When parents are scoping out potential nursery schools for their children, they probably have a list a mile long filled with questions, concerns, and yes, even deal-breakers. Because let's face it — leaving your baby in the care of strangers for the very first time can be terrifying. But the reason this mom refused to enroll her 2-year-old at one specific nursery school is absolutely infuriating.
Her reason? The school's assistant teacher was obese.
Once you've picked up your jaw from the floor, let's look at this a little more closely. Hilary Freeman, a mother and journalist from London, recently defended her decision in an op-ed piece for The Daily Mail. Although this particular teacher seemed kind and good with children when Freeman visited the nursery school with her daughter, she wrote that because she moved so "slowly and breathlessly, her face flushed" was a huge red flag.
"Would she, I wondered, have the lightning reflexes needed to save an adventurous toddler from imminent danger?" Freeman wrote, according to The Daily Mail. "And what sort of unhealthy habits would she teach my daughter, who would be eating her lunch and tea there each day?"
Romper has reached out to Freeman for comment on her op-ed and is awaiting a response.
The fact that other staff members were also overweight was reportedly a deal-breaker for Freeman. "I couldn’t help worrying about the message this was sending to the children in their care: that being very fat is normal — and when children adopt role models so readily — even desirable,” she explained in the op-ed piece.
Freeman explained in her Daily Mail op-ed that she doesn't believe in fat-shaming or discriminating against people who are overweight. However, she said the fat-acceptance movement has gotten out of hand. She wrote:
Originally a response to discrimination against those who aren’t slim enough to fit into society’s beauty ideal, it’s now an excuse for the severely obese to celebrate their bodies, the consequences be damned. Activists say that "fat is beautiful" and being obese isn’t a problem. Anyone who points out it’s not a good thing to be so overweight is condemned. Telling a woman she should think about losing weight for her health is, apparently, now "anti-feminist."
Freeman felt so strongly about the weight of this nursery school's staff, that she ended up choosing another school where caregivers were, what she wrote she considers, a healthy weight. Her brutal honesty has, understandably, evoked strong reactions in the form of thousands of comments.
"So shallow," one reader wrote. "Its [sic] the education that matters not health."
Another person commented, "Teaching your children not to judge on face value would be a far better attribute."
And, unfortunately, she's also reportedly received a few death threats. “I was expecting some level of backlash, given that this is such an emotive subject,” Freeman told Us Weekly. “But I had no idea quite how big it would be.”
Obviously, Freeman has every right to choose a school for her toddler for whatever reasons she deems important. But let's get real, she could have easily addressed her concerns instead of making snap judgements.
For starters, Freeman — who even admitted in her op-ed that she struggled with weight issues in the past — could have simply asked about snack time. (What sorts of snacks are given to the children? Is there an option to bring in a snack from home for her daughter?) She could have approached safety and physical activity in the same manner. (How often do the kids go outside to play? For how long? In what ways are the rooms child-proofed? What other safety precautions are in place?)
Suggesting that kids are in danger of becoming overweight or obese because of the shape of their daycare provider is ridiculous, as if it's some communicable disease. And hinting that BMI directly correlates with how well a person can safely care for a child is straight-up wrong. Because here's the thing: Great caregivers come in all shapes and sizes. It's really too bad this mom missed out on an opportunity to learn this for herself.
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