Every week there is a new catch phrase on the Internet, usually with a hashtag attached to it. I rarely know what they mean and I don’t really care. Lately, I have been seeing the term “fat shaming” popping up a lot on social media. I didn’t know what it meant either. So I decided to read about it a bit.
I’ve never been fat. I’ve never been called fat and I have no idea what it feels like to be fat. What I do have experience with is being extremely underweight. In my younger years not a day went by where somebody didn’t feel the need to point that fact out to me. So it is safe to say my body image was not optimal as a youth. Kids are mean; there is no getting around it. Most of us are all so self-centered and insecure that we feel the need to point out and criticize anything we see that strays from the accepted norms. It makes us feel good. That is how we are wired as human beings. Sad, but true.
After reading some of these articles I had to ask myself the question, “Is it okay to be fat?” My immediate response was “absolutely not.” There is nothing at all that is healthy about obesity. It is bad for you in every conceivable manner, from a cardiovascular standpoint to cerebral, to endocrine and soft tissue. When we see an obese child, you can bet their parents say, “It’s okay, you are beautiful on the inside and that is what counts” or “Eat whatever you like and learn to love yourself”. I am not saying that fat people are ugly or that fat people should be teased and scorned. Quite the contrary. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. The former is entirely subjective and to ridicule someone for the latter is morally wrong and reprehensible.
I save my judgement and disapproval for the parents of obese children. They are solely responsible for allowing their children to stuff their faces with highly processed crap and permitting them to sit around on their backsides staring at a computer screen for hours on end. It is a form of child abuse. This is the type of behaviour that carries on into adulthood and continues throughout one’s entire life.
What we need to be doing is educating and supporting our children. We support them through education, not by giving them a “there there” followed by a pat on the back. Teaching them how to live a healthier and more active lifestyle means being a good role model. We all learn behaviour through example. One of the most powerful ways to encourage your child to be active and eat well is to do it yourself. Set a good example by going for a walk or bike ride instead of staring at the boob tube or surfing the Internet. Playing ball in the park or swimming with your children reinforces that being active is fun and it is a great way to bond with your children.
As a parent, you are entirely in control of what and how much goes into your child’s mouth when they are on your watch. A good rule of thumb when preparing meals for your child is to start with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry. Make a point of serving their food on child size plates. It is not necessary to make your child finish everything on the plate or eat more than they want to. Encourage your child to eat slowly and keep their meal times consistent.
Regardless of your genetics, culture or income, obesity is preventable. Don’t try and convince yourself otherwise