In my guest post on All The Weigh last week (The Invisible [Horrible, Lazy, Unattractive] Fat Person), I talked about how pervasive fat hate — and self hate — is, and that it starts young. In one study, 9-year-old girls ascribed patently negative words to pictures of fat people, and positive words to pictures of thin people.
Now, go younger. Good Morning America featured the story of a six-year-old girl who thinks she is fat. They also assembled a group of young girls to talk about fat, diets and then evaluate pictures of children — thin and chubby. The results? Terrible:
I had a major flashback watching that panel. Some of those girls literally look just like girls I went to elementary school with. I *am* the “chubby wubby” in the blue shirt (omgggggg puberty hitting at 8 and my “tater tots” coming in).
Children get self-hating/fat hating messages everywhere — on TV, in movies, magazines, adverts and their own parents and teachers. They internalize these messages, and turn around and bully each other — a girl in the bathroom asked this six-year-old why she had a fat tummy! What does this say about the adults in these girls’ lives? One girl observes that her mom goes to the gym because she thinks she is overweight — but the daughter doesn’t think so. Another says their teacher is on a diet and “can’t eat cake,” and they ask her when she will be done and she says “not yet.” (even six-year-olds know you can’t keep up a restriction diet, eh?) Can I just say: why the HELL did a teacher tell her students that she’s on a diet? Totally inappropriate.
Listen to these girls and what they’re saying — “my teacher told me,” “my mommy told me”… that I need to be healthy so I don’t get fat.
This is what the health-obsessive awareness campaigns & culture are getting us: not children who are properly healthy minded, but those who fear and stigmatize fat & obesity, and believe you can’t be healthy and “fat.” Problem is, their concept of “fat” is ridiculously skewed, as well.
If the children are our future… the future is bleak.