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Part 2 of Chapter 3 of Runaway Eating

Keira Knightley in the dress that sparked the rumors

Keira Knightley in the dress that sparked the rumors

Eating problems tend to run in families. If your parents or siblings have issues, you’re more likely to have them. Genetic factors, environmental stressors, or a dysfunctional family environment all play a key.

Let’s talk about genes first. Back when the tabloids wrote about Keira Knightley being anorexic, she denied it, to People magazine.

Whatever people say about my weight they are all wrong. Hollywood is about the way you look, and I don’t think that’s the healthy thing for anyone. But, if you’re strong and comfortable with yourself, then you’re going to be fine.

The star had shown up to a film premier with a low-cut, backless bronze Gucci dress. (When they say low-cut, it’s low-cut. It goes down to her belly button.) Her rail thin figure sparked many concerns and gossip.

While saying that there was nothing to worry about, Knightley did add that her family had a history of anorexia. Her grandmother and great-grandmother had suffered from the condition, and she also had a lot of friends who had the condition.


Nicole Richie, another rail thin celebrity suspected at some point to have an eating disorder

Her mother, as reported to Times, later shot down the rumor by telling the press that her daughter is like her father.

She has always been thin. She’s her daddy’s daughter, with his long body… [he] was much, much thinner than Keira. When he was Keira’s age, he had to drink milk with honey and eggs, and go training and training and training, just to be a normal weight.

She eats like a horse. I always want to apologise because she can eat anything that she wants and she does not put on weight.

Thus making the rest of us jealous.

The tendency to have an eating disorder or at least suffer from runaway eating can be passed genetically. Families of women with diagnosed eating disorders tend to have high rates of eating disorders. It follows that runaway eating may be passed genetically.

3238651946_97ebbca1b2However, it’s hard to know whether runaway eating is in part a product of genetics while also being in part a product of the environment. Some research indicates that 5-80% of a risk lies in the genes. Environmental factors are 20-50%. The relationship is quite complex.

For example, you might have the genes, but the tendency will only arise when certain environmental factors come into play. It can be something as benign as a wedding, or as serious as coping with a divorce. one stressor is unhealthy dieting. Someone who gets the idea that dieting can help her have a better life can start a diet and then eventually develop an eating disorder.

Disordered eating may also be related to family of origin. Maybe your family placed great importance on control or you had OCD tendencies. Or told you that certain emotions were forbidden, like anger.

2066666462_213cf38dceOr maybe your parents poked into your life, trying to make you live your life how they want you to live your life. Or maybe your parents placed great importance on physical attractiveness, often dieting and exercising while pushing you to do the same.

The authors speculate that if you are a bingeing runaway, your parents could have been distant. They may have expected a lot from you.

There really is no clear-cut division, however. Remember that.

You also have individual risk factors, depending on your personal characteristics.

Someone with a history of being overweight may be familiar with diets and dieting. Though it’s difficult to lose the weight, losing weight is extremely important to you.

Similarly, someone with a history of bulimia or anorexia has a higher chance that the eating disorder will recur. Complete recovery is uncommon though possible, and many women continue to be preoccupied with food.

133132121_b2d1e9da36Or someone with low-esteem might not like herself. She feels bad about herself and her body. She might believe that thinness will make her more lovable, more worthwhile. I know a beautiful woman and mother of two beautiful daughters who believes that she has to stay skinny so that her husband will still love her. Her husband is very loving, and the chances that he will actually leave her are nil. But there it is.

Some people believe that their self-worth is tied to good looks and thinness. This is common among those in the show biz. Their careers depend on them staying slim and beautiful. Rarely, if ever, will you see a fat model/talk show host/TV announcer unless she’s Oprah. (But then she’s trying to lose the weight because she hates not being able to fit into clothes, etc etc.) No doubt, these women are particularly vulnerable because their livelihoods depend on their attractiveness.

That’s also one reason why no one would really be surprised if Nicole Richie or Keira Knightley actually turned out to be anorexic.

398361237_6a71e21d31During menopause, the risk of obesity rises owing to the changes that occur at this point. Women put on inches around their waists. plus the process is stressful, what with the hot flashes and all. No wonder they turn to food for comfort.

Another thing: those with disordered eating or a clinically diagnosed eating disorder tend to be depressed. One fifth of all people (or women?) experience clinical depression at one point. It comes with sadness, low mood, lack of pleasure in usual activities, and thoughts of suicide to name a few.

