by ALANA HOUSE
OK, there, I’ve said it. So shoot me.
It feels like some shameful secret I’m supposed to hide – my joy that my children have strong, lithe, healthy bodies.
When I enter my local aquatic centre, I shudder at the size of some of the kids in their cossies. I murmur a prayer of thanks that mine aren’t carrying all those spare tyres.
Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t love my children less if they were large. They will always be my sweethearts, no matter what. And I will always foster their self-esteem, no matter what. But I really hope – for their sakes – that they stay thin.
Perhaps “thin” is the wrong word. It’s been bastardised to mean size sub-size-zero celebrities tottering down beaches in bikinis with every rib clearly showing.
What’s the word I’m looking for then? One that means “not fat” … whatever it is, that’s what I want my kids to stay.
I wish “thin” hadn’t become such a corrupted, dirty word. It’s the way nature/God had in mind when it/he/she created us. He/she meant us to be lean, mean fighting machines, not sweating, shuffling mounds of fat.
Australia is one of the fattest nations in the world – fourteen million Aussies are overweight or obese – yet we encourage our children to embrace their shape, no matter what.
I have difficulty stomaching articles like “Making the case for size acceptance”, which makes dubious points like “fat people eat the same as thin people”. I’m sure they do sometimes, there are medical conditions that mean obesity is unavoidable. Or Plus-size bodies what is wrong with them anyway? with its outrage that “50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller”.
I think they’re missing the scary point. If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2025, close to 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese according to a study by Monash University. Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia. It causes diabetes, heart, stroke and vascular diseases.
Health disorders in children like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea can be directly attributed to childhood obesity.
Sure, there’s a fine line you walk with kids when it comes to promoting positive body image. The last thing you want is them to develop an eating disorder or become paranoid about every mouthful they eat. It’s important they don’t decide natural curves are ugly and skeletal is beautiful. Because it’s not. Starving yourself isn’t cool, thinking food is the enemy isn’t healthy.
But food isn’t your best friend either. Its purpose isn’t company, comfort and consolation.
I’m careful not to be a nazi about my children’s diets. They eat junk. We inhaled an outrageous amount of rocky road at the airport yesterday. Airports are temples of junk. Outrageously expensive junk at that. But generally I try to teach them the value of moderation and the benefits of exercising.
It bothers me that I’m not being a good role model for them right now. I’m about 10kg overweight, I guess. I’m too scared to stand on the scales to confirm it. And I know exactly why I’ve gained weight. I’ve been eating too much fatty food, drinking too much wine and blogging instead of exercising. Full stop. Simple as that.
Last night we ate gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce for dinner (the cupboards were bare after a weekend in Melbourne) and drank a bottle of pinot gris. It was an evilly delicious treat for the tastebuds, but not so crash-hot for the waistline.I know if I ate less rubbish and did more exercise I’d feel better, physically and emotionally.
I don’t want to be coddled about my size. I don’t want plus-sized models in my magazines, showing me how to fashionably clothe my expanses and making me think it’s acceptable to have let my girth expand. I don’t want people telling me I look fine just the way I am. I don’t want to become complacent about being 10kg overweight. I don’t want to start thinking it’s normal.
Because it’s not. I want those extra 10 kilos gone. Not because of societal pressure to be thin or media manipulation, but for my health, my family and me.
If that means no more gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce for a while, it’s a fair price to pay.
I’ve said it sooooo many times before, but I really mean it now. Said the woman who meant it last time …
This post was originally published on Alana’s blog here and has been republished with full permission.
How do you approach weight issues when it comes to your children?