Monday, June 21, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Teagan asking a question that I wasn't prepared for her to ask. Does this make me look fat? You all gave me some great advice and I always appreciate the response from the readers of this blog when I hit a parenting hurdle. The story continues... All of the teachers at Teagan's preschool read the blog (Hi, LEP staff!!). This is a great thing because they know what's going on with our family and with Teagan outside of school. And that left one teacher very prepared to handle a situation very gracefully and with all the right answers. Teagan approached one of her teachers and asked "Why are you fat and I'm not?" The teacher responded by saying that she didn't think she was fat and that she makes healthy food choices and exercises and is very healthy and that's what matters. I learned about this on Friday morning. The end of a week where Teagan spent many days at school refusing to eat even a bite of her lunch. To be fair, there was a lot on the menu this week that she doesn't like- mac and cheese, broccoli, beefaroni, etc. I'm going to start reviewing the menus with her and we will pick days that I'll pack a lunch for her. I don't think the food refusal is linked to the fat comments- but the behavior and the words still put a bit of fear in my heart. Thankfully, I'm married to a genious. He figured out where the fat thing was coming from. Alvin and the Chipmunks. Stop laughing- I'm actually serious!! Our kids love the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. When Teagan was home sick, she asked to watch The Squeekquel over and over and over. Here's where Jeff's "ah ha" came in... the weight of the 2 youngest chipmunks (male and female) is brought up several times. Theodore gets teased by school bullies and later asks Simon "Does this make my butt look fat?" The youngest member of the Chipettes, Eleanor, gets criticism from the manager for being fat and he makes her wear uncomfortable shoes to make her look taller and less fat. Now, all of the negative messages have positive messages right away (Simon responds by saying that Theodore's butt is fine) or eventually (Theodore tells Eleanor he likes her the way she is without the shoes). But we've all heard the bit of wisdom that says it takes 1000 positive strokes to cancel 1 negative stroke. The positive tie ups aren't noticable when you are 5 years old. The Chipmunks are now banned. And when we picked up the kids from Grandma's and started the drive home and they asked to watch the Chipmunks, I told Teagan we wouldn't be watching that movie for a while because I didn't like what the movie said about being fat. Then I went on to use her teacher's message- that it's about the healthy food choices you make and how active you are and that being fat or skinny doesn't mean you are healthy or making good choices. All of that got me to thinking about being fat and what that means. I think there is a tendency to treat fat as the problem, the disease, the condition. Fat is the symptom. A symptom of a medical problem. A symptom of eating junk. A symptom of eating too much. A symptom of not exercising. A symptom of not being active. Like with anything else, if you pay attention to the symptom and get to the root of the problem, you just might find the solution and eliminate the symptom. If you ignore the symptom... it gets worse. I know so many women who judge everything about themselves by the number on the scale or the size of their jeans. I know women who weigh in every day and that determines what they will or won't eat or drink- or if they eat at all. And when I'm hearing the negative messages about fat coming from a children's movie... I guess I can see why there is confusion. I can't protect my kids, my daughter, from the inundation that surrounds us when it comes to body image and fat and skinny and healthy. But I can try to correct what she is exposed to and limit that exposure. I can be a good role model when it comes to how she sees me eat and exercise and hears what I say about myself. I can be careful about the messages she hears from me about her appearance, her body. There isn't any one, right, exact way to raise kids that will guarantee that they love themselves, respect themselves, value themselves. But if banning the Chipmunks gives me even a little bit of a leg up on my job, I'm going to take the drastic measures required of me.