Why Fat Girls Don’t Go To College?

As you know, I’ve been studying girls, women and body esteem for quite a while. It’s so hard for girls to feel like they “fit in” when our culture sensationalizes thinness and rejects people who deviate from the media’s thin ideal. This cultural issue has a high cost. It isn’t only a problem because it creates a breeding ground for disordered eating behavior and low self confidence, but also because it can cultivate social problems such as bullying, ostracization, and academic failure to thrive.

A new study indicates that a supportive, respectful peer culture, which makes children feel as though they “fit in” is just as crucial to a student’s success as high academic expectations. Among the results was a finding that those students who were categorized as clinically “obese” were less likely to go to college than those students who were considered of medically “normal” weight. Perhaps not surprisingly, the issue was much more severe for girls than for boys.

Who did it? Robert Crosnoe and Chandra Muller

Where was it published? July issue of Sociology of Education

Where did the data come from? The ongoing National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health provided data from over 11,000 teens in 7th-12th grade from 128 schools in the US

What did he find? Teens who were categorized as “obese” tended to have to cope with more social isolation. They were less likely to go to college and take advanced classes even though their same-age peers were doing so. In addition, In school cultures in which students were less likely to be considered “clinically obese” and “overweight,” 61% of “obese” girls didn’t continue school. However, in a school in which at least 1/3 of students were indeed considered medically obese, only 17% of “obese” girls did not go on.

Gender Issues: Because body appearance is so central to girls, girls are more likely to compare themselves to their female classmates and peers around them than are boys.

“Your school and your culture affects how you view academics and your future. Social ups and downs are a big distraction…many of the kids said it’s hard to sit and do your homework when you’re worried about what will happen in school the next day.” (Crosnoe)

Overcoming the Odds: Kiss These Assets

  • How did some socially isolated students thrive despite their social issues? Here are their very important assets: Very supportive parents, at least one good friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and finding a niche in an extracurricular activity. Enrolling your child in a positive extracurricular activity where character, confidence, connection, individual competence, caring and compassion are stressed, such as in an academy that is using Powerful Words, is more important than ever. 

How did you fit into your school culture? How has your child found his or her place within the school culture? How do you see a powerful extracurricular helping this situation? Please share your “secrets” so we can spread the ideas to all those who can use them!

Please comment below.

Have a Great Day!


One Response

  1. […] Kiss My Assets: The Body Image Resource Blog: why fat girls don’t go to college? […]

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