Claire Mills, a teacher from Llandrindod, Powys, found herself in the news recently after losing an impressive eight and a half stone, reducing herself from a size 26 to a size ten. While great for her, this doesn’t seem all that newsworthy until you hear the reason she decided to diet.
According to the reports, she decided to go ahead when she overheard a pupil describe her as an ‘upside down prawn’, as in he would keep the head but throw away the body.
The way this has been reported really disturbs me. Who was this pupil? Did he ever face any consequences for spouting such horrible nonsense about a teacher who didn’t deserve it? None of the papers involved seem to know, or care. As far as we know, this pupil got clean away with it.
Now, I’m not looking to demonise him, far from it. We’ve all been teenagers, and said and done things without thinking about how they would affect others. However, was he not pulled aside and encouraged not to use that kind of mean spirited, objectifying language again? I can understand if Claire herself couldn’t do it, as no matter who says them, those nasty comments hurt. Surely though, someone would have had a word?
What worries me most is that with the spread of this story shows that not only is it okay to use such language, but that, in fact, you could be doing the object of your derision a favour! Claire seems to pin all the ‘blame’ on him, saying his comments were the catalyst for her weight loss. Thanks to him, we can now look at all these lovely photos of her, now she’s an acceptable size 10.
Some articles list a couple of Claire’s achievements as a side note. She is a Duke of Edinburgh Development Officer, working with disadvantaged children and driving up and down the country on expeditions. She must have to give up great swathes of time, away from home and away from her husband and young daughter, in order to give these children such rewarding experiences.
However, these are apparently lesser achievements than losing weight. Yes, she did well and obviously had to use a great amount of self control to do so, but since she’s a woman she’s only worth hearing about now she’s thinner.
I worry that this is showing teenagers and young people that it’s totally ok to make comments like this. Teachers deserve a lot of our respect, but recent attitudes seem to make some pupils think its ok to speak to them like this. I’d like to think that is an isolated incident, but sadly I don’t think it is.
Image via D'oh Boy's Flickr