I was in class the other day when I overheard two girls talking about staying skinny. One said "I'm terrified of getting fat. I will never get fat. If you get fat, that's like the end of everything." The other one replied "Oh I know! My dad made me promise him that I would never get fat, and that I wouldn't get fat after I had kids."
Both girls were slender and small framed and normal sized, but I found their comments highly disturbing. I've been noticing lately on my campus these sorts of comments and ideas about weight are very prevalent. Please someone tell me I'm justified in being slightly horrified that a father would make his daughter promise such a thing. I also find it really sad that these girls think that not being skinny is such an odious thing. I wonder what they perceived 'fat' to be?
My own father will even occasionally insert the comment "I hope you're exercising and eating right." I used to be very overweight, but I lost a lot of it through hard work and discipline, so I guess I can kind of understand his concern that I'll undo that all, because he knows how hard it was for me.
What do you think? Is this behavior and mind-set normal or justified? Or is it bad that girls and their parents are so obsessed with staying thin?
I know a heavy woman who is in her late sixties whose father recently passed away, and in what essentially amounts to his last words, he told her to lose the weight. She knows it was because he wanted her to live a long time, but still it stings.
It does sting-- when I was younger my parents would make comments similar to that all the time. I know they wanted me to just be healthy and happy, but they were going about it the wrong way. Harsh comments about weight can fuel more unhealthy behaviors- binging, emotional eating...
I can understand where this particular father was coming from, because his daughter was already overweight and it may have been his way of telling her "don't make fatal health mistakes like I did."
But a father telling his non-overweight teenage (or younger) daughter never to gain weight... that's a bit creepy, in my view. Kind of like a controlling husband or boyfriend making implicit threats that he will leave his wife/girlfriend if she ever packs on the pounds.
Yeah, I think that's wrong. They're seemed to be more concerned with staying skinny instead of healthy. That's the main thing- whether you're healthy or not. I believe that's the most desirable.
I feel sorry for the parents obsessed with weight to a point they can be hurting their kids. They should be teaching a healthy lifestyle, but more importantly, for the kids to love themselves. This kind of mindset can also be a stimulus for bullying!
Sometimes I wonder if it really is as important as everyone says- skinniness brings happiness? A lot of the girls on campus seem to think so! I wonder if it's driven in part by the shallow guys as well? Even if she's gorgeous, they don't give a heavier girl a second look. Is the media to blame or do humans just intrinsically like more slender forms?
It's a balance of nature and nurture.
I think evolution programmed us to respond to "health" cues, and I believe that underpins our visual responses to people we see, and that is what kicks in first. You can't even help it when you see someone. It's just... BAM. Thumbs up or thumbs down.
Culture (nurture) sets some of that expectation up, because we imprint ideas of healthful bounty as we grow up, but that said, I believe there are some definite hardwired visual cues (called sensory modality) that we can't really escape. The edges of what count can be stretched or thinned by nurture, but nature is in play to a huge an inescapable degree. (And yes, I am fully aware of the "chubby chasers" and other super-outliers and fetishes. I concede their existence, but don't concede that it proves anything beyond bio-hardwiring gone off the standard track. I'm talking about the other 99.9999999%.)
Weight should be all about health and nothing about body image. I think women get an unreasonable image in their heads of their ideal weight, which is usually in the neighborhood of 20 pounds below what's actually healthy. Then, when that goal proves impossible to achieve, they feel terrible about themselves.
Then, suddenly, it no longer matters whether they're twenty pounds over or two hundred pounds over their unrealistic goal weight. They can't hit it anyway, so what does it matter how far over they are? I really think pressure to be skinny is making people fatter.
For some reason, people feel entitled to make judgements on others based on appearance/weight. It's ridiculous. You don't know my blood pressure. You don't know how much I can leg press.
My mother-not-in-law always looks me up and down in a very critical way when she sees me. She's also made comments about my weight gain since she's known me... even thought she knows that I was eating disordered (and malnourished) when we first met.
