This post over at We Are The Real Deal had me feeling affronted, even belligerent, against a project that hasn’t even taken of and that I know next to nothing about purely because of the way it’s pushed at its target audience.
As a tween (ugh, I hate that word! Sounds like some inane macrame technique!) and teen I was a varsity and amateur athlete competing in state, national and even a couple international events. I was also obese according to the BMI scale, a tiny, wiry kid with quite a bit of lean muscle mass for her small frame. I reached my current height only around age 18, which is late for girls or so I’m told. I hated scales with a passion and cried at every doctor’s visit not because of the shots but because I would see my height/weight ratio creep into that red crying smiley-faced region of the scoreboard. Used to being successful, this made me feel like a failure, even though the doctor tried to soften the blow by telling me her scale was faulty- yeah, right. Then why wasn’t it faulty when my baby brother was on it?
This “war on childhood obesity”, as it is worded, sounds more like a “war on obese children” to me. Let them be eliminated! Let them be bullied, harassed, harangued and driven out of school. Let them be called “fatso”, like I was (wearing a size 4, I might add). Let them go cry to their parents, who will gently tell them that this is all part of a great master plan to eliminate their type in this country.
Sorry to say, but the project fails by virtue of marketing. Let’s start it anew, focus on good health for everybody and making moving fun.
I loved gym class as a kid, and even in HS. I was sporty, I could throw a ball as hard and far as most of the boys and my curve is still sharp. Climbing a rope using just my arms? No problem. Doing my own height in high jump? No problem. Fourteen feet plus in long jumping? Got it. Balance beam, gymnastics on the floor, volleyball, tennis, fencing, Tae Kwon Do, ballroom dancing, ballet (which I was thrown out of for being too heavy when I was fourteen- oh wow!), push-ups, sit-ups… I can still do most of these things. I’m also desperately trying to lose some muscle mass because I want to look slimmer, less bulky and built. Now imagine being the fat kid and not being able to hold your own against everybody else. How hard will it be for them? They will not only be called fatso, they will prove that they ARE fatso. Plus, they are unwanted, as evidenced by the fact that there’s a war going on against them.
Discrimination anyone? I’m not by far a FA supporter, I do somewhat buy into HAES with a few limitations (like me thinking that some sizes just AREN’T healthy anymore, e.g. a couple guys on that Biggest Loser show), but this has me wanting to put on twenty pounds and wear a t-shirt saying “I’m fat but I can outrun you, out-lift you, out-kick you and out-throw you. Wanna try?”. Maybe I’ll go make that shirt regardless. It’s worth it if it saves a kid from crying one tear too many.
Providing better nutrition at school, more tips to parents about eating healthy and getting moving, encouraging kids to believe sports are fun- all this is great. Then why, oh why, name it part of a war? Why can’t it just be a “Let’s have fun doing sports!” campaign? Why does the whole “obesity trauma” have to be attached?
Everybody has something involving moving around that they will love doing. Strolling around shopping, running along the canal (which I still can’t do ’cause of the inches of ice sheeted on my trail), dancing, tsumba classes, weightlifting, ball sports, martial arts… there are as many opportunities to enjoy your body’s natural desire to be in motion as there are people. If you want to skip back and forth across the street singing “I’m a Little Teacup” go for it! That’s what this campaign should teach us- to go for what is fun, easy and healthy. Not to go wage war on innocent children.