Tag Archives: body hatred

5-year-olds on a Diet

Sometimes people ask me why I do this.  I work in Hollywood.  Writing a blog doesn’t really pay all that well.  And it can be a solitary process at times without a lot of feedback.

But sometimes I come across something that reminds me why.  Like this study which talks about “dietary restraint” (the cognitive restriction of food intake for the purpose of controlling weight) among 5-year-old girls. Five. Years. Old.

At five kids should be coloring and tormenting their older siblings and screaming and playing and dressing up.  They should not be worrying about the size of their thighs.  They should not be counting carbs.  They should not be worrying about fitting into their skinny jeans.

But according to the study, nearly 35 percent of the 5-yr-old girls were displaying “dietary restraint”.  The study points out not only is dieting at age 5 distressing, it is also an important precursor or marker for eating disorders in the future.  And that future might not be very far away for a number of these girls.  The study states:

Despite eating disorders typically emerging during adolescence, cases have been reported in early elementary school children.

The study reviewed the influences that caused these girls to restrict their food intake.  While most of the girls were pretty happy with their body at the moment, over 50 percent showed some evidence that they had taken the “thin ideal” to heart.  And the girls who had clearly taken the thin ideal to heart, that had experienced more media that represented the thin ideal and had more discussions about appearance with their peers, were the girls more likely to be restricting their food intake.

Which leads me to ask some questions.  If we know that BMI report cards are ineffective, and we know that kids are learning behaviors that lead to eating disorders as early as age 5, why don’t we work harder to include body image education into the curriculum–the earlier the better?  Anorexia is deadly and notoriously difficult to treat.  Why don’t we put some real, sensible, research-based curriculum in place at the earliest possible age to help these kids not develop this problem?  And since adults who hate their bodies are fairly likely to project these feelings onto impressionable children, why don’t we require training for teachers and strongly encourage training for all adults who deal with kids?

We have an opportunity to make a world where girls don’t grow up hating their bodies and hating themselves.  That’s why I write this blog.  That’s what I do what I do.  I add my tiny voice to the growing chorus singing the song stating that we are beautiful, we are worthy of love, we are okay just the way we are.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear me talk about body positive at your school?  Click HERE.

Advertisements

Body Hatred–We have an “App” for That!

iphoneappsadArrrrrrrgh!  A good friend recently shared this link with me.  (Warning–following link leads to stupid picture and ridiculous article.  Please check your sanity points level before you engage.)  It’s an article about an upcoming Anti-obesity app that will show people how they will look in the future if “their diet and exercise habits don’t change”.  Developed by the same folks who created an anti-smoking app that shows people what they will look like if they continued to smoke, the idea is that people become so horrified at their future, fatter selves that they will magically stick to restrictive diets and vigorous exercise programs and will stay svelte and beautiful for-EVAH.

Except maybe not.

It’s instructive that the story suggests that people using the app will be able to enter queries asking “what I will look like in four weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks, 26 weeks or a year.”  Because one year is about the point at which many weight loss attempts start to go south and regain becomes common.  It’s interesting that the article does not suggest you will be able to ask what you will look like in five years.  Perhaps that’s because by that point, you have a 90-95 percent chance of looking the same or even larger than when you started.

Also, it’s been widely reported that bodies metabolize food and exercise very differently.  I’m wondering how this “app” will account for that.  We all know there are some people who eat a lot of junk food and spend a lot of time watching TV but never gain weight.  We also know some people eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and exercise quite a lot but don’t lose a lot of weight.  So how will this app account for those differences?  My guess–it won’t.  It will be based on some ridiculously over-simplified, generic, set of statistics that are custom-built to have the biggest impact on your “avatar” that has little or possibly even NO basis in reality.

beforeafterThere are many things about this upcoming app that make me angry and a little crazy.  But maybe one of the things that makes me most upset is the notion that this app, built by researchers at a freaking UNIVERSITY are working with the notion that shame will help make people thin.  Just how many research studies do we need exactly to prove that shame doesn’t make people, especially young people thin?  Seriously?!  And does the app have a convenient “Thinspo” feature that allows people with eating disorders utilize these visualization features?

Come on colleges and universities!  I mean, totally fabulous “Love Your Body Week” programs aside, you’ve got a way to go here.  It’s not just Professor Terrible that’s the problem.  It’s the fact that you approve and even allocate funding for projects like this stupid app.  It’s the fact that fat people are less likely to be admitted to your universities than thin people.  Maybe it’s time to stop focusing so much on people with big fat wallets and start focusing on being fair to people who are simply fat.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Body Intelligence or Body War?

golda_biggest_loser

This week, I’ve come across two very different approaches to young bodies in the media.  One is the announcement (and subsequent activism response by the amazing Golda Poretsky) that the television show “The Biggest Loser” will now include teenagers and the other is a new study about the effectiveness of “intuitive eating” among young adults.

It’s hard to imagine a stronger dichotomy than these two approaches.  On the one hand, we have “The Biggest Loser” which teaches us that our body is the enemy.  No punishment is too harsh.  No humiliation is too great.  We must deprive ourselves of delicious foods.  We must exercise until we vomit or pass out.  We must make our bodies thin at all costs.

The study outlines a different approach (at least to eating) by documenting the outcomes of young adults who practice intuitive eating.  The study defines intuitive eating by the young people “trusting their bodies to tell them what to eat” and “stopping eating once they felt full”.  Based on the Biggest Loser story, one would imagine that those who trust their bodies and allow hunger to guide their eating would be larger than those who focus on controlling body weight.  However, the study seems to indicate the opposite.  Those who trusted their bodies not only had fewer signs of disordered eating, but also had a lower average BMI.

Now, it’s important to remember that this is only one study.  But we’ve yet to unearth a single study that indicates that deprivation and self hatred is an effective way to maintain a lower body weight or BMI over the long term (more than 5 years).  So what should we be teaching our kids, to love their bodies or make war on them?

While it seems obvious to me that teaching kids to trust the innate intelligence of their bodies is the better choice, I think it’s important to recognize this is not the easier choice.  I think peer pressure plays an enormous role both for children and their parents.  I think many of us have faced discrimination and outright cruelty from others because of the size of our bodies.  We don’t wish that pain on our worst enemies.  So it’s not surprising that we don’t want it for our children.  And the prevailing wisdom of the women at the beauty shop, Aunt Thelma and even our pediatricians often involves hushed side conversations about what the parent is going to “do” about a child’s weight.  It seems clear to me that peer pressure bends us towards putting our kids on diets, obsessing over their BMIs, forcing them to exercise, sending them to fat camps and yes, even allowing them to be on “The Biggest Loser”, even though there is so, SO much evidence out there showing that this approach doesn’t work.  But at some point, we have to ask ourselves, “Is peer pressure a smart way to decide what’s best for kids?  Is bowing to peer pressure in this case going to make our kids happier or healthier in the long run?”  I think we need to ask the proverbial question, “If our friends tell us to run off a cliff, will we do it?”  Or will we put peer pressure aside, assure the ladies at the beauty shop and Aunt Thelma and even our pediatrician that we are doing what science indicates is best for our kids, and teach them that their bodies are wondrous and intelligent and trustworthy?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Love,

The Fat Chick