Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kids and weight

I recently saw some pictures of me with my cousin when we were both little kids. He was six months older than me but was a lot smaller than me in all of the pictures. Seeing them brought back the memory of feeling too big. I said something to my mom and she said that he was always small for his age. Even looking at them now, I don't register him as small, I see myself as too big. I never had a weight problem as a kid but I always carried any extra weight I had in my belly. I was one of the smaller kids in my class, though I was younger than most of the others because I started school early, so I probably was about average. There were two very thin girls in my class, and everyone thought of them as the prettiest girls, and I only remember comparing myself to them.

I see adults comparing kids now and I want to make them stop. My nephew was a preemie, a very tiny preemie who didn't fit into even the smallest preemie clothes. My cousin had a son a month or two earlier, and his kid started out with a lot of baby fat. My aunt, his grandmother, worried about how big he seemed, which is really screwed up. She worried about the size of a healthy baby because she was comparing him to a premature baby! Of course the chubby baby thinned out as he started walking, and my nephew filled out as he got healthy.

I really wish that adults would think about how wrong it is to label a kid "fat" before he's even out of diapers. Once that "too big" label is out there, it tends to stick. Reading weight blogs, I wonder how many people now struggling with their weight would have grown out of their baby fat and gone on to be healthy, normal-sized people if they had never been taught to feel self-conscious and worried about their bodies when they were kids.

I'm not a parent so I know that it's easy for me to judge. Still, I'd like to see parents getting their kids out and active and having fun -- not overly-competitive sports and boring gym-class calisthenics, but playing and nature walks and bike rides. I'd like parents to give their kids a realistic amount of freedom to explore life on their own. I think parents should set a good example for their kids by buying and eating healthy foods but not make a big huge deal about it. And I'd like a ban on anyone over the age of 18 commenting on the body of a minor, whether or not the kid is present to hear it.


  1. That happened to me. I was naturally a little bigger than my sisters, and my mother was always focused on what I was eating, saying things like "do you really need another helping of..." I look at my pictures and realize I was not fat. But the constant harrassment led to dieting as a teenager and an unhealthy focus on food which eventually led to my being 100 pounds overweight. I've lost half and am struggling to complete the job. I wish she had just left me alone. I have three kids, I let them eat what they want, I figure they know if they are hungry. But they can't eat what isn't here so I try to control them that way. I never label food as good or bad. When the school does it I tell them nothing in moderation is going to hurt you. No weight problems so far with them and they are 13 and 9(the other is only 2). I just with I had a better handle on myself as an example to them. Thank you for this, it is nice to know I am not alone. I read and enjoy your blog regularly but have never posted. Thanks.

  2. I am a parent and you are dead on with your assessments. I have to help my kids not absorb the society messages of "fat" and "thin". They hear the same messages we here.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07