Small researchers get the bigger picture about size-ism

7th November 2003 at 00:00
Extracts from: Hey, I'm nine not six!: a small-scale investigation of looking younger than your age at school by Anna Carlini and Emma Barry:

We were interested in this subject because there was somebody in our class, Kaz, who looked much younger than her age and we wondered how this affected her. We are both average size for our age and so it is hard for us to imagine what it must be like for Kaz. Also, we had noticed that other children responded differently to her. We focused on two pupils, Kaz, 9, and Rose, 10 (their names have been changed).


During break times and lunch times we observed Kaz for a period of one whole week and made notes into a dictaphone as we watched. We then did the same for Rose during a second week. Then we interviewed each of them and taped the interviews.

The Findings: Observations

We looked at things that kept happening each day and started grouping these together, into 'themes'.

Kaz - Theme: Being treated like a cuddly doll

* Her friends kept picking her up

* Her friends kept swinging and twirling Kaz around

* Kaz was being hugged quite a lotTheme: Trying hard to get attention

* Kaz kept hanging onto people in her group

* Kaz kept gripping onto friends' hands and arms

* Kaz often shouted loudly

Rose - Theme: Being treated like a cuddly doll

* Rose got picked up quite a lot

* Rose got twirled round a lot

* Friends were playing at trying to "stretch" Rose Theme: Trying hard to get attention

* Rose kept clinging onto people

* Rose tried to pull people away to get their attention

* Rose was yelling a lot louder than anyone else in the group

Neither of them thought that this affected their friendships because their friends liked them for who they were not how big they were. Both of them had been bullied by girls a lot taller than them. The bullying happened when they were both seven but has not happened again since then. When we asked them about being swung round a lot in the playground they both said they liked this but that they didn't like being picked up as this felt like being "babied".

Conclusions If we were to do it again we would need to do this with larger numbers and with boys as well. We have been wondering whether adult researchers would have found out what we did if they had investigated this topic. We think they would have been more experienced at interviewing, but on the other hand, Rose and Kaz might not have told them as much as they were prepared to tell us because we are the same age as them. Also, because we are used to the kinds of games that our age-group play we can more easily see if something is different or unusual.

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