“You will finish that plate, young lady! There are kids in Cambodia who are starving. You’re being very ungrateful!”
This is the sort of talk kids my age got around the dinner table when Mom or Dad heaped the plate a bit too high or when the entree was a less than desirable selection. It’s the standby. If you can’t will them into eating by staring them down, just use guilt. Guilt has worked for centuries! The clergy uses it. Our parents use it. As we grow older and have our own children we often fall into the same trap. If you can’t beat ‘em, guilt ‘em.
A parent in Arizona has taken the guilt beyond merely referencing starving children. Why? Because that game is weak. As if by evolution, kids today aren’t as prone to the same things we were victim to. They have an inherited immunity to starving children outside their own home. The next logical step is to show them a real live starving person. There’s nothing more effective than showing a child a person who looks as if they might die without a meal, right? Well perhaps there is. Maybe the ad is worse. See for yourself.
There is really no good way to go about addressing the issues I’ve highlighted because it’s infuriating in any order so I’ll just start at the top.
1. Someone who is really really skinny- It may shock people to realize that as much as those of us with extra pounds hate to hear it, some people are so thin that they dislike the way they look. They may have an actual illness that prevents them from gaining weight.
2. Emancipated claw/hand- You illiterate twit. The word is emaciated. You can find the definition of your word here. If that was the word you actually meant to use then I applaud your ability to move beyond stupid to B level horror special effects. Imagine it… an EMANCIPATED hand floats toward the meatloaf… a whimper is heard from a completely disconnected body to the left.
3. That meatloaf is staying in the trash- Great. While you’re teaching your child not to be wasteful because other people would love to have that food you’re going to be wasteful. Good thinking. You’re such a role model. You wouldn’t want to actually FEED someone who is starving. That’s not the type of message you’re trying to send. I get it.
4. Body-image-malfunction-skinny- Maybe I’m not understanding. You want to show your child a really really skinny person and threaten that if they don’t eat everything that’s put in front of them that they, too will become sickeningly thin. Right. You’d hate for her to get any anorexic notions, but eating when you’re not hungry doesn’t cause any body image issues further down the line. You’ve really thought this through.
5. Parasite skinny- So not only are you going to limit your selection of reasons people might be skinny, and from this description, you actually want to benefit from someone’s illness, but you’re outright asking people to let you make a show of them in the process. Hey, it’s all for the good of your child, right?
6. No compensation- Now you want to be able to make a spectacle of someone and then not pay them for the privilege? Mind. Blown.
For the record, Ms. Anonymous Craigslist Poster, it’s been proven that children will eat when they are hungry. If your concern is that they are eating junk rather than eating healthy options, perhaps you might consider removing unhealthy options from the premises. If your concern is that your child is not eating on your schedule wouldn’t it be much easier to present healthy options and then tell them they can eat what they are offered or wait until the next meal?
Body image “malfunctions” happen for a variety of reasons. Eating disorders stem from these malfunctions. Teaching children to eat everything that is put in front of them does not prevent eating disorders. Objectifying people based on their appearance is putting emphasis where it does not belong. It’s insensitive, ignorant, and disrespectful. Put the focus back on healthy choices, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. The lack of a therapy bill from your future teen’s shrink should be thanks enough.