In the U.S., childhood obesity keeps rising precipitously and many parents seem at a loss about what to do except let kids play outside, stop feeding them sugar & processed food at meals and “rewarding” them with treats, spend time with them actually cooking (not heating or microwaving) and sitting down to family meals of both corporeal and cerebral nourishment, empower them with kid-sized life choices and/or make them feel valued & essential to the planet. Barring those, what better way to handle fat than to discuss dieting to little kids. Next stop, eating disorders.
Last year, a book—written by a man—targeted to 4-8 year-olds and entitled, Maggie Goes on a Diet, tells the story of 14-year-old Maggie who bullied about her weight decides to do something about it. Well, we all know boys won’t be reading this book, not with a fat female protagonist. Cathleen Connors, author of HerBadMother.com astutely commented, “It’s so interesting that he didn’t write it about a boy, and that he uses girl-body-image stereotypes to make his point—young girl dreaming about fitting into nice jeans, etc.”
Yes. Even as a life-long thin woman, I can feel the pressure. Telling girls that in order to succeed, be considered healthy or beautiful and—pathetically—even smart, losing that extra weight is the remedy constitutes a dangerous poison that lasts a lifetime.
- Four out of five U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
- 81% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat.
First, there’s more than one reason people put on weight and no enchanted pill, trendy diet or exercise program is going to melt all those reasons (or the fat) away—be you female or male, BTW.
Second, imagine what women could gift the world if they didn’t waste their life force “managing” their weight. Don’t hold your horses waiting for this to change. An abundance of this pressure is internalized, passes from mom to daughter, woman to woman and is constantly reinforced by a male-driven media that traffics in women’s bodies not because they care to create an ideal as much they want to exploit fantasy and fear to make big money.
On the male side: porn, driven by daydream bodies that most guys could never touch even if women really existed like that. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) For females: an unrealistic weight-loss-fantasy-physique that’s about 25% under the BMI. ($33,000,000,000,000+)
Many men I know like “woman-sized” figures—not skinny boy-bodies, not obese bodies. They like to squeeze a woman with actual breasts and hips and thighs. Countless women have real-life dreams that lie dead or dormant before the altar of “thin.”
To celebrate women of all ages and shapes, here’s Lucille Clifton’s 1987 poem:
Homage to my Hips
these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top