So this past week I’ve gotten myself all in a tizzy over two articles targeting “obese” babies as a cause of… you guessed it… childhood obesity, adult obesity, and every other bad thing they can throw at these poor kids.
The first article, by NPR, is titled: To curb childhood obesity, experts say to keep baby fat in check. This is accompanied by a picture much like the one I’ve posted here, of a sweetly chubby baby with tons of delicious and nommable rolls. The recommendations in this article really aren’t so bad, and include things like encouraging kids to be active, limiting tv/screen exposure, breastfeeding longer. Of course, those recommendations are actually (mostly, aside from the breastfeeding recommendation) geared towards 2-5 year olds, and NOT babies under a year old. My issue with this article is more that the title and photo are cheap journalism which doesn’t do anything but fan the flames of fat hate already directed at kids.
In case you aren’t sure, I’m 100% anti-fat-hate. You can go on hating fat kids and adults if you like, but I promise you that it isn’t going to cause any of them to suddenly become “thin.”
The next article, published by PBS, employs the same cheap tactics as the first. An inflammatory headline “15 tips to combat obesity in babies,” accompanied by another sweet chubby baby.
The reason I find these tactics to be both cheap and frankly disgusting and irresponsible is because fat hate is already at a frenzy in this country. Seriously, we don’t need to get anyone else all hot and bothered to hate on fat people or fat kids. We already have enough hate thrown at us on a daily basis, and as someone who grew up fat I can tell you that all the hating everyone did of my body helped me not at all to become more healthy.
We already have people starving their babies to keep them “thin,” parents taking perverse pride in skinny/underweight babies, and small children worried that they “look fat,” that being thin means you are nice and being fat means you are bad. Of course the bulk of this is going to come down on our little girls.
See, the fat shame? That’s already covered. That’s already so prevalent in our society that kids pick it up as they grow. Kids are smart, they can pick up on that without anyone even saying the word “fat” to them. The other day, my sweet girl, now an athletic busy preschooler asked me why my body is so big and wide. She can notice differences without my having to tell her, fancy that!
What we don’t have is the world encouraging our children, at whatever shape and size, to be more active. To get out, join teams, do their best, move their bodies and HAVE FUN, at whatever size they are. That’s what we don’t have. The fat hate? We really don’t need more, and we certainly don’t need to target the smallest and most vulnerable of our population.
If you are a parent, I highly recommend this article and ideas from bulimia.com, which target body image issues among young children. Let’s love our children at every shape and size and enable them to love themselves so that they can move and nourish their bodies without shame, without fear, without hate.