80-90% of eating disorders are triggered by anxiety or tension. Some try to relieve stress by not eating, or eating large amounts of food. Bulimics eat, then feel anxious until purge. Many live in a perpetual state of anxiety, afraid of food, gaining weight, and a lot of other things.

824627629_ed9fbd2f03Then there are the perfectionists. They are those who, no matter how much they have achieved, never feel happy with themselves or others. There is the normal drive for success, then there is the extreme that is unhealthy. Goals are unrealistic. There was the young lady yearning for perfection. I saw a list of goals. She wanted to reach 54 pounds. Very very unrealistic. She won’t reach it ever, because she’ll die or slip into a coma before she reaches it. To this type of person, mistakes equal disaster.

Some people also have poor problem-solving skills. Some have difficulty facing their problems. They can’t make connections between the problem and the actual solution. They avoid confrontation. Instead of dealing with the problem head on, they abuse food as a response.

There are other personality factors, like the tendency to starve oneself of affection or being very disciplined and self-controlled. Or the tendency to live life with your emotions on a roller coaster ride. These factors differ from person to person. This brings us to a catalyst: dieting.


Stress Fracture

Part 1 of Chapter 3 of Runaway Eating: what causes Runaway Eating, and who’s at risk?

Earlier on, we talked about stress and how we women can easily turn turn to food for comfort as a result. Why do only some actually become runaway eaters?

luisa_cerano_ladies_fashionThere are some risk factors that are especially responsible. These are as wide-ranging as the media’s emphasis on thinness as beauty, or as personal as family history, or depression. The driving forces do remain the same. While having risk factors don’t ensure that you will get the condition, it does set the stage, so to speak. It might not actually start a fire, but the tinder is built up.

First, we’ll look at the beauty factor. For years and years, women has been valued for her beauty. From Helen of Troy to Paris Hilton, those with beauty seem to have everything. They have wealth, love, adulation, jobs, and career advancement. Many of us spend lots of time and money on cosmetics, manicures, and pedicures. We flip through catalogues and women’s magazines looking for the latest styles.

The sad part is that to society, beauty equals thin/skinny/slim/slender. Most people cannot achieve the desired  weight. They were not made for it. How can a big-boned woman like Oprah ever become a waif like Nicole Richie? It brings a terrible price, this pursuit.

The writers have compiled a short timeline for this.

Camille Clifford: the ideal Gibson Girl

Camille Clifford: the ideal Gibson Girl

The early 1900s. Thin becomes in. This is perhaps when it all started. Before this time, plump, full curves were the ideal. They indicated that the well-endowed woman was well-fed and didn’t have to work.

The early 20th century ended this trend of round people. Slim, trim, and slender was desired, perhaps to differentiate from the stocky immigrants that were pouring into the States. It was a symbol of good breeding and discipline. Heaviness, the women thought, meant laziness, greediness, and lack of self-control.

Charles Dana Gibson revolutionized our perceptions with the Gibson Girl. This woman appeared tall, very slim, fit, and athletic with a small waist. Her face was gorgeous. Naturally no one looked like this, or very few people. After all, she was merely a figment of the artist’s imagination, based on what he felt the ideal woman should look like. However, women felt bad about themselves or not achieving this goal.

Just then, a physical fitness craze hit the country. Clothes started to reveal more, making women feel self-conscious about their appearance.

A typical flapper, but a modern picture from a costume shop

The flapper.

1920s: This was the age of the flappers. These girls wanted to be free to dance, play sports, and lead more active lives than their mothers and grandmothers. No more corsets, sleeves, or skirts. Well, not really. But whatever was there barely scraped the top of their calves. Women’s anxieties skyrocketed, especially since the perfect flapper’s body was small, slim, and flat chested. Fad diets were in. Self-induced vomiting was in. Laxative abuse was in.

Advertisers took the chance to take advantage of women’s insecurities about themselves to talk about weight-loss equipment, fad diets, and much much more. The message here was: “Slim down and you’ll be beautiful and happy.”

1940s to 1970s. Thin becomes a fashion statement. We know from other reading that designers prefer skinny models. Why? Because skinny works like a hanger. Clothes hang on the lady with fewer wrinkles, while people with a little shape have more wrinkles because of their curves.



Along the way, the hanger lady became an object of beauty. But no one looked like a hanger. Big problem. Instead of seeing that this ideal was not only unattainable but also quite ridiculous, women conformed it. They lusted after it, starved to fit into it. The result was despair.

