Friday, February 24, 2012

Why would Disney teach kids to bully each other and feel bad about themselves?

Why would Disney teach our children to pick on each other?  Why would they teach discrimination and stereotyping based on a physical characteristic?   THAT is exactly what Disney is doing in their exhibit Habit Heroes.  (Warning:  Do not watch with children in the room.  This exhibit teaches kids to believe all fat kids are lazy, gluttonous, and stupid.  When thin kids watch this, it will encourage prejudice & bullying.  When fat kids see this, they ARE being bullied by Disney and it will make them feel bad about themselves. )

Have we learned nothing about discrimination in the last 44 Years?  Why are we still dividing kids up based on physical characteristics and encouraging negative stereotypes about those kids?  In 1968 a teacher in a small Iowa town did an experiment with her third-grade class.  Jane Elliott divided her class based on physical characteristics.  

Based only on those physical characteristics, she told her class that one group of children "were better people" than the other group of children.  The resulting discrimination, devastated self-esteem, and differences in performance were astonishing.  Discrimination hurts.  Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online to learn more about the negative effects of discrimination based on physical characteristics.  (Have your tissues ready.  You will cry.)

In Disney's Habit Heroes they divide our children into two groups:

  • The thin kids who are assumed to be healthy eaters, regular exercisers, and having control of themselves.
  • The fat kids (those who have been labeled with "childhood obesity") are assumed to be gluttonous, lazy, out of control snackers
In our culture, with the War on Childhood Obesity, where we focus on children's body size, we are teaching discrimination based on the physical characteristic of body size.  This teaches our children to discriminate against each other and that they are entitled to bully each other.  It teaches our children to hate their large bodies and themselves.

Instead of bullying exhibits like Habit Heroes and hurtful campaigns like the "War on Childhood Obesity" (which could also be called a "War on Large Body Size" ... it is a war on a physical characteristic!) what else can we do?  We cannot just ignore the health of our children.

Instead of teaching discrimination based on body size, we can encourage body appreciation and healthy lifestyles for all sizes.  There is a new peace movement called "Health At Every Size®".

Our schools, doctors, and government should support the five principles of HAES℠:
1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

In your life, as you write comments online, and in your messages to Disney, YOU can promote this new peace movement.
Please watch this Frontline special "A Class Divided" online and CHOOSE to be part of ending size-discrimination for our children and in your life!

Hopefully and Tearfully (because I am now watching segment 4 where Jane Elliott is teaching adults her lesson),
Kelly Bliss

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why focus on LIFESTYLE and NOT on weight?

Most of my clients come to me to lose weight.  I ask them to put that goal on the back burner and try focusing on their ACTIONS instead.  I am so pleasantly surprised that there are so many people willing to take this brave step. But why on earth would we do such a radical thing as focus on lifestyle instead of weight?  The reason is simple.  Focusing on weight loss can CAUSE people to give up on their healthy lifestyle and actions of self-care.  These are some of the facts that I share to help people give up the old weight loss paradigm in favor of the LIFESTYLE paradigm.

When people focus on weight and then do not lose weight fast enough, they become frustrated.  This frustration often causes them to stop their healthy behaviors.  “Heck, if I am working this hard and I only lost this puny amount, what’s the use in trying!”

When weight loss is the goal, and the body responds by “plateauing” or leveling off at a stable weight.  People get frustrated and either stop their healthy behaviors or they ramp up their effort and eat less / exercise more.  For most people, this ramped up effort simply cannot be sustained long term and that causes people to give up on their self-care.

Sometimes when hitting the plateau, people ramp up their food restriction and workout intensity to the point where they embrace eating disordered thinking and actions.  If this ramped up effort combines with a pre-disposition toward eating disorders, then a full blown eating disorder may develop. 

And then there is the reality of weight cycling.  Almost every large and very large person I know has "dieted their way up to this higher weight".  Even though 95% of weight loss dieters gain back the weight they lost plus more, when the body asserts its weight set point and causes weight gain, people often blame themselves.  This causes increased body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem, which robs people of the motivation for self-care.  They give up on the actions of healthy living because they are devastated by the weight cycling process.

If focusing on weight so often causes people to give up on the actions of self-care, what else can be done?  Understandably so, people often say:  “I cannot just stay this way at war with my body and in a battle with food!  I cannot just give up and eat my way into oblivion.” I do have a response to this desperation.

I ask you to do something very familiar ... and something revolutionary.  The familiar activity is to work on your healthy eating, fitness, etc.  Only this time we will include intuitive eating and enjoyable movement.  We will pay attention to your whole self, including relationships, environment, stress, sleep, and more.  

The revolutionary part is that I will encourage you to do all of these actions because your wonderful body deserves the CARE, totally independent of weight or weight loss goals.

Whatever happens with your weight will be an inconsequential
side effect of your healthy LIFESTYLE.  

You take care of yourself and let your weight take care of itself.