Okay, for the first part of the blog, we're going to assume that childhood obesity can and should be prevented. So bear with me.
I was watching the news this afternoon, and an interview came on with a local Weight Watchers guru (who I think has lost MORE weight through multiple facelifts ) and a young woman who had lost 55 pounds on Weight Watchers.
I roll my eyes. Yet another weight loss story.
This woman (a nurse at a prestigious hospital), said that she had always been "heavy," even as a child, and had always thought of herself as the fat girl. This I can relate to. My body type isn't dainty or waif-like. Never was. I understand this all too well .
The ludiocrity of this interview was just starting. The nurse said, now that she's thin, she can actually feel good about herself.
Honey, I hate to break it to ya, but that's temporary. If you gain even a little weight back (quite likely), you're gonna feel like utter crap. And then you diet again so you feel better. It's not an eating disorder per se , but it can be an unhealthy obsession with food and weight.
The sad thing is, it's quite normal in our society. If a friend asks if a pair of pants makes her butt look fat, it's like entering a mine field. You can't say yes, because the said friend will freak the hell out. And if you say no, she won't believe you. It's this odd female dialogue that goes on.
Female 1: I am so fat. I can't wait to start losing some of this weight.
Female 2: You think you're fat? No, I'm fat. You're a toothpick compared to me.
F1: Seriously, look at my butt! It's huge!
F2: Not compared to mine. Besides, you have a great figure.
F1: It's only a great figure if you're posing as Venus of Willendorf .
F2: But you're well-proportioned. My hips are way too big for my body.
And on and on it goes. Sometimes, I think asking if I look fat in something is a subtle way of fishing for a compliment. That I might actually look okay or even- gasp!- good. Another thing that question does for me is to help combat my continuing anxieties about fat. In a sense, I know I'm probably not going to get a safe answer. On the other hand, I need that answer, that reassurance. I am terrified of being fat. I'm not terrified of fat people, or of fatness in general, just of me, Carrie, being fat. We need those lies, sometimes.
Women who have been fat and have dieted their way (I initially typed in "weigh." Go figure.) to eternal happiness and bliss have also expressed concern over their own children's fates.
The nurse who was being interviewed by the over face-lifted WW guru said that she wanted to keep her kids from going through what she went through (the teasing and low self-esteem). A good, noble idea. But she was going to do it by telling them how awful it was to be a fat kid.
Brilliant. If a kid is genetically predisposed to be larger, and you're telling them fat kids are called names, teased, hated by society and the only way to prevent this is to be thin, then you're only further lowering your child's self worth. Shame never results in lasting behavior change.
Emphasizing eating a wide variety of foods, of eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full, along with moving your body for fun, that's how you can help your child feel better about themselves. Not by telling them how awful it is to be fat. I doubt a single American child out there doesn't think of fat people as some sort of lesser species.
I think a mother's ability to relate to their child's problems (what it's like to be teased or singled out) is great, and can be quite helpful. But saying, "You wouldn't get teased as much if you weren't fat," is so horribly wrong.
That's the one thing in the world I wish I could put an end to. Self-hatred. Yes, poverty, world hunger, and a cure for AIDS are right up there, but self-hatred kills, too. Not always literally, but it can leave you mentally and spiritually dead.
In it's place, I would like self-acceptance. It's the only way.