So the other day, Sissy said something to me about needing Skecher Shape Ups. I was thinking she was talking about the ones for adults, and I told her that they don’t make them in her size and also that she didn’t need to worry about such things as she is very active, tiny, and cannot keep her pants up to save her life. So today when I was reading headlines on Yahoo News, I was appalled to discover that Skechers does in fact make Shape Ups for little girls.
My daughter said she needed these because she doesn’t want to get fat. My daughter is almost five and is not overweight. She is extremely active, eats healthy, and really should not be worrying about such things. Yes, I do understand that childhood obesity is a growing problem. However, there are so many things I think are wrong about this.
First of all, I want to raise a confident girl who will grow into a confident young woman. I want her to be healthy, and if there was ever a concern about her weight, I would address this in a way that would help her stay at a healthy weight without giving her a complex. I had an eating disorder when I was younger. I would not want my daughter to ever feel how I felt. There are times when I look at some of my pictures from college and want to shake some sense into my former self. I do not want that for my daughter. I do not want that for any girl.
Second of all, I think this only further contributes to a double standard we seem to have involving overweight girls/women vs. overweight boys/men. It seems like it has always been there and always will be there. When I was in high school, it was perfectly acceptable for the boys be overweight and still popular. However, it was not the same for the girls. In Hollywood, unless you are watching something like Glee, you hardly ever see the chubby girl get the hot guy. And yet in films, actors like pre-weight loss Seth Rogen, for example, was able to get the hot girl in movies. (And I have nothing against him by the way.) Which leads me to my next point.
It always seems more acceptable for the guy to be overweight. Sure the paparazzi was overjoyed when Seth Rogen dropped some poundage, but do you ever remember reading anything about anyone saying anything about his weight beforehand? Probably not. However, we are constantly overloaded with articles about how this actress seems to have gained weight and how this one needs to lose weight. This double standard is not right, and it sends a dangerous message to our young girls (and our adult ladies as well).
I think this country has an unhealthy obsession with obesity. Yes it is a problem, but no one seems to be able to confront it in a healthy way. If we keep on this course, I can only see this problem getting worse, and here it why. Children are vulnerable. We need to teach them healthy habits and that healthy foods are not only good for you but also taste good. To take the approach of “You’re fat. Don’t eat that because you will get fat,” we are just tearing them down and paving the way for them to use food as a weapon of destruction. These children will be the same teenagers that use food as a way to comfort them because they were brought up with an unhealthy view of food at an early age. We need to provide our children with the tools to become healthy adults, but we need to do it in a way that is positive instead of negative.
This has been such a hard thing for me to write because of my struggles with eating disorders and unrealistic goals. Obviously, so many of us in this country are not as healthy as we should be. However, I feel when we are constantly being torn apart and obsessed with this issue in such a way that is not healthy, we will not be able to fix this problem. We need to arm ourselves with the tools to healthy eating and healthy living, share them with our children, and do it in a way that builds confidence and good character. What we don’t need is products that shatter our little girls self-confidence at such an early age. That is all I have to say.