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Loving Yourself: Helpful or Harmful?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How would you feel if you were required to weigh yourself in front of others? What if your job hinged on how much you weighed? What if your salary was based on a number on the scale? How do you feel about the possibility of the airlines charging the amount you will pay for a ticket based on your weight? Are they going to start requiring us to step on the scale after they weigh our suitcase? Where does it all end? Sound Orwellian? Don’t be so sure. . .

I know the government thinks it’s acting in the best interest of protecting us from ourselves. Just how far are they pushing us until we have no self respect left at all? Is this all in the name of curbing the “obesity epidemic”? In my humble opinion, it is not.

Do you know that our children are still being weighed in schools? I don’t know about you, but I remember being weighed once a year in school. That day, and the vaccination day, were the days I dreaded the most. The problem was you didn’t know it until after the morning Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes, you didn’t know until it was time to march down to the nurse’s office as a class. They weren’t measuring BMI like they are now, but it was possible to get an idea of your classmates’ body weight. I know how ashamed I felt. Remembering that - can you imagine what this is doing to our children and grandchildren?

“BMI is not only a problematic and perhaps spurious way to measure health (just check out this recent NYT article about a study which suggests that there is in fact a LOWER risk of death for the overweight), but how the ‘obesity epidemic’ in general has been framed as a ‘moral panic’ – a threat to the very social order. My talk focused on the cultural contexts of such perceived threats: the fact that ‘fat panic’ also reinforces hierarchies of class, race, and sex, and how such threats are used to shame and blame individuals and hold some bodies up as ‘normative’ and others as ‘deviant’, rather than holding systems accountable (like the U.S. food industry for their use of GMOs or the market glut of processed foodstuffs).

And there was my friend, telling me how her child’s public school had not only bought into this mentality, but was using it as a measuring stick to evaluate children – sending home ‘friendly’ notes to families whose children’s numbers weren’t ‘right’ with advice like ‘curb down on those sodas!’ (Never mind if your family didn’t even buy soft drinks!) Even worse, because these measurements were done in school, elementary school children themselves were comparing themselves to one another – whispering about a girl who was 103 pounds, regardless of her height, and learning, oh, so young, to use numbers like weight and BMI as proxies not for health, but for self-worth, popularity, beauty, and desirability.”**

I personally know of adults who are considered overweight, and have low blood pressure and low cholesterol, and on the flip side, others who are thin and have high cholesterol, and other problems. I’m sure the same goes for children. Even though I was what some would call “pudgy” there was no junk food in my house. It was a real treat to have a GLASS of Pepsi once in awhile, usually if we had company, and I couldn’t ask – it had to be offered by my parents. If it was with some popcorn, I had hit the mother lode! Parents and children all split a couple of bottles! Not only that, but I was outside after school every day playing baseball, hide and seek, riding bikes, or something else fun, and still not “skinny”. Every day in the summer, we would ride our bikes 3.5 miles to a spring fed pond to swim. We’d swim all afternoon, and then get back on our bikes for the return 3.5 mile trek back home just in time for dinner! Can you imagine how many calories I burned, and speculate that I didn’t have enough muscle?

Approximately 260 of you agreed with my blog, and signed on to The Body Pledge of Allegiance. We’re all on Spark TODAY still struggling with our own body issues and learning to love ourselves because we have gone, and continue to go through this same stuff. We need to become aware that regardless of what we tell our children and teach our children, they are being stealthily undermined by other areas of our society; the media, the government, in school, by their peers. And we’re still wondering how our girls can still have this negative image about their bodies in spite of what we tell them? Yes, we need to be on the lookout for these covert interventions that undermine our best efforts to change this insidious undercurrent of self hatred disguised in the name of health.

Here are some examples. . .

How does the amount of PE your children or grandchildren get today compared to what you got when you were in school? PE is one of the first programs to get slashed in a budget crunch. Yes, we control the home environment, but what about the rest of their day? How is it we cannot hold our schools and government responsible?

Wouldn't it be better for our children to see something like this:

The bottom line is that the ‘obesity epidemic’ is worth billions to the pharmaceutical, diet, weight loss, media, and government agencies fueling it. The good news is that we don’t have to buy into it anymore, and we can fight back.

Thanks for stopping by!

