81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
Sit with that for a minute.
What this says about our culture:
- Being fat is seen as one of the worst possible things that can happen to a person. Another statistic: >50% of women 18-25 would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.
- We blame our fear of being fat on concern for health, but I think that's a story we are telling ourselves. Because if health were truly our concern we wouldn't go to such extreme measures to lose weight.
- A 10 year old who is afraid of being fat learned this somewhere – probably at home or school, and probably from a well-meaning adult in his/her life. The child doesn't have the capacity to really understand the implications of this. What he/she does understand is that being fat is a bad thing in the eyes of his/her caretakers, and could lead to his rejection.
- Fat is an identity. Look at the language we use – "I am fat." Not true. You have fat. You also have hair, but you don't say "I am hair."
- The fatism in our society is so pervasive that it's seeped into the minds of kids 10 years old and younger. At least 50% of 3-6 year olds are also afraid of being fat.
- There are a lot of bad things that can happen to a person over the course of their life, but most kids don't sit around worrying about getting cancer or their house burning down. Why are they so worried about being fat?
My hypothesis is that what we are really afraid of is being unloveable, and we've equated fat with unloveable. Check out tomorrow's blog post for ways to help kids love their bodies.