‘Eat your food, honey.’
‘No dad,’ the slight, blue-eyed blonde said. ‘I don’t want to get fat.’
‘You are not fat. Eat your food honey.’
‘No dad, I want to be a model on TV.’
Her father paused, then responded in a stern voice.
‘Baby, those girls who are skinny and don’t eat end up in hospital or dead.’
Ok, so that father took quite a hard line. But fair enough. While the savvy six-year-old was correct – a sandwich would have been a much more nutritious lunch* – one so young should not be preoccupied with her weight.
What is a parent to do when faced with a battle like this with their own child?
Of relevance is this article on Susie Orbach’s work from www.timesplus.co.uk:
Thirty years ago, Susie Orbach identified fat as a feminist issue, and went on to become Britain’s most famous psychotherapist when she treated Princess Diana. In her new book, she warns that ‘body distress’ is no longer an illness suffered by the few, but an epidemic, the new norm. …
Such was the revolutionary vigour of Fat Is a Feminist Issue when it was published 30 years ago that for a moment the screwed-up relationship between women and food looked like it could be resolved. In Susie Orbach’s urgent, crusading prose, all was illuminated: diets don’t work because they lead only to bingeing; we eat compulsively to try to soothe inner hurts or we get fat as a subconscious rebellion, to opt out of how society insists we look and behave.
It became an instant classic, a student bookshelf staple, and Orbach’s theories entered the mainstream in a thousand self-help bibles. Yet today women and food are more embattled than ever. Obesity and food disorders – which stem, Orbach believes, from one root cause, the perversion of our natural appetites – are epidemic, while female body-loathing now begins in primary school, extending even into the old folks’ home. “I did not expect,” she says, “to be still writing about this three decades on.”
In an interview promoting her ‘Endangered Species’ campaign, Susie explains.
Mums can help their kids by being aware of their own body issues. The less they go in front of the mirror and say, I look awful, I look too fat, I shouldn’t eat this, the less young girls will grow up thinking this is the way I should be. The more that women can talk about the emotional issues rather than the body issues.
See the full interview with Susie Orbach on body image, the commercialization of happiness and her ‘Endangered Species’ campaign here
* McDonalds IS full of crap but does serve its purpose as a haven for those suffering hangovers, shifting house or requiring a free indoor playground with clean baby-changing facilities!