Last week, in a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Girls and Dieting, Then and Now,” Jeffrey Zazlow discusses the pressures on fourth grade girls to be thin. Though his dialogue actually began in 1986 after studies in Chicago and LA were carried out, weight-focused pressures on young girls are even stronger today than in the earlier decade. Sadly, he mentions that a preoccupation with body image can show up in children as young as age five. The country’s ever-growing percentage of obese children is not helping matters, either. Increased awareness of this medical condition appears to leave children even more obsessed with their weight.
As I mention in the early pages of my book, I, too, was obsessed with being thin at a young age. In high school, my friends and I spent hours examining our butts and guts, wishing for a flat belly when we viewed our profile in the mirror. Though I wasn’t the slightest bit overweight, I still found it necessary to try all-fruit and all-liquid diets. When I did gain weight in college, 25 pounds to be exact, it wasn’t a fad diet that helped me drop the weight. It was moderation and other healthy habits that did the trick.
In today’s culture, being skinny is highly regarded and body images re formulated by photo-shopped body parts on magazine covers. As such, the line between obesity and eating disorders will likely grow thinner and thinner.
At some point, the emphasis on being thin should take a backseat to other personal values which instill self-esteem and self-worth in children, and adults, too, for that matter. The name of the game is feeling good, and feeling good about yourself. Managing weight is an outcome of taking good care of your body and respecting your own well-being.