Lately, First Lady Michelle Obama has been giving lots of interviews in regards to launching her new initiative to address childhood obesity. Needless to say, as a growing fitness lover and parent, this makes me so giddy I could squeal. The plans and changes that could come from focusing on our children… the possibilities are endless.
Taken from Yahoo! News:
“In my eyes, I thought my children were perfect,” the first lady said. “I didn’t see the changes.”
But the family’s pediatrician, she said, kept a close eye on trends in African-American children and “warned that he was concerned that something was getting off-balance.” The doctor “cautioned me that I had to take a look at my own children’s BMI,” or body mass index, the first lady said.
I’m not surprised because honestly, this kind of uproar is why our children are in such dire straits as it is. Did you know that one in three children develop type 2 diabetes; that one out of every two Black children in America develop type 2 diabetes? That, although being overweight doesn’t cause these directly, it absolutely serves as a symptom that goes hand in hand as the result of a larger problem?
So… in knowing this, the blogosphere has still decided that it doesn’t make sense that the pediatrician might say to the First Lady, “Perhaps you should keep an eye out for your daughter… we don’t know if this has to do with a genetic predisposition, a distribution of the population being predisposed to foods that cause these issues (i.e. too many Blacks living in environments that encourage unhealthy eating), or whatever… but just be careful and keep an eye on that number.” Now, you can imagine my surprise.
I am understanding why my former doctor was so apprehensive about discussing my weight with me. Now, I am understanding how the conversation about health, weight, and where the two actually merge is able to be derailed so easily. Now, I see what the problem is. Are we that easily offended by conversations about weight that we think this kind of chat must remain private? Do we hold so fast to proving to everyone that we are the Joneses (as opposed to keeping up with them) that anyone showing that their armor has a chink in it gets the side eye?
Apparently, First Lady Obama (since bloggers tend to forget that the Obamas have titles) did just that.
A fundamental lack of understanding of what was said, it seems, is what’s causing the uproar. Couple that with an article claiming she put her girls on a diet, and you’ve got the ingredients for a very spicy topic. Although the link from the Daily Mail (a verrrrrry reputable source… that’s sarcasm, by the way) is titled “Reform begins at home: Michelle Obama puts daughters on a diet as she launches anti-obesity campaign,” the only information you will find within includes the following:
Michelle Obama started a campaign to tackle childhood obesity in the U.S. on a personal vein – with an admission that her own daughters were becoming overweight before a diet nipped the problem in the bud.
The First Lady said that she had been warned by the family paediatrician that ‘something was getting out of balance’ with her two children Malia 11, and Sasha, 8.
‘In my eyes I thought my children were perfect – I didn’t see the changes,’ Mrs Obama said at an event organised by US health officials.The girls then had to adhere to new ground rules – less burgers, low-fat milk, and fruits and water instead of sugary drinks; the change was significant, she said.
Doesn’t sound like a diet to me. Sounds like a lifestyle change. Too bad neither the HuffPo writer nor the StrollerDerby writer tended to that. Imagine how surprised I am.
Firstly, we have an inability to understand the quote about something being “out of balance.” Secondly, we have a failure to understand what a diet is. It’s not always of the “grapefruit/mashed potato/banana diet” ilk. Lastly, it’s the Daily Mail. I don’t know that I’d opt for that as the source of my anything. The heartfelt writings about eating disorders are… meaningful dialogue, but sorely misplaced.
If we want to talk to our young girls about their weight and their health, fine! Lets! Lets make sure that we explain to them the difference between losing weight for health and losing weight for aesthetic purposes. Let’s make sure that we talk to them what the body mass index (or BMI) actually is, and the difference between the BMI’s definition of “overweight” and society’s definition of “overweight.” Let’s make sure that we teach them the importance of good longlasting health. Let’s make sure that we help them understand how beautiful they are, how strong they are, how much world they will have to fight and face every day, how people will use words like “fat” even when they’re rail thin just to try to break them down and break their hearts, and how none of it will make a difference unless they own those understandings.
And most importantly, let’s make sure that we enter those conversations with healthy understandings of the above as well. ‘Cause if I see any more bloggers losing their minds over something so simple and stupid, I’m loading up my paintball gun.