The "F" Word by Stephanie OlsenFat people, women especially, are stunningly reviled world-wide and, despite politically correct, falsely concerned national magazine articles to the contrary, dieting eight-year old girls and bulimic/anorexic teenage heart attack victims are here to stay. From cruel childhood taunts to constant perfect-body-image media bombardment, a fat woman's ego is assaulted daily, to the incredible financial profit of the diet industry.
If we are to protect at-risk children (those with actual or perceived weight problems) from physical harm and/or psychological anguish caused by this last open bigotry, then reliance on reversal by the very mass media that, in large part, created and certainly still promotes the "be-thin-or-be-dead" attitude, is ludicrous. A grass-roots educational approach is the only proven method of value when it comes to altering societal mores.
Parents must teach calm, unquestioning acceptance of obese people as human beings with value in the same manner as they (hopefully) do people of different color or race. Acknowledgment of size ("yes, honey, that lady in the lovely red dress is big") is a truthful observation. Antipathetic commentary ("look at that fat pig"), on the other hand, does nothing but injure, breeding cruelty and intolerance. This unqualified recognition that people come in all shapes and sizes does two things: 1) it establishes a child's own self as a unique person of worth, no matter WHAT she or he looks like or is capable of; and (2) it extols compassionate inclusion of all others: old, tall, paraplegic, bald, freckled, purple-haired with nose rings, whatever.
Instilled prejudices, as with any other strong childhood belief, may hamper us in later life by limiting exploration of an entire world of various ideas, cultures or experiences. Opinions and references formulate over time, but need an unbiased mind in which to percolate. If you teach your child to hate fat people on sight and "on principle", then you deprive him of ever fully appreciating Pavarotti.
What a waste!
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About the author: Stephanie Olsen is a published author, mother of two young children, homeschooler, temporarily relocated to Poland on busines. She is an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and animal rescue volunteer.
Read more of Stephanie's articles at www.familylifeabroad.com
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