** You can read the rest of the article here:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great blog Sharon. How can our schools expect our children to maintain a healthy weight when they feed them all that processed food and don't have any exercise classes emoticon emoticon
    1850 days ago
    Is it any wonder that women struggle with their weight? All the dissing of women who don't meet a pre-set "ideal" starts when they are children and can't tell the difference between reality and imaginary. So when they are exposed to totally imaginary messages, they can't tell if it's real or imagined. Why do we have to be so hard on ourselves? There is no perfection. You are loved no matter what. Would you say such damning things to a good friend? Then watch what you are telling yourself.
    You can't tell reality from imagination. You become what you think.
    1851 days ago
    I so remember the day in elementary school where we were weighed and I was the heaviest. And that was over 40 years ago and I am still mortified.
    1854 days ago
    We do have to love ourselves...where we are now. It's the only body we have in the present. We all have to start where we are...and that includes children. It won't work to shame them...they already have a lot of unhappiness as a result of extra weight they carry without anyone making that happen. I was an overweight child...I know. So, we learn to be happy where we are...and that happiness and self-love can move us on to where we want to be. Hope you are having a great Memorial Day weekend! Keep up the good work! Thanks for the encouragement! Spark on! emoticon emoticon
    1855 days ago
    Great blog.
    1856 days ago
    For 25 years, my job DID hinge on how much I weighed (3 years in ROTC followed by 22 years active duty military). It was the one thing that kept me from being terribly overweight during my younger years. After the military, though, without the regulations and the mandatory weigh-ins), I stopped the struggle and ballooned. I had to learn how to control myself from inside instead of relying on external (de)motivators. And even at my heaviest, my cholesterol was normal (though creeping up), and my personal "normal" blood pressure of 100/60 changed little.

    On the subject of teaching children to love themselves the way they are, I vote YES! Negative comments I got as a teenager, when my weight was within the normal range but toward the top of normal, still sting today.

    Hope everyone "likes" this blog. It needs to be a Popular Blog.
    1856 days ago
  • GEORGE815
    Its coming. Limiting the size of soda drinks, etc.
    1857 days ago
    I remember crying inside for hours on those days. Couldn't cry outside and let them see you weak. It was like waving a red flag at a bull.

    I am a teacher and I still hate those days. I know how much it hurts kids.
    1858 days ago
    I remember being made to take a "special class" with a few other kids in school that were not "normal" weight so that we would lose weight.

    It did not make me lose weight,but it made me feel ashamed and different and thought me to hate my body.
    I look at pictures of myself at that time,and I was not obese, but I was not skinny either.
    But back then, almost everybody was skinny, so I guess we "fat" kids stood out more.
    Ahh! Sad times. emoticon
    1858 days ago
    Absolutely fantastic Sharon!!!!! Absolutely true!!!! I love the pictures of the children standing for loving their bodies!!!!! I do blame pharmaceutical companies and food companies and GMO's. We didn't even know about a lot of these things until recent years. All of these "big" companies feed us false information so that they could "peddle their wares" on us and so many people don't know about them! I know if I didn't research, read and seek out health information, I would be one of those many people!

    Thank you so much for blogging this and bringing it further into the forefront where is should have always been!

    emoticon emoticon

    (I don't believe in the generic way BMI's are formulated. Sometimes I believe their are other circumstances that should be taken into consideration - like muscle mass.)
    1858 days ago
    Not only do I remember weighing in 5th grade, the teacher used the numbers to have us learn to 'graph'....can you imagine how I felt, way out there on the end, up high? Argh. Wonderful blog, very thoughtful.
    1858 days ago
    excellent blog & article. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    1858 days ago
    OMG, did this bring back memories! I remember in school telling the nurse to please not yell out my weight as we all stood in line. And the sad thing is, looking back, I was actually only a few lbs overweight at the time I started worrying about my weight, at 14 or so. But because of my height, I weighed a lot more than the other girls, so I felt like I had to diet. My dad also wanted me to lose weight....I could go on and on. I think that worrying about it actually made it even worse. And now things are even worse, like some of the examples you gave of the things that society is trying to do. How will kids now learn to love their bodies regardless of their weight?
    1858 days ago
    Oh I remember the weigh in days at school. They brought the scale to class and then told the number in front of everyone. Also they wrote it on your report card. What painful way to spend early childhood. The school thought I should go to the dr. about my weight and put me on the Stillmen diet... 8 glasses of water a day. This was when all we had was water fountains and spent more then two hours a day on a bus.
    1858 days ago
  • ROSES17
    Glad to know someone else is on my side. My niece and nephew are always complaining because they were told that their weight was not right for their age or their height was not appropriate for their age. As far as I am concerned, I think the schools and the government have gone to far with this thing. I had a hard time explaining to them that they were fine just the way they are.
    1858 days ago
    I completely agree with this blog and thank you for putting it out there. The images that this generation have to endure that make them feel like they may be less than someone else just because of their size is terrible. I think that if the schools want to get involved they need to focus more on what they are feeding the kids on a daily basis and of course make sure that they continue their PE. They can't blame just the parents if they are serving pizza, macaroni, and spaghetti or cancelling PE because of the costs. If we all work together we can work on how we feel about ourselves and show others that their size doesn't define who they are or even how healthy they are.

