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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Body Image & the Young

Published July 5, 2011 5:25 PM by Lisa Brzezicki

A couple of weeks ago I turned on Good Morning America while getting ready for work and was struck by a report about Taylor, a 6-year-old girl in Houston who had come home from school and asked her mother why her tummy was so fat. "A girl in the bathroom at school asked me why I was fat," she told her mom. Then at a birthday party, a boy called Taylor "fat girl."

Shocked, Taylor's mother brought her concerns to her daughter's pediatrician who assured her that Taylor is a healthy, active 6-year-old and that her body mass index is normal for her age.

But Taylor told the GMA reporter that she felt she needed to lose weight. Not surprising after being told by peers she was fat. But research sheds more light on the subject. A 2009 University of Central Florida study found that nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old participants said they worried about being fat.

Additionally, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the number of eating disorder hospitilzations for kids under age 12 more than doubled between 2000 and 2006.

Doing their own research, ABC News gathered a panel of 5- to 8-year-old girls to get their opinion on the subject. The reporter showed them pictures of Taylor and then random photos of other girls their age. They all agreed Taylor didn't need to lose weight, but for some of the other girls whose photos they looked at, they had a different reaction. In fact, one panelist described one of the girls viewed as "really chubby wubby."

It truly saddens me to think girls so young, girls my niece's age, are so concerned about their weight. Growing up in today's society is tough enough as it is. And how does it impact their future? Clearly the NEDA statistics speak volumes.

So what's the solution? I'm a firm believer that children are a product of the environment they grow up in so learning how to make good food choices and understanding the benefits of leading an active, healthy lifestyle should start at home. But it needs to go beyond that and be reinforced in school as well.

1 comments

Sorry, but this doesn't surprise me one little bit. It DISGUSTS me, but it doesn't surprise me at all.

Time for a reality check!

I can tell you EXACTLY what is going on here: CHILDHOOD OBESITY IS SO OVER-EMPHASIZED THAT, LIKE WITH ADULTS, ONLY CACHEXIA IS VIEWED AS "NORMAL SIZED." Come ON, nurses, WAKE UP!!! All we talk about is how many fat people there are. If a celebrity has the tiniest bit of extra fat, tabloids trumpet how "fat" they are. In fact, SIZES 6, 4, EVEN 2 are considered OBESE in modeling & the acting professions. You have to be a freaking SIZE 1, 0, or better yet, 00 to get a job. Models & celebrities get hooked on cocaine & nobody adds 2+2 to get 4. Cocaine numbs hunger pangs, numbs the pain in the body that's often from arthritis due to calcium imbalances that result in bone resorption & redistribution as bone spurs, from malnutrition. Alcohol is the first drug of choice, of course-but that first blast of cocaine kills the appetite, which is what they have to do to stay that emaciated. They exercise (nearly constantly), eat "natural" food (miniscule amounts), have "colon cleansing" (bulimia, induction of diarrhea to prevent weight gain via laxatives & enemas). If we saw someone in Africa that thin, we'd be airlifting food to them! Males aren't immune. The new generation of actors has to look ripped-but the bones still poke through the muscles & you can still count every bony process on the spine (not to mention the ribs & hip bones).

What's that got to do with the obesity crisis? EVERYTHING. It's not a reachable standard for ANYONE unless they're "professional skinny people" - show business types & other celebrities. We've moved the designation "XL" on women's clothing. XL was a size 22 back in the 1960s (when some wag put "Twiggy," a bony teenager, on the runway as a joke & ever since, everyone's tried to look like a war refugee or someone who's lived through 10 years of drought). Now, I'm seeing the designation "XL" ON A SIZE 12!!! You see what I mean? If a size 12, considered NORMAL in the 60s (models had to be size 8 back then), is now considered XL, on a steady trend DOWN through women's sizes, well, face it. The ideal isn't attainable. We've made normal sized women into fat women. Plus size used to start at size 22, now the local plus sized store covers sometimes as low as size 10.

We are so obsessed with physical appearance that we no longer care about the appearance of someone's soul, personality, whatever. We put toddlers on diets so they can win beauty contests. First graders are injected with Botox to erase wrinkles! BOTOX ON A 6 YEAR OLD-HOW THE HECK CAN A FIRST GRADER HAVE WRINKLES??? We are NUTS in America.

