January 8, 2012
In the eating disorders world, more than anywhere else, we know that this is not only medically wrong it is dangerously wrong. Genetics and health history determine body composition, not choice, and we are neither meant to nor can we sustainably game the process. Aesthetics, media standards, charts on the wall: none of these are in charge of what an individual's biological destiny considers healthiest and most sustainable. Holding one's body at a level lower (or higher) than it uniquely needs to be is as unnatural as holding one's breath.
Nowhere is this idea of weight as a moral, health, and appearance choice more dangerous than when we apply it to children. Developing bodies need regular, varied, wholesome nourishment as well as physical activity, sleep, emotional regulation, and a loving safe environment. Children also need adults and medical professionals to help children appreciate and nurture their unique bodies and genetic destinies.
All of these are adult responsibilities.
All of these are failed, unconscionably and cruelly, by the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta "Stop Sugarcoating" obesity campaign.
Shaming children's bodies for their size is little different than shaming children for their their height, color, their shoe size - or their health conditions. This campaign is an assault on children, not a protection.
Even if you believe that children's weight is an appropriate health target (I don't, I believe healthy behaviors are), do you really believe shame works? Do you believe it is lack of shame that is guiding behaviors? Well, I think you are wrong. I think this campaign and the current obesity hysteria that makes it possible is causing untold harm - and no clarity or healthcare improvement.
This hysteria serves nothing but the diet industry and the self-congratulary and self-flagellating weight prejudice so endemic to current society.
Please join me and a growing army of people fighting back against this campaign.