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.

3 comments:

  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.

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  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.

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"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