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Shannon Cutts

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A Question for the First Lady

Posted: 05/21/10 02:35 PM ET

I have one question for Michelle Obama:

Did she have some particular reason for choosing the slogan "War on Obesity" when she formulated her plan to get America's kids in shape?

America's kids look to America's adults for mentoring in all areas of life. When they become tomorrow's leaders, it will be because of the leadership we are giving them today.

How they feel about themselves, the ways in which they relate to others, what they feel capable of deep inside their own skin, what (and whom) they love or hate....well, we were all kids once too, so it's not too difficult to figure out how we got to be the way that we are. Someone taught us, guided us, influenced us, whether by omission or commission.

We are now doing the same for those who follow in our wake.

Unfortunately, we often don't notice the results of our influence until our kids start showing signs of stress. No matter how awkward or scary or inconvenient their breakdowns may be, there is no possible way we can pin the blame for their stress on them. So the culprit flaps around at large for awhile, squawking and screeching and just generally making a mess, until we finally reel it back in and claim it for our own.

Which is why I have just one question for Michelle Obama.

Mrs. First Lady, I want to know why, instead of the "War on Obesity" (which rolls out the red carpet for a continuation of weight and appearance-based stereotypes and prejudices) we couldn't have just called the campaign "Americans for Fit, Healthy Kids"?

Man that has a ring to it!

In his timeless classic song, "Russians", Sting explains very clearly the impact a war on anything has on all involved. He writes: "there's no such thing as a winnable war".

We all want to be healthy. We want our kids to be healthy. We want their kids, and their kids, and their kids, to be healthy too.

But do we know it? Do our kids know it? Is anything we are saying to them right now about our collective adult war on adolescent weight sending them the message that we want them to be healthy, to be fit, to live long and love-filled lives?

It is easy enough to change a slogan, but it is very, very hard to change a legacy. Michelle, will you please reconsider?

 
 
 

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