Twiggy, a 95 lb, 5 feet 6 teen model, exploded onto the fashion scene during the late 1960s. Her sticklike figure made everyone feel heavy, even slim women. Fashions left little to the imagination. People believed, “You can never be too thin or too rich.” Eating disorders, as a result, suddenly abounded.



1980s. A fitness craze hit the nation. Jane Fonda turned out her famous exercise videos, urging women to “feel the burn.” The thin woman was apparently not only supposed to be hanger girl, but also have well-defined muscles, flat stomach, and a small, tight butt. Jane Fonda had all these things. Only later did people find out that she was bulimic. However, this look was impossible for most women. Those that succeeded did so only by spending hours at the gym, or starving, or purging.

1990s. Welcome to the era of the middle-aged woman who never gets old. Think about the 40-50 year olds (like Goldie Hawn or Demi Moore) who look like 20 year olds. These woman have an unusual combination of genes, along with personal trainers and plastic surgery. They have set a higher standard: looking your age is bad. You should be doing all you can to look young.


Demi Moore

I can’t deny that. It seems that every single magazine I open is filled with spreads and spreads of anti-aging commercials. It’s not just the commercials, either. Most women’s magazines include a beauty section which will inevitably include some creams and serums which will make you look younger. The product testing department also has a few products. Why? Because right now there’s a demand for such products. We want to look young. We want to look young now. We also want to continue to look young at age 50-60, just like Demi Moore. I don’t think Moore or Hawn are responsible for the problem, but the fact that the media commends them and emphasizes the fact that they still look young even at such an age makes most women feel inadequate for not being like that.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn

Yellow Light

Part 4 of Chapter 2 of Runaway Eating: What is Runaway Eating?

3307363788_5d7e6a1407There are several warning signs that you could watch for. Some include:

  • constant dieting
  • weight fluctuation
  • thinking constantly about food/diet
  • guilt about eating
  • depressed because weight is all “wrong”
  • believing that losing weight is really the answer to problems.

Healthy eating is eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full. You know when you’re eating to solve problems and eating simply because you’re hungry.

This book includes a quiz that may also help a lot.

3370910024_71c47c9770The authors offer a bit of hope. The good thing is that you can defeat this problem of runaway eating. We now know that eating disorders can range from mild to severe, though they run by the same train of thought. The authors can conclude that we can thus use similar psychological treatments to fix this.

There’s also the 8 point treatment plan which really does make a lot of sense. However, we’re not going into that yet.

Next up: Risk factors. The beauty factor.

Losing Battle

Part 3 of Chapter 1 in the book Runaway Eating: Not for Teenagers Only

Stress wreaks havoc on everything. It can cause major diseases and difficulties, both physically and psychologically.

3120725143_43a6d1677cStress sets off a fire alarm. It prepares your body to fight to the death, or run a mile. Now that’s useful if you’re being chased by lions and tigers and  bears, but if you’re just yelling at your kids to get ready for school, that’s overkill. If you’re under stress all the time, this is really bad for your body.

Stress can also be destructive psychologically. You may feel depressed, anxious, or powerless; awful feelings. Naturally you want to feel better and escape those feelings, so you might turn to alcohol, or work. We might get addicted to our anti-depressants.

Or… we might turn to food.

Food is highly attractive. It symbolizes pleasure, comfort, amusement, and distraction. It can be found everywhere and anywhere in this culture. We get involved in it, for it is easily available, socially acceptable, and hard to resist. Too many of us use to relieve stress, if only for a few moments.

534797974_62473413ddAnd so, we end up misusing food. We eat too much or too less. We might eat too much junk food. Meanwhile, we’re just compensating for an imbalance in our lives (or black hole, as another writer described).

Sometimes someone who is on drugs is easy to stop. However, someone who misuses food is not so obvious. Everyone’s on a diet, so no one will look at you twice  if you’re skipping lunch. In fact, you may even be praised for your choice. Though it may seem like a normal habit, everything can go wrong. Misusing food is habit forming and addictive, like alcohol or drugs.

The writers say that this may at least cause a negative impact on your self image, your relationships with others, and your quality of life. In more severe cases, the calcium will be sucked from your bones. You may face heart problems, anemia, changes in brain structure, or even death.

Years ago, our relationship with food was different. We used food to care for others, expressing our love by cooking meals. The women of older days would bring baked goods to families who were poor, or to their neighbors who were sick. People ate their meals together. This was their time to spend time together. Food wasn’t an issue, except when someone was starving because of a lack of it.

