What’s going on in the world, you guys? Today I saw two headlines, back to back. First, this:
And then this:
What a perfect example of how our feelings about food are so mixed up! In the lunch bullying article, we learn that kids (even in elementary school) are forgoing lunch. There are a bunch of reasons for this – from being bullied about body size to fear of rejection by certain groups to not having an appetite because of bullying. It’s enraging that kids are making fun of others for eating. Eating! A thing that is necessary for human survival. A thing that gives children energy to learn and grow. If anyone still doubts that the media’s obsession with thinness has become toxic, doubt no more. I wonder at the choice of the photo that accompanies this article. Probably someone just googled “lunch room bullying,” and came up with this, but it’s a terrible choice. It shows thin girls whispering about another thin girl, which reinforces the idea that the bullied girl’s body is unacceptable. How will a fat girl feel, if she sees a thin girl purportedly (because of the nature of this article) being picked on for her size? Mixed up, to say the very least.
And then, on the flip side, we have the Nutella Challenge, the goal of which is to eat an entire jar of Nutella in three minutes or less. I love Nutella. It’s delicious, if you like chocolatey, hazelnutty deliciousness. But I find food challenges to be very… well, unpalatable. I don’t find it entertaining or amusing to watch someone eat as much as they possibly can, especially in a short period of time. But I might be in the minority, as there are contests and television shows dedicated to this very practice. Full disclosure: I haven’t watched these Nutella Challenge videos, or read any of the accompanying comments, but I’m willing to bet that fat people are being fat- and body-shamed up the proverbial wazoo. Thin people? Probably not. Just like if a fat woman eats a lot, she’s considered gluttonous and disgusting, whereas if a thin woman does the same, she’s considered quirky and cute. Is it any wonder so many of us have food issues?!
So, in the mixed-up world we live in when it comes to food, what can you do? Start by reminding yourself and your loved ones (especially your children) that food is not the enemy. It is necessary for survival. It fuels our bodies, minds, and hearts. Eating is natural. It is something everyone needs to do in order to stay alive! And then remind yourself (and all those others) that food choices do not define a person’s worth (that includes you!). If you do these things, you can combat the negative, shameful messages surrounding food and eating, one meal at a time.