Weight: such a heavy word and so easily used to injure. What began this long standing fascination with weight ? When did we begin to judge and comment and criticize based on someone’s size ? How did it become taboo to talk about it and yet it is the topic of so many discussions, articles, books, magazines, TV shows and movies. Everyone from Oprah to the Simpsons, from Best Health to the Enquirer, from the water cooler to the school yard. People fight over it, stress about it and die for it. To what end ? Are we happier as a weight focused, image conscious society ? Are we more productive, more likable, more acceptable as people because of this focus ? I don’t think so.
Weight loss, weight management, weight control: it all means the same thing. It is implied in all the ads: if you are overweight then you lack the intelligence and control and it is your fault. You are losing out on friends, love, fun and the great life all the skinny people have because of your weight. So put down that doughnut and join us ! We’ll manage your diet and control your cravings so the only loss you’ll feel is in your waist line. If you are fat, then the only thing waiting for you is death. No wonder people are dying to be thin. The alternative is presented as a death sentence anyway. Or a life sentence of hopelessness and pity dates. You are unlovable and unworthy unless both legs fit in one side of a size 0 skinny jean from the juniors department. When did it become acceptable to punish and demean based on size ? Why don’t we focus on health not the asthetic aspect ?
What started this rant you ask ? Did someone try to touch my cruller and make me bitter ? Not at all. In fact I don’t even like doughnuts that much. A friend advised me in the most nonchalant manner that my daughter is overweight. I was shocked. Not obese mind you, simply overweight. I was still shocked. At 10 years old, my daughter is already being judged and by one of my friends no less.
I grew up as a skinny kid. No muffin top. No love handles. I was the one who got the “wow look how tiny she is” comments. I was the one whose mother bought 3 pairs of the same pants if they fit. Being average weight would have been a relief but I never felt pressured. I don’t recall worrying about it like girls do now. Then again, I was what everyone else wanted to be so of course I didn’t think about it. Now I need to think about it.
My husband was a competitive body builder and still trains. I’ve trained off and on for 20 years. Our family is relatively active with hiking, swimming, biking, camping, etc. We all have a pretty good background in the “eat less, move more” philosophy. Having said that, neither of my children has shown any interest in organized sports and I’ve never been interested in signing them up. I played and refereed soccer for 4 years and I still haven’t signed them up. Up until recently, my daughter has not enjoyed running and quite frankly I can’t blame her. Neither do I. This is catching up with both of us. My husband takes care of the body and I take care of the mind. I would rather sit and read than jog. Sweat is something I wipe on a towel as I reach for another juice box out of the cooler at the beach. Imitating a Baywatch babe – not going to happen.
The comment my friend made is slightly true. My daughter does have a bit of a pudge but nothing that a growth spurt, some exercise and less frozen yogurt couldn’t take care of. What bothers me more is that this made me feel like a failure as her mother. Am I turning my daughter into a couch potato bookworm with a penchant for sweets ? Oy vey ! While I believe my friend is overdoing it to avoid the trap of obesity that pervades her family history, I who have never struggled, am failing to protect my child by not being a positive, active role model.
The winter months are tough for me to stay active as my chief form of exercise is walking. The cold comes and I hang up my sneakers and pull out the fleece blanket. See you in the spring old friends ! Unless I want both my daughter and I to end up with three sets of boobs, I need to find a way to overcome my tendency to hibernate and get moving on a regular basis. I will take control and manage this issue. It won’t be about what I might lose but what both of us will gain. A strong, fit, healthy daughter and a mother who is proud to be her role model. It will be nice to drop that heavy load figuratively and literally.