mine weren't that different from everyone else's, it was humiliating because I jest felt so exposed and violated. I remember coming home that day and crying and wishing my numbers had been lower."
"It makes me nervous because I don't want to know I've put on a lot of weight."
"We calculated our BMI's in PE and weighed ourselves with partners. My BMI has always been on the higher end because I'm a swimmer and have lots of muscle. The teacher told me I was at risk for being overweight and that I needed to start healthier habits. Lunch period was right before PE. I always felt so guilty eating right before going to that class because the teacher would often ask what we had eaten for lunch. It definitely affected what and how much I ate for lunch that year. I felt like she thought I didn't deserve to eat anything because my BMI was high. I associated eating lunch with a lot of guilt."
"Per my 10th grade PE class requirement, I gripped the handheld BMI calculator as instructed by my PE coach, and was horrified when I saw the number. My BMI placed me in the higher end of what our PE coach said was a normal age for girls my age. Even though it was normal I was mortified. All of the girls swarmed around the locker room, comparing results, scrutinizing their bodies in the mirror, and criticizing themselves for being too fat (even though their BMIs were lower than mine!). In no way did we receive a lesson in healthy living. On the contrary, this was an activity in breeding insecurity and unhealthy competition. It was clear that our coach either had no foresight or just total disregard for the ramifications of evaluating the bodies of already insecure teenagers. No educational discussion of the results took place, and many of us were left with a bruised self-esteem and the take-home message that the less fat on our bodies, the "healthier" we were (nevermind our mental health...)."