Recently, I read Peggy Orenstein’s article The Fat Trap on the New York Times’ website. Here’s part of the opening paragraph of The Fat Trap:
Food is never just food. Food is love. Food is solace. It is politics. It is religion. And if that’s not enough to heap on your dinner plate each night, food is also, especially for mothers, the instant-read measure of our parenting. We are not only what we eat, we are what we feed our children.
Not only what we feed them, but how much we feed them. According to the article, ‘good’ parents these days are expected to have normal-weight kids. An overweight child, especially a girl, is viewed as a failure. Reading this floors me. It’s true, but I don’t want it to be, especially in my own psyche. I hate hate hate to admit it, but a lot of the worry I have over my daughter’s health is centered around how others see her and me as a result. I never wanted to be this kind of parent. But is it possible not to be?
Another thing about the article that hit home for me was the unrelenting internal dialogue Orenstein describes that includes eating, social pressures to grow your own organic carrots, body image, and being a model for her daughter. Just reading about the fact that someone else is conducting this balancing act blew my mind.
I’ve never put it into words before, but I try to be thoughtful about the way I approach food in front of my girls in a lot of the same ways Orenstein does. I never talk about growing food organically, but I do make it a point to enjoy my broccoli as well as my ice cream. I try to stay away from my own body image completely. But with the girls I soak up and point out their beauty and strength as often as I can.
Have any of you out there read Orenstein’s article? Reactions? Thoughts?