The problem we daren't mention
I’ve written about the word “obesity” before, as some sort of bogey-word best not spake, in case someone might take offense. I concluded in that post that, OK, if using a different word would allow someone to get help they’d otherwise shun, fine. But you can see from my phrasing in the first sentence, I’m still working on meaning it.
And now we have this story from the Guardian in Britain: More than 1,000 parents with a child aged 5-16 were surveyed about how they felt bringing up the topic of weight with their child, and a third said they wouldn’t, for fear of harming self-esteem or triggering an eating disorder.
Worse, the number rises to 65 percent among parents who’ve identified their child as having a weight problem.
While there are better and worse ways to raise such subjects, this seems akin, to me, to being unwilling to ask a child to wash their hands and faces, lest they’ll feel accused of being dirty. And the ones who are the dirtiest — we’ll really avoid the topic then.
I will allow that I got very defensive as a fat child whenever my parents brought the subject up. But I cannot imagine that I would have gotten any better if everyone had been able to see I was fat, but no one was willing to point it out.
Many people, myself included, view fat as a fashion issue — I don’t think that fat people are as attractive as un-fat people, a statement that some will regard as outrageous, but I just think it is true for the vast, vast majority of people, fat people included. In the decades I was fat, I certainly did not yearn for the attentions of other fat people, boy or girl, platonic or not. Let your judging proceed; I’m saying my truth.
But even if people regard fat as a fashion issue, it is foremost, in the great majority of instances, a health issue. And parents who do not impart health priorities to their children are not, IMO, completing their responsibilities. I’m just another bozo on the bus, and I’ll probably screw it up at least partways too, but I am really clear, for today, that modeling good nutrition and including my son in food gardening and preparation are part of my responsibility.
My impression is that legions of parents don’t think that way. They feed their kids fast food, they prefer junk foods themselves and indulge in it not seldomly, they celebrate holidays foremostly through food, and proclaim in myriad other ways that nutrition is for sissies and junk food is the natural part of a good time.
And then, apparently, when the damage is done, many will shy away from mentioning the effects of their own nonverbal cues on their children’s bodies, because they don’t want them to Daddy Downer.
I dunno; you think I’m being too hard on them?