Hah! I'm with you on that. I finally went to the doctor because everyone was on me about drinking and being fat and whatever. The doctor asked me the standard questions:
"Do you exercise?"
"What are your eating habits?"
"Fast food every day when possible. And at least 2 sodas."
"Do you take drugs?"
"How much is a lot?"
"Probably about five more than you're going to tell me is okay."
So then he starts lecturing me. Hasn't even started the physical yet. Lecture, lecture, gonna die, blah blah.
So he takes my blood pressure and it's slightly low.
Then they do the rest, make me go get bloodwork. I come back. He's actually annoyed. No liver issues. No kidney issues. No cholesterol issues. No nothing. He had to reluctantly concede, "Well, you're healthy as a horse." And then he went into this long boring "But... blah blah" that I ignored.
F---- people who tell you how to live your life. If someone wants to go be skinny, DO IT! More power to them. I just quit the gym for that very reason. lol. I realized I was only there to LOOK better, starting turning shallow just being in the room.
I'm the same. According to height/weight charts, I'm about twenty to thirty pounds overweight, but I don't look it. When I get weighed, the nurse always looks surprised and makes me take off my jacket and empty my pockets and readjusts the scale.
Sometimes I think your actual weight should not even matter. Blood work, blood pressure, fitness levels- I think that's what's important. Health over weight.
My mom used to punish my sister and I for our weight when we were little. My sister was always considered slightly "overweight" while growing up. Even though she was a perfectly normal little girl, my mother would tear her down emotionally for being "too big". It even got to the point where she would reduce our food intake to incredibly unhealthy proportions, in hopes that my sister wouldn't gain weight. Of course, this led to both of us having twisted views of food and weight; my sister feeling terrible about herself, and I being terrified of gaining even a pound.
I think it's absolutely terrible that a parent would push these negative views on their children. In the case of my mother, I think it's borderline child abuse. A parent should be concerned with only their child's health and well-being, not appearance.
Perhaps they are being prepared so as to better adjust to the inevitable famine?
I think from your context it may be parents concerned about their kids going away to college and gaining weight. It's fairly typical that first year college students gain weight from all the partying and junk food consumed. But for a father to make statements like the above is very shallow. Why not encourage his daughter to try and eat healthy and exercise, etc. even though he understands campus lifestyle.
I've always been more on the slender side, so sometimes I don't quite understand someone allowing themselves to get to the point where they're obese (if it's simply from overeating/drinking and not a medical issue). But I'm also very active and my metabolism requires that I eat between meals. I don't eat a lot of red meats and don't drink soda.
I feel really sorry for people who have self- confidence issues because of their weight. My boss recently was awarded with the Best New Small Business for this region by the area's woman business owners organization. While she was thrilled and honored to receive the award, she wouldn't attend the recognition luncheon because of her weight (and she's not that overweight), and she knew she would have to speak. I tried to talk her into going but it didn't work. I felt bad for her missing such an opportunity.
What annoys me is that people claim that they want you to be skinny for your health, but they don't say anything like to the too skinny person, and that's just as unhealthy as being overweight. This is possibly an exception for anyone who looks anorexic, but my younger girl has always been underweight (she's off the scale), and she doesn't get the lectures that my older girl gets (and she's only about five pounds overweight) at the doctors office. The last time a doctor said anything to me was when she was three and they told me to keep her on whole milk because her brain needs the fat (she has no body fat).
Let's be honest, the real reason people object to obesity doesn't have anything to do with the obese person's health, and is in fact, an objection to someone not being 'attractive' in the popular way of this time.
I disagree, a few years ago I lost 90 pounds in just less than a year due to illness. No one knew I was sick because I never spoke about it but because I was losing weight so quickly people were constantly asking me if I was okay. I will definitely admit without hesitation that I absolutely prefer being a size 4 over being a size 16.
