This was a huge week in the life of #slowchatpe. The first event that occurred was the response to the blog I had written about entitled Help Me, Help Me by Doug Gleddie. Specifically he responded to Question 3 that read: “Q3: Should physical education teachers be physically fit barring medical reasons? Why? #slowchatpe”. His response was enlightening, detailed, researched based, and game changing. I always assumed that an obese person was not physically fit. This is because they don’t look like the typically “fit” person. He showed pictures of ripped athletes on his blog. I would argue that most people think of a fit person as being on the thinner side with some sort of muscle tone and not like professional athletes, but I digress.
His blog enlightened me to a huge surprise. I was a “weightist”. “Weightism: “…the assumption or belief individuals of a certain weight or body size are superior – intellectually, morally, physically – to those who exceed the ideal weight or body size.” (Morimoto, 2008)” I was definitely that. I didn’t feel that I was smarter, or morally above other people, but I did feel that physically I was better than them because I work hard to stay in shape and obviously they did not.
The article went on to talk about two ladies that were heavy that danced and ran. I was still not convinced that I was wrong though. His point was that that I was only concentrating on looks instead of, “…complex skills, active living in the community, health behaviors, or other parts of the PE curriculum”. He was missing the point though that people see an obese person and assume they do not practice what they preach. I mean an obese person has to be sedentary and eat unhealthily correct? Isn’t that why they are obese? I was still not totally convinced by his response so I googled it. Can an obese person be in shape? This article popped up from Fitness Magazine.
The article changed my whole perception of what a physically fit person looks like. I already knew that you could be skinny and out of shape. Could you be obese and in shape? This says it all:
Consider the group of athletes recruited for a recent study at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. All of them are seriously accomplished, having participated in multiple Ironman competitions, marathons, or distance cycling events. And all of them are obese, with fat making up more than 30 percent of their body weight. “From a cardiorespiratory standpoint, they are very strong and very healthy,” says the study’s lead author, Santiago Lorenzo, PhD, a cardiopulmonary researcher at the institute. “They have outstanding endurance and are comparable in fitness to fellow athletes of normal weight.”
Hold on!! An obese person could participate in multiple Ironman competitions, marathons, or distance cycling events!! Holy shnikes my view of what fit looked like was terribly askew.
If the story ended here it would be awesome. #slowchatpe did exactly what it was supposed to. It lit a debate and encouraged others to challenge my beliefs. This is exactly what I want from the chat. I want to constantly grow and become better than I was yesterday. The story doesn’t end there though. The conversation popped up on my Voxer group today. I already knew about the research so when people were talking about how it looks to be obese and a physically education teacher I knew that I should stand up and say we can’t judge a book by its cover and have research to back that statement up. I did just that but during the debate this vox came through: LISTEN. If that didn’t make you rethink how you look at other people I don’t know what will. Here is her second response to the group: LISTEN. This was heartbreaking to hear.
Doug I would like to thank you for going the extra mile and forcing me to defend my position. You blog response forced me to do more research and that is how we evolve as people. Conversation, dialogue, debate, or arguing respectfully challenges people to think on a much deeper level. I now know with scientific research backing my beliefs that what a person looks like cannot determine their fitness level. So tip of the hat to you Doug and the wag of the finger to those that read this and don’t change their thinking.
Q1. What do you do to show your ss that you model physical literacy? #slowchatpe
Q2. Why is it important that ss understand the struggle to stay active? #slowchatpe
Q3. How will/do you change ss mindset that fit=looks? #slowchatpe
Q4. Who in you PLN challenges your statements or assertions? #slowchatpe
Q5. Do you believe it is important to challenge other people on Twitter or Voxer? #slowchatpe
This is a really important post, as it addresses stereotyping and prejudices within our profession. Kudos to you for being open to dialogue and push back, and for sharing this message, especially the Voxes that recount first-hand experiences. I’ve never been overweight myself or even had a coach tell me I needed to lose weight, but I always thought as a teenager and young adult that I needed to lose weight because no one really addressed body image then. I hope this post encourages that kind of discussion in the classroom. Also, I hope this encourages PE/health teachers to be good role models, no matter their shape or size, and to get away from judging others’ ability by the way they look.
Thank you for sharing!