324463349_9f12f4c11bNow, food is our enemy. It tempts us, making us feel fat and awful. Through diets, we learn to avoid food. Cooking isn’t as much fun anymore. Rarely will we prepare food for a sick neighbor. We want to find ways to cook smaller portions in the least time possible. The women of today are thankful for portion-control TV dinners, like the one on the right. We also believe that if we eat too much food, we can ruin our lives and make people stop loving us.

We have produced a disconnect between food and our bodies. Food is something that is to be hated. It is no longer something that nourishes us while giving us the energy to get through the day. Mealtimes are no longer fun. We have forgotten the simple law of listening to our bodies. We don’t eat when we’re hungry, and when we’re not hungry, we eat. We have forgotten that food doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Yet, our appetites are never satisfied. Organic foods, processed foods, junk, sugar, and more doesn’t fill us. The stress of our lives makes us feel empty. The answer to the emptiness is to fill ourselves with cinnamon buns and chips. It doesn’t work.

3478379369_eeb6ef8f00Or, we think we can exercise and diet like crazy. But we never win.

We have to learn how to make friends with food, and learn to decipher what our bodies and hearts are saying.

We also need something, Someone, to fill the empty hole inside of us, instead of turning to the fridge in a vain attempt to fill the hole with cookies and cheesecake.

Runaway Eating

Started a new book . . .

vanilla-cake-ABFOOD0706-dePart 1 of chapter 1 of Runaway Eating: Not for Teenagers Only

Eating disorders is a disease widely known as a teenager problem. Maybe it’s a surprise to find out that eating disorders are not just for teenagers. Midlife women suffer from it. Right now, a disturbing trend involves these older women seeking treatment for eating disorders.

RunawayEat AmzLThe book Runaway Eating by Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., and Nadine Taylor, M.S., R. D. takes a good look at this trend. They also include an 8 point plan to help conquer this kind of thinking. (I will not go through the 8 point plan because there’s a lot of books to read.) This book, is, however, designed to help the reader make informed decisions about health, and is not a medical manual by any means. And if you are suffering from an eating disorder, it’s best to seek a doctors help rather than to turn to a book alone.

The authors define Runaway Eating in the introduction as “consistent use of food or food-related behavior (such as purging or excessive exercise) to deal with unpleasant feelings, and feeling that these behaviors are out of control.” The writers think of this problem as a sort of pre-eating disorder because while the behavior doesn’t match the symptoms of a clinically-defined eating disorder like bulimia nervosa, this disordered eating is marked by a very unhealthy relationship with food.

Often, this behavior is the result of using food to run away from problems.

3533308065_ddc7e89da2Runaway eating runs rampant through society. However, using food as a solution for your problems is no solution at all, as women find out.

Nadine Taylor, a registered dietitian and coauthor of this book, suffered from a mild form of an eating disorder. She was bulimic, yet conquered it.

Runaway eaters are people who otherwise appear to be normal and in control of their lives, yet who have unhealthy relationships with food or their bodies that could interfere with personal relationships, threaten their quality of life, and set them up for future health problems.

By using food to run away from our problems, we find that our eating habits run away with us.

Go on any Xanga blogring or Facebook group devoted to people with eating disorders. You’ll see that they’re populated with young women and teenage girls as young as eleven. You don’t see a whole lot of people older than 30. We’ve heard of the Princess Diana’s bulimic tendencies, and all the young actresses who starve themselves.

However, the people over 30 with this problem are growing. They consist of women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even older! There’s a dramatic increase in women seeking out treatment. It could be because of the growing availability of such programs, and the decrease in the shame of having an eating disorder. Hard statistics are hard to get, because most women don’t seek help until their troubles become unbearable.

diet pills

diet pills

A full-blown eating disorder develops gradually. It doesn’t suddenly appear. Eating disorders range from mild to severe. Most women have a mild form of disordered eating.

Many with eating problems had eating disorders that they never shed when they were young. According to a review, half of those with anorexia and at least one third of those with bulimia carry their problems into early and middle adulthood. However, many women are developing an eating disorder for the first time in their lives. Why?

Maybe it’s because today’s typical midlife woman is more concerned about her appearance. She works outside to home, and worries about being passed over by younger people for jobs, power, attention, and raises. She dislikes being seen as an old grandmother, and may have a fear of aging. Due to changes caused by menopause, her waistline may increase. She’s more likely to seek help for depression.

The most important factor, though, is the stressful life that she leads.

Next up: the many stressful situations a midlife woman faces.

Physical Appeal in the Classroom

Looks: Chapter 4

We’ve now learned that parents tend to discriminate against their less attractive children. What about teachers?

