Recently, pop star Ke$ha made tabloid headlines for a rehab stint due to her alleged eating disorder, hardly a rarity in Hollywood. Far from the spotlight, little did I know that weight issues would hit home until the other night. After going through the usual bath and bedtime routine with our 7-year old, to our astonishment, stumped us with a question out of nowhere: “Mommy, do I look fat?” Our daughter is a healthy, active girl without any health or weight issues, as noted by a recent visit to her pediatrician. We had never had this discussion and honestly didn’t think that we would be hearing this type of question at her young age, but at the rate that nowadays adolescence seems to creep to younger and younger ages, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.
With the alarming rate of childhood obesity linked to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity, healthy habits certainly must be encouraged and is the ideal in every household. Of course, as any mom knows, getting a child to eat healthy is a challenge. Half the time, we’re lucky if she finishes even half of what she is eating at any snack or meal so any concern of weight gain is far-fetched in her case – at the moment, anyway. There have been calls from school from her teacher expressing concern that she was not eating her lunch – however, this is due to her lucky state as a first-world child and not relative to our economic state. But to hear her express any thought that her weight is an issue was a wake-up call. We monitor her entertainment and are actively involved with her academics, with a balance of fun and activities when we can. Does she watch TV? Guilty as charged, but it is monitored and limited.
My spouse and I understand the slippery slope of putting too much emphasis on body weight. Hollywood and media images often celebrate the skinnier and skinniest in revealing clothing or skimpy swimwear. Too much of an emphasis is made in the celebrity world on of being rail-skinny at all costs as opposed to stressing the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and learning to love herself.
No doubt that childhood obesity is a serious problem, and that healthy eating habits should be encouraged. We want to encourage our daughter to live healthy and fit for a better quality of life. We would never want for her to starve herself in an effort to mimic magazine models or movie stars. Children already grow up too fast – let them play and be kids!