I will admit that I think about my weight at least three times a day. And nothing puts me in a bad mood like trying on my "skinny" jeans and wondering whether perhaps I had grabbed my daughter's pair by mistake as they won't go past my thighs. But if there is one thing I'm concerned with more than my own weight, it's not creating the same obsession in my children.
By textbook, I've done everything right. I don't force the kids to finish their meals, just judge by when their tummies are full. I allow sweets but on balance with a healthy diet. I ask them how they feel about how they look in a certain outfit, not what I think. And I never discuss my weight or my feelings about it, eating healthy meals with them throughout the day.
So I was rather frustrated when I realized the Weight War had launched a cleverly disguised missile when I took my nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter to get some back-to-school clothes. We weren't anywhere trendy, a major inexpensive chain in fact. The most attractive and prominently displayed pairs were the "skinny" jeans. My daughter, who is slim and petite by any standards, pulled with frustration to get the "super skinny" version on. Skinny won, my daughter lost. My son, on the other hand, slid into the skinnies like they were tailor made for his slender body. Both pouted, exasperated.
"Am I fat, mom?" Asked my daughter, who at seven is still in a car seat. Strike one.
"I don't want to wear skinny pants!" Declared my son who recently asked if I would teach him to do push ups to add a little muscle to his fine frame. Strike two.
I tried to explain that "skinny" was just a marketing term, like boot cut. They were having none of it.
"But they cut the pants so you can wear boots with them," My savvy daughter replied, "So they must cut these pants for skinny people...Like Jack."
After five more minutes of useless explaining on my part, we left the jeans, Seemingly my kids will be adopting the "flood" look for fall.
As we drove home silently, I pondered the skinny damage. It was disappointing to realize that at such tender ages, kids were already being negatively defined by the fashion industry. With so much attention on looks as we mature, do our littlest consumers really need this? Will it cause my daughter to be anorexic or my son to take steroids? Unlikely. But it does seem to be unnecessary labeling that this media saturated generation doesn't need.
On the way home we stopped at the coffee bean. The slim twenty-something in front of us ordered a Skinny Latte.
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