Now, as long as you look like a skeleton, you get to tell everyone else how to live. You get to bully anyone you want to bully-bullying has gone up to where HALF of all kids are bullied in school, & everyone just watches. After all, targeted kids aren't "beautiful" kids, they're ordinary kids. Or fat. Short. Tall. Dress in hand-me-downs. Wear glasses, or hearing aids. Use crutches or braces. Are clumsy. Don't pick up one or more subjects easily. Have ADD/ADHD, autism/Asperger's, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. Teachers & parents stand by & do nothing to help. In the 60s & earlier, bullying a kid would get you in trouble with the adults if you were caught, so fewer were willing to do it. Now, we've added bullying anyone who's not a skeleton with a little skin stretched over it as "fat." And if the kid hits back, the VICTIM, not the bully, gets punished (of course, for me, it was well worth it to stop the attacks).

We need to normalize things. We need to go back to the way sizes were in the 50s & 60s, minus the amphetamine-based diet pills women swallowed with every meal so they could do all that volunteer work, have a perfect house/yard, etc. (and minus the valium & booze at night to sleep some). Keep the size range & be realistic about what REAL people look like.

Stop harping on obesity while you're at it. As counter-intuitive as it is, I'm fat & I know for a fact that the more I hear about obesity, the more attractive the food in that ad or that fast food joint I passed on the road, gets to me. You see, I'd be lucky to get within 4 sizes of that Extra Large 12. So, what's the point? You can never lose enough weight to satisfy doctors & nurses. You come in after a month with 22 lb off, having worked out daily for 2 hr at least, walked everywhere instead of riding, & instead of, "Good job! Keep up the good work!" here's what you hear: "Only 22 lb??? Is that ALL? As fat as YOU are, you should have lost at least 30 lb. You DO know you have to EXERCISE??? Something besides the remote control finger? You're a fat, lazy SLOB! You disgust me. Don't lie & tell me you exercise. If you had, you'd have lost 30 lb AT LEAST. Get off your fat, lazy butt & MOVE AROUND. If you're tempted to overeat, take off your clothes & look at yourself in a full length mirror. When you see how ugly you are, you won't eat for days!" Then they list every disease in the Merck Manual & tell you how you're going to get every one of them if you don't "wise up" & "quit cheating" & "start, for once, moving your fat butt." Every fat person is a liar & a cheat to doctors & nurses - even the fat ones. When we send them to dietitians, they're told to lose no more than 2, max 3 lb a week. To exercise 30 min. a day & build up gradually. To expect "plateaus" in weight loss, times when they don't lose or even (esp. for women), gain 1-3 lb., as the body adjusts to the lower size. But apparently, no one has told the doctors & nurses that, or we & they believe it's a load of crap & that anyone who cuts their food intake & exercises daily will see the weight fall off quickly.

Oh, every doctor & nurse CLAIMS they encourage people. Few actually do. The liars aren't the patients. The liars are the doctors & nurses, way too often.

The way nurses treat anyone even 5 lb overweight makes me ASHAMED OF MY PROFESSION.

No wonder we fat people finally give up. I personally am not looking for a ticker tape parade, a whole round of congratulations, balloon bouquets, etc. I just want someone to NOT expect huge weight losses every time or to call me a liar & a cheat, lazy, even stupid. If I'm losing weight steadily, that should be enough. If I hit a plateau, or make a backwards step & gain a couple pounds, don't attack me like you think I'm an axe murderer who should be put on death row. Wait & see if it continues, or if the downward trend resumes within a month.

Until we stop harping on "the obesity epidemic" & find something besides bullying & rerouting someone's intestines surgically to address the problem, people are just going to get fatter, the few thin people left will still control people by bullying (esp. MDs & RNs), & 6 year olds will worry about being fat & wrinkly when they should be playing-with ANYTHING BUT BARBIE DOLLS, which just perpetuate the uber-thin stereotype.

Right now, we've infected normal size kids in preschool with worries about the round belly that's a normal physique for that age. If you don't look like a refugee from a famine, you're not acceptable.

Amy July 5, 2011 8:18 PM

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