Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Licking Lamposts

Saw something in the @guardian today, gave me pause.

Top middle: ‘I need feminism because… my 12 year old sister already cares about how much she eats.’ Ah, been there. My daughter is 8 years old, and I’ve heard her complain more than once about how fat she is, about how her tummy isn’t as flat as it once was, and how she must do something to make it flat again.

She’s 8. At 8 years old I had gap teeth and bad hair and neither knew nor cared about it. At 8 years old I had just about managed to figure out that licking a lampost in winter was a bad idea. At 8 years old I spent my days thinking about all sorts of ridiculous things but I certainly never once thought about whether the Curly Whirly I was stuffing down my throat had a few too many calories.

Where does she get it from? Well, OK. In this case it’s probably me. I confess. My bad. I’ve been relatively unhappy about my own girth for a while; I’m not huge, but I am just slightly short for my weight, and I’ve reached the point where baggy t-shirts don’t quite hide it anymore. Too much beer, too great a fondness for cheese, an excessive liking for food generally. A working life spent sat on my (increasingly large) arse staring at a computer screen. As a result I have a wardrobe full of clothes I like but can no longer fit into and an increasing aversion to stairs. So I’ve been cutting down, eating less cake, enjoying (?) more salads, walking a bit more… and idiotically talking about calories and carbs in front of La Child who, being La Child, clearly picks this stuff up.

It’s no bad thing to teach a child the notion of healthy eating. And as parents we all do it, don’t we? Eat your greens; no you can’t have a pack of fizzy cola bottles for breakfast; you’ve been sat in front of that telly for hours, go outside and climb a tree. And it’s not a terribly onerous task, is it? If you have a choice between a Big Mac and fries or some pasta, you know, sometimes, try the pasta. Run around a bit. Think of chocolate eclairs as a treat rather than one of your five a day. But at what point does sense stop and Bulimia start? Is it a slippery slope to talk about this stuff in front of children? Start with the introduction of salads and the next thing you know it’s diet, Anorexia, front page of the Daily Mail.

I exaggerate, of course. I don’t really think La Child will have issues. Thankfully she’s relatively sensible and can (occasionally) be reasoned with. Yes, she tends to soak nonsense up with everything else, and being surrounded by other 8 year old girls at school doesn’t help, but she does eventually filter it out.

Makes you wonder, though.