“By age six at least half of all American girls are concerned about getting fat.”
I read that this morning in a news report and I was stunned. Those are girls in my class! Concerned about getting fat? Already? Where does that thought come from and who is responsible for it?
Obviously our girls are getting information from their parents, television, music, peers, and other adults. In other words, the whole world! We are a nation obsessed with weight- gaining it and losing it. Unfortunately it is extremely easy to communicate to these girls, and everyone else, the idea that fat people are bad.
The major problem that I see regarding weight is that we are NOT obsessed with being healthy or even healthier, just obsessed with that number on the scale, just with fitting into cute clothes, just with impressing someone else with our appearance. Most women will do almost any crazy thing, from pills to shakes to powders to starvation to achieve that number. If we aren’t eating a healthy diet in front of our children then how can we expect them to eat healthy foods?
We give such mixed messages to children! We start them off at about age three with sodas, junk from the drive-thru, candy, doughnuts for breakfast, fried everything, chips, and plastic lunches in a box. Then we try to tell them at about age six or eight that they should eat their fruit and vegetables! A healthy diet has to be a natural way of life from the time they start eating solid food. It has to be the “norm” for your household or you just end up fighting that junk food addiction forever.
I know you are looking at me and thinking “what does that fat woman know?” I know I was not a fat child or fat teen or fat younger woman. I know I made a lot of mistakes over the years- with my own eating habits and with those of my children. I know I didn’t always read labels or stay informed about foods or even understand how bad junk food was for my children. I compare my prior habits to smoking. There was a time when half the people I knew were smokers and most of us had very little understanding of how bad it was. I never tried it because I hated the smell and I had allergies, but I never had the thought that it would kill me if I smoked. Now that everyone knows it WILL kill you I see no reason for anyone to take up the habit. Same with food. We have the evidence that sodas are bad for children so why do we ever let them start drinking them? We know that fast food has far too much salt and fat, so why make that a major part of a child’s diet?
Healthy habits have to begin early! Somehow we have to start turning this trend around so that our young girls, and boys, won’t have to be obsessed with how much they weigh because they will be too busy just living a healthy, happy life.