I dropped a bomb on my friends and family recently when I blogged about the fact that I suffered from Anorexia for seven years. The point that I made was that even though I was suffering from a dangerous disorder, because I was doing it in a relatively functional way, my behavior was completely supported and even encouraged. This strikes deep fear into my heart when it comes to the welfare of our society’s children. I do not want for my kids to have to go through I have been through. I don’t want to see one child go through it. I don’t want for my friends and family to suffer through it like I know some of them probably are this very moment. I am still working to look in the mirror and love what I see every day, and I am fully aware of how truly awful it is that I live in a world that has influenced me in such a terrible manner. Yes, I know that Dove has a campaign out and there are several others, but they are clearly not working. We can’t keep raising our children this way, it just isn’t right.
These are just my preliminary thoughts on things that I think we need to do to get started. It has got to be big. This needs to be a movement, and I want your help. If we all work together, we can find a way to fix this. It brings me to tears when I think of the time and potential that we all waste because we are so consumed by manipulating our own body images. We could be living in a world free of hunger or war right now if we put the same effort into solving those problems that we do into our own appearances. It is a true and great tragedy, and my mission is to change it.
1. We need to redefine reward to our children. The number one health risk that our country faces is refined sugar: PERIOD. We must stress health as an absolute over appearance, and we need to start with redefining treats to our kids. When they have been good, when they have been having a bad day, or when they finish their vegetables for goodness sakes, we reward them with sugar. It is so completely ludicrous, and yet we just refuse to see it because we all love the stuff. I don’t think that it is absolutely necessary that everyone cut refined sugar from their diets the way that we have, but we must view it for what it is and stop looking at it like a treat. We need to consider it more like a health risk that must be consumed in EXTREME moderation. We must demand that percentage of daily sugars be listed on food labels. I honestly believe that half of the sickness in our country could be eradicated if we simply stop our overconsumption of sugar, maybe even more. If we care about our kids we have to let our addiction to sugar go.
2. We need to start teaching children self-love, and for things aside from the way they look. I don’t think that there are a lot of children out there who would even consider that we were talking about anything aside from their appearance when we tell them that they are beautiful. I don’t know if it is because of our conservative society, or because of our predominately monotheistic religions that we constantly neglect to teach our children to love themselves. I am not saying that anyone has to abandon their religion to teach their children that it is more important to love themselves than to love their god, but can’t we teach them to love the part of god that lives inside themselves? We are so constantly driven to look outside of ourselves rather than to look inside to find happiness. If we could manage to ingrain self-love in children when they are young then we could raise a generation with far more potential than any that has ever come before it.
3. I think that we need to embrace our inner nerds. There needs to be a shift in perspective where we refuse to glorify celebrities who are beautiful, but dumb, and often really terrible people to boot. Why, oh why, do we allow our children to aspire to be like the train wrecks of human beings that are the product of the entertainment industry? How many of our children could easily list ten celebrities, but not ten scientists? It is sickening, we are screwing them up when all that we want in the world is for them to grow up and to be happy. I guess that we are all going to have to admit to ourselves just what we are doing wrong, deal with it like adults, and get to work on changing it. We are going to have to change ourselves to make a better future for our children.
I strongly encourage comments on this article. If you think that I am terribly wrong about all of this please tell me, and please tell me why. We need to get a conversation started so that we can get to work digging ourselves out of this mess. I can’t do it alone either. I need your help.