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What I Learned in My High School Health Class Didn't Help Me Learn to Love My Body

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Health class. It is required at my high school. We talk about physical fitness, sexual health, drugs, alcohol and weight.

What about weight, exactly? We learn how to calculate BMI (body mass index). We learn about what a healthy BMI is. We learn about America’s growing obesity problem and obesity-related illnesses. We also talked about different tests that you can take to determine how much fat is on your body, such as the “skin-fold test.” We learned about what a healthy body “looks like.”

Some of this stuff is important, but when you start to discriminate someone based on their size and weight, then it becomes a problem. I was made to feel “fat” and pathetic. I felt like I had to look a certain way to be “acceptable.” I felt like I had to be able to run a marathon to be considered healthy. I almost cried in class every day when we were on that unit. I couldn’t stand not wearing a hoodie.

One day in class, we had to give ourselves a number based on our size and weight. Zero was considered “underweight,” one was considered “normal” weight and two was considered “overweight.” Three was obese. So, if someone was at a “normal” weight, they still got a point (getting points was considered “bad”).

Being healthy is important, I understand that. But the teacher took it too far. Please stop teaching people to feel worthless because of their bodies. Teach them to love their bodies.

I’ve struggled a lot with loving my body. I don’t love my body at all sometimes. I struggle every day with just wearing a shirt. I sometimes feel so fat, and the teacher has made it even harder for me to love my body. I often hate my body. When I look in the mirror, I often hate what I see. When I weigh myself, I cry.

Be careful what you say. Teach people to love their bodies. Educate, don’t discriminate.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via recep-bg.

Originally published: June 13, 2017
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