Is first lady Michelle Obama turning obese children into targets for bullies?
The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, an organization "dedicated to ending size discrimination," says yes.
According to CNS News, the group has charged that Obama's "Let's Move" campaign -- aimed at tackling childhood obesity -- "singles out" heavy children and gives "permission to everyone to condemn them" for their size.
Peggy Howell, the group's spokeswoman, said the "well-intentioned but somewhat misdirected" campaign focuses too much on the bodies of heavier children rather than encouraging healthy practices for all.
"When children of higher body weight hear we have to wipe out childhood obesity in one generation, for them, those words translate into 'we have to eliminate obese children,'" Howell said. "They hear 'thin equals good, and fat equals bad.' They hear 'your body is bad.'"
Watch the video, via CNS News:
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In the case of bullies who target overweight children, "the perpetrators feel justified in their actions because after all, the first lady said these kids have to go," Howell said.
"I believe it was not the intention of the first lady to cause more pain and suffering for these children, but I believe it is also one of the consequences of focusing on reducing body size as opposed to improving health," Howell said.
Howell's comments come as the organization is trying to encourage lawmakers to add legal protection for heavier or shorter children to a proposed anti-bullying bill.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in March, would require schools and districts that receive designated federal funding to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment. As it currently stands, the bill would protect children from bullying based on their race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion, according to a statement from Casey's office earlier this year.