Despite eating a healthy diet, which includes vegetables, salads and fruits for over the last two years, LaNiyah Bailey has been bullied by her peers for both the size of her stomach and the amount of time she spends in the bathroom. There are many kids going through similar situations with bullying from body size to the way they speak. As a mom and writer, I am happy to help LaNiyah share her message.
Six-year-old author, LaNiyah Bailey, released her debut book, Not Fat Because I Wanna Be in April 2010. In her book, LaNiyah details the struggle of Jessica, a fictional girl who has an underlying medical issue that causes her to gain weight. Bullied by her peers, Jessica learns to accept her body and eventually opens up about her condition to her classmates.
What I love about this book is my family can relate to Jessica, and LaNiyah and her family’s struggles. My son also had this same problem in his early school years. The reason? An enlarged colon… just like LaNiyah.
LaNiyah stated, “I just wish this book can help other kids like me …and I wish it can help people see that [even though] you might be big that you are not unhealthy or … a monster like people may make you feel.”
LaNiyah decided to write Not Fat in November 2010, when she’d had just about enough of being called “fat.” Encountering bullies and teasing head-on, at the tender age of three has helped LaNiyah distinguish some of the lasting effects of bullying. Her mom stated in a recent interview, “LaNiyah had become withdrawn at home and showed signs of separation anxiety when I would drop her off at daycare and school.”
Statistics show that over 300,000 kids ditch school every day to be relieved from their bullies. This is a sad but true fact. Being proactive and trying quickly to turn a negative into a positive LaNiyah’s mom decided she needed to find a way for her young daughter to release this horrific thing that was taking her daughter over. LaNiyah started to write to help her deal with daily struggles — something many children’s psychologist suggest — when she was only in kindergarten. From there her book was born.
LaNiyah has gone through many of the same things her fictional character Jessica went through. Inspired not to sit around and feel sorry for herself, LaNiyah told people what she was going through, hoping it would make people see you can’t judge others from their outside self. LaNiyah is living proof of this. Even though LaNiyah is a debut author, she is still your typical six-year-old who loves playing with her puppy Diva, and doing girl stuff such as playing with dolls, putting on make-up with her cousins and hanging out with her best friend, Chase.
During an interview, LaNiyah shared what she would tell all the kids in the world if she could. “Well, I want kids to know that they are important and special. If they are being bullied, they should not be scared or embarrassed to talk to their mom, dad, or teacher about it. And if they are the person bullying someone, they should stop it because it is not nice to make someone feel bad about themselves and they should think of how it would make them feel if someone did it to them,” stated LaNiyah. Such wise words from a wonderful youth.
With a message that words can hurt and that not all weight gain is due to an unhealthy lifestyle, LaNiyah Bailey hopes her book will enlighten and entertain her young readers. She has already taken her message beyond the pages of her book with a World of Ink Virtual Tour and speaking publically for the first time at the African-American Youth Day Festival.