    1859 days ago
    Good blog Sharon.
    I find myself conflicted on the topic. I remember well in high school my feelings of inadequacy etc. I don't know if any of the posters would have made a difference. Either side of the topic. I had to go through what I had to go through. As a youngster or especially as a teenager I never would have listened to anyone. I was only happy in my misery.
    I have to admit that I am heartened when I see young people being mindful of their eating or exercising. It makes me wonder what their parents are doing or did to influence them.
    My mother was thin and always preached and I do mean preached moderation in everything and exercise. She practiced these things religiously but could not get it through our heads or hearts that these were the things that are right for us. Maybe it was how she came across. Don't know! But I can say today she knew what she was talking about.
    1859 days ago
    This is a hot button to me. I remember the humiliation of being measured and weighed (height was the measurement). HATED it BECAUSE the results were announced OUT LOUD!! Ok, IF the parent gives permission, I can perhaps see that it could be valuable to do this annually BUT the results should NOT be announced out loud. That being said, I fee it's even better if these things are done by the child's pediatrician! That is where proper nutrition guidance can be given.

    Don't even get me started on the P.E. situation in our school. It stinks!!! There is so ever-lovin' much pressure to learn, learn, learn, there is not time to devote even 10 minutes to physical activity . . . which will INCREASE the student's ability to learn, retain and do what's expected.

    Add to that the fact that the child's choice of entertainment? TV, DVD, social networking. I have even seen kids sitting right next to each other TEXTING each other rather than talking face-to-face. And we wonder why things go wrong?????

    I am glad that I have been a role model for my DD about the importance of proper exercise and nutrition. I am BERY VERY glad that we've had honest and rank discussions about body image as well. You CAN be healthy, yet over your ideal body weight. So, accepting your body where it is @ that very important is crucial! Does that mean you should limit yourself, and if the need is there, to change lifestyle habits to be healthier?? NO Ma'am. Absolutely not. But it should not be a point of cajoling, harassing, embarassing.

    Ok, dismounting from my soap box and going for a long walk!

    1859 days ago
    Great blog Sharon. Thank you for sharing. emoticon
    1859 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1859 days ago
    Wonderful blog. I found out during my annual check-up yesterday that the insurance companies will begin next year blatantly basing premiums on weight. It's scary. Weight charts for women are based on info from the 50. No consideration of muscle mass, just weight. Under this program, some of our fit military personnel would be considered overweight due to their large amount of muscle.
    1859 days ago
    emoticon blog. We need to love ourselves in order to teach our children to do the same, so many adults are at the "I don't care stage" or are living in ignorance. We need to lead by example.
    1859 days ago
  • SAMI199
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    Teaching our kids to love themselves is so important. Great blog.


    1859 days ago
  • 123ELAINE456
    Awesome Blog. Thanks for posting it. God Blessings to You and Everyone. Have a Super Great Day. Take Care. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1859 days ago
    Thank you. I work as a Teacher Aide and we just
    encourage our kids to come to school early on Fridays
    and they have wonderful PT teachers who run a program
    "BBC" which teaches them to have fun while at the same
    time helping brain power. Then the local fruit market
    supplies fruit and the supermarket provides the cereal,
    milk and toast for them to have a healthy breakfast.

    We have also started an initiative to have kids be dropped
    off a few blocks before and encouraging them to walk
    the rest of the way.(Usually with another adult when
    possible for safety reasons). If we show kids what to do,
    I think they will follow . Weighing them and making such
    a bid deal of BMI is very demoralising and kids take it to
    heart. We need to make children feel confident about them-
    selves and everybody for that matter, as we are all children
    at heart no matter what age we are.

    There is no one mold to fit all. A relative of mine is tall, in her
    mid-seventies, has been called morbidly obese, yet she is the
    healthiest person I know. No diabetes, no blood pressure,
    no heart problems and eats healthily the way she eaten all
    her life. I hope I can say that in 10 years. I am working on it!
    1859 days ago
    Bravo!!!!!!! emoticon


    Thank you SO much for writing this.

    1859 days ago
    1859 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    1859 days ago
    1859 days ago
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