<<This broccoli is wearing a brown sweater.
I don't like seeing the fat kid on the show Modern Family.
Not because he’s a bad actor. He’s not. Not because he has curly hair. It’s fine. Not because he’s boring. He’s quite funny, talented too.
I don’t like seeing him because he’s fat.
Let me explain – what I really don’t like about him is that his parents made him fat. I don’t like that this kid had so little exercise and so much food that he looks like he does. I don’t like that a child his age is so big that the TV producers have to put mens button down shirts on him to minimize his girth. I don’t like that he is promoted as a normal, healthy kid. Because he’s not a normal healthy kid. Unfortunately, he’s the picture of bad health.
And he’s only a child. WTF, people.
While I’m at it – let’s talk about something else fat-related. BODY IMAGE ISSUES FOR GIRLS.
Hey, I get it. I’m a girl. In 4th grade I began thinking I was fat and I began to watch what I ate. Can someone tell me WHY IS THIS SO AWFUL??? Why was I made to feel weird and wrong for wanting to be healthy and in shape? Why is noticing that I might have a belly at age 9 a bad thing? Luckily, I managed to control my weight with diet and exercise did not have any struggles with weight until beer drinking and college and then having kids. I’ve definitely been a chubby girl and have had to battle that. But now I’m feeling like I’m pretty fit (not perfect).
Me during pregnancy. And after.
And I’m allowed to say I’M NOT PERFECT. Why can’t I say that? Why am I constantly told by other women to ACCEPT YOUR BODY TYPE? LOVE WHO YOU ARE. Blah blah blah. Shut up. If I think my thighs need toning, I should be within my rights to tone them. Why do you continue to tell me to accept something I consider below my status quo? Why am I bad for not loving every damn thing I see in the mirror?
Why does loving myself mean I can’t continue to work on myself? Why does loving ME mean if my jeans are too tight, I should accept it and still wear them? I LOVE MYSELF TOO MUCH NOT TO WEAR JEANS THAT MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A STUFFED SAUSAGE.
Because guess what else, Cussers? It is this flawed logic that brings our heavy teenage girls to the pool and tells them to WEAR BIKINIS. Don’t you dare tell me that you think that it’s okay for a girl who has been unfairly tasked with a weight challenge to wear a small bikini where her tummy hangs out over the front and creates a shadow. IT IS NOT OKAY. By telling them to love themselves NO MATTER WHAT we are effectively telling them to never try to better themselves. And it’s this blind acceptance that literally puts their health at risk. LITERALLY PUTS THEIR HEALTH AT RISK.
And this is a boy problem too.
It breaks my heart to see boys with big bellies and bowed backs.
And I’m well aware of the types of eating disorders that can come along with not liking your body. Like you, I also had a friend who was bulimic, or one that was anorexic, or one that took laxatives or maybe all three. I definitely didn't always view my weight in a healthy way and I recognize fully that the “love yourself no matter what” message was promoted to combat those awful mental disorders. I agree we should love ourselves. I agree those disorders are not okay and also can put our kids at risk.
But what we’ve effectively done is steer to the other extreme now. It’s either you’re an unhealthy 85 lbs and miserable or you’re an unhealthy 260 lbs and loving yourself no matter what. But are you really? Just because you talk about diet and exercise with your kids doesn't mean they are going to become anorexic.
There can and should be a happy medium. Here’s what I suggest:
1. Stop giving your elementary aged kid a dessert to have every day in his/her lunch. What is the purpose of this? It’s extra crap that’s unnecessary. Believe me - between birthday cupcakes brought in by well-meaning parents and classroom holiday parties your kids are getting plenty of dessert at school.
2. Start letting your kids go outside. Everything doesn’t have to be a flippin FAMILY EVENT. It doesn’t have to always be the family bike ride. The family walk. The family jump on the trampoline. I’m not saying don’t do family events. REPEAT: I AM NOT SAYING DON’T DO FAMILY EVENTS. I am saying, however, that you are a busy parent. You can’t always do a family exercise. Doesn’t mean your kid needs to stay inside because you’re doing laundry. Let em out. Put em out.
3. Think long and hard about what you feed them. I’m not anywhere near perfect in this area. I make a kick ASS mac and cheese that would knock your socks off. And sometimes, getting my boys to eat a vegetable is equivalent to stabbing them repeatedly in the tongue with a hot fork.
4. Make a lifestyle change. Not a yo-yo “Mom and Dad are on a health kick so you have to eat your broccoli” to “Mom and Dad were craving fried chicken, chow time!” It’s confusing. And fried stuff always tastes better than broccoli, duh. Doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to eat.
5. Don’t fry the broccoli.
6. Stop with the snacks. I have found that really hungry kids will actually eat a vegetable if it’s offered. I didn’t say they will like it. But they will eat it. While rolling their eyes and telling you that their other friends at school never eat vegetables.
7. Teach your kids that being heavy is not bad. That if they are heavy or have a heavy friend that this is just a thing to work on and manage (much like getting a math tutor for math challenges doesn't mean you are stupid), because it’s just not a great way to have a healthy future.
8. Stop blaming the school. Stop blaming kidnappers. Stop blaming McDonalds. This whole thing is up to you.
9. Don’t talk to me if you’re an overweight adult. That is your decision. And I don’t judge you for it. You’re an adult. I love you no matter what you look like. Seriously. This is about kids. REPEAT: This is about kids.
10. And I also know there are medical reasons for weight challenges. I know there are other factors that come into play when it comes to weight. But let’s be honest those folks are not the norm – there’s a reason we have shows like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover – Weight Loss Edition. There's that "People of Walmart" site that has all kinds of pics of overweight people in unusual clothing. Honey freakin Boo Boo has a her own show. Shut it.
Just think of it this way. You put the right gas in your car so it will run well. You put the wrong kind of gas in and what happens?
Exactly. Your car gets fat.
Wait, I mean it runs poorly or not at all. Give your kids healthy gas. Wait, don’t give them gas. Give them healthy food that will give them gas. Yes, that’s it.
Give your kids healthy food that will give them gas. You can quote me on that.