I think that parents should guide their children in an appropriate manner when it comes to eating right and being physically healthy. Unfortunately there is a stigma associated with being overweight and everyone who is overweight has felt it. Especially kids. Children can be nasty to one another. Do you think that a 10-year-old has the emotional capacity to deal with that kind of abuse? I would personally prefer to arm my children with proper diet and exercise than have them be depressed, have less confidence and poor self esteem.
We have set guidelines in our house (3 kids) that they are not allowed to eat anything without asking. It's true. They have to come and ask first. I do buy pop tarts and cookies but I'm absolutely going to regulate the amount of sugar that goes into their bodies.
The reality is, personality is everything. I've met people who were physically beautiful...and then they opened their mouth and spoke....and it was all ruined. People become more or less attractive as you get to know them. If you strive to be beautiful on the inside, that is what really matters. Everything else will fall into place.
I don't agree with the school of thought that says that parents should protect kids by teaching them to conform. My own mother had this philosophy, and though she had the best of intentions, it resulted in me being so concerned with my weight and with not sticking out that I quite literally nearly died.
Children learn from observing. Lead by example and help your kids learn to make good choices for themselves. Of course, if your child starts eating only sugar all the time, it's appropriate to intervene. But I think making your kid ask for permission to eat an apple or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a little extreme.
Everybody has their own ideal weight. Even two people of the same gender and the same height may have different ideal weights because the aspects of their frames are different or maybe one's an athlete and the other is not, and so on. As for women and their hysterics about weight I do think it is unhealthy. Yes, shallow men do very much fuel the fire, but the women who get harassed by men who tell them they're fat usually do not bother to screen these men right out of their consciousness. Instead they will often adhere to what they perceive as a standard all men have, which is in my opin especially unhealthy. And I agree with the statement about loving one's self. If you love yourself you wont be susceptible to such taunts.
You're completely right. We all need to take a certain amount of responsibility. Sure, there are things in society and media we can't directly control. But we can choose not to perpetuate those negative values and standards, within ourselves and with those around us.
I understand where you are coming from - if I don't want my kids to eat junk food then I shouldn't buy it. My point of view is that I don't want to deny them those indulgences. We eat very clean meals but if they want ice cream then I'm going to make sure I know how much ice cream they are having because they don't need to eat an entire pint in one sitting. When they want an apple, I still want to know because if I'm planning to make supper in 15 minutes then no, they aren't having an apple because we are going to sit down and eat together as a family.
What I'm suggesting (I believe) is not at the same end of the spectrum that you were at with your mom. I don't perpetuate dieting or weight loss and we don't talk about body image but I do like to know what they are eating and I feel that if I gave them free reign over the kitchen they would eat more than they should - and it probably wouldn't be apples.
I grew up in a household where you had to eat "everything on your plate" and that's primeval to me. I want my kids to stop eating when they're full. I don't stand over them and count their calories so if it sounded that way, I misrepresented myself.
I think the key to healthy eating isn't necessarily to eat healthy all the time, but eating healthy most the time and learning to have snacks in moderation. And, honestly, studies have shown that children of families who eat together are more likely to have all sorts of good, healthy habits - healthy eating being one of them. I do daycare, and it never ceases to amaze me when I get kids who's families, quite literally, don't eat vegetables. And most times the kids are overweight. What a shock!
I understand what you mean now. Yes, I agree that the old model is definitely outdated, and kids do need guidance, especially when many of the children around them may not be as lucky to be supported in healthy eating habits.
I actually have an article I wrote about childhood obesity, and the other issue is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS doesn't stimulate the 'full feeling' when people eat it, so they eat more. Of course, this is why companies do that - if you eat more than you buy more. The issue is, of course, that HFCS is a sugar, and a very very refined sugar so unless the child is REALLY active, it becomes fat. And HFCS is in almost every pre-made food there is, including whole wheat bread.
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