While most kids her age are playing with toys, 7-year-old LaNiyah Bailey is writing books about obesity and preaching advocacy of anti-bullying. Her mantra is: “I am beautiful. I am loved. I will not let what others say define me. Bullying is not cool.” In an effort to share this courageous mindset, LaNiyah created a children’s storybook, Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, about a little girl, Jessica, who is teased by her peers for being overweight.
Written in the first person, LaNiyah’s inspiration comes from her own personal experiences of being “different”. Even before little LaNiyah was consuming solid food she had feeding issues but it wasn’t until the age of 3 that it became noticeable.
As her weight gain grew excessive, LaNiyah’s parents took her to a pediatrician and put her on a strict diet. “The pictures of inside my stomach showed that my colon was really swollen,” LaNiyah writes.
Despite consistent efforts to eat healthy and exercise, LaNiyah still battles obesity weighing over 100 pounds. She is currently undergoing endocrine/pubertal tests to diagnose her weight disparity.
“In preschool, the other kids teased me about being fat,” LaNiyah writes in the book.
At an early age LaNiyah found out first hand that words could be very hurtful. She was made fun of because of her weight at daycare and in school. After spending many days secretly crying, LaNiyah decided to stand up against bullying and fight back with her own words.
This book and her recent coloring activity book, Stand up! Bully Busters Coming To Town, are right on time because both bullying and obesity are prevalent amongst youth. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Also most recently, countless accounts of bullying have ended fatally.
LaNiyah’s book has been used as a teaching aid to create awareness in schools and was recognized as a leading contributor in President Obama’s anti-bullying initiative.
LaNiyah says, “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.”