325752626_69392aa6b1Yes. They expect more attractive children to perform better. As a result, the teachers devote more attention to children whom they think have greater potential. And because the teacher expects better stuff out of them, the children actually DO better.

Dr. Rosenthal of Harvard pioneered work on this. He had a fake non verbal test of intelligence done to a group of schoolchildren. Out of this group, a random group of schoolchildren were chosen as the experimental group. He told the teachers that certain scores on the test displayed that there would be a future spurt in intellect for the experimental group. However, the only real difference between the experimental group and the other group was in the teachers’ minds. All the same, the experimental group showed far more progress.

This kind of discriminating against those who are less attractive is called lookism. It has a corrosive effect on self-esteem.

Studies show that even when attractive and unattractive students earn identical records, teachers still believe that in the future, attractive students will do better than the unattractive students.

Not only that, they would punish the students who don’t look beautiful, while the attractive students get away without punishment.


Snow White from a picture book

Snow White from a picture book

Don’t forget the beautiful = good stereotype that we talked about earlier. A highly attractive person would be associated with a favorable personality and the best quality of life traits. Further studies show that children are more likely to attribute positive characteristics to better looking people than adults are.


Another trend noticed is that attractive females are more popular than attractive males. At least when they’re young. I’ve noticed this in Sunday school (@ church). The younger classes are full of an abundance of cute girls and cute boys. The cute girls get more attention than the cute boys. However, the cute boys could care less, while the cute girls seem to live for the attention.

An important factor in the development of this is parents. According to famous social psychologist Albert Bandura, social behavior is learned through observing and imitating the behaviors observed most frequently. Parents, teachers, TV are a good source for behaviors to be imitated. That means that if a child observes that the physical attractive person is good and gets treated better than the unattractive, he or she might adopt this behavior as his or her own. Because elders (along with TV) play such an important role in a child’s life, they are a possible cause.

Maybe this is why children as young as age 5 are sensitive to different body types, with a preference for normal weight bodies.

Back to my friend with two daughters. This lady is a compulsive dieter. She’s as skinny as a stick yet believes that she is too fat. (Problem?) Her oldest daughter (age 5) picked up this way of thinking. One day, she said to her mother, “I’m a princess. Daddy is a prince. Mommy, you cannot be a princess because you are too fat.”


Children who are of average size or are muscular are seen as happy, kind, smart, neat, strong, and popular. Plump children, however, are perceived as sloppy, lazy, stupid, and likely to cheat. 

It’s scary but not surprising that many eight year olds diet nowadays

ChipObesity is a national plague. Children between the ages of 6 to 11 are three times as likely to be overweight as in 1970. Obesity has come to rival smoking as a source of premature death. People who were obese when  young have a greater frequency of psychological symptoms and emotional problems than people who only became obese when older.

I have a good friend named Henry who was overweight when he was very young. Sadly, he got a lot of teasing when he was in elementary and middle school. He started running and lost it all in high school. But when Henry was in college, he got an eating disorder. Right now he’s normal weight. He’s also pretty good looking. The women tend to swoon around him. But deep down inside him, he still feels the effects of that teasing years ago. How old is Henry? 28.

Speaking of teasing, I’m sure most of my readers remember the Columbine High School incident. Whitehead and Hoover of University of North Dakota reviewed the case and did research on bullying. They found that bullying had a link to body issues. And that at any given time, 60% of American women and girls admit to dieting.

Adolescence is a critical period of development. It’s more difficult for girls than guys as girls are more concerned about attractiveness and less satisfied with their appearance to begin with. Teenage girls were found by the same researchers to be concerned that their thighs, butt, and hips were too large. Younger girls were dissatisfied with their teeth, face, and feet.

Vanderbilt University psychologists set out to find the pressures that drive young women to be happy with their body image. Is it innate sense that their bodies should look a certain way? Or does it come from feedback from other people? They did conclude that already depressed women are driven to further despair by the idealized media images.

Other studies suggest that attractiveness is risky. Pretty women college students are at a risk for an eating disorder if their perfectionism combines with anxiety and the tendency to be hypercritical. They may also be more likely to criticize thin women for their efforts to stay slim.

treadmillThere is hope for the bullied. Whitehead and Hoover found out that the most successful programs combine diet and exercise within a framework of significant behavior change. The programs should be implemented with schools, families, and doctors.

However, it is difficult to maintain these plans. Even so, PE programs that look at individual children’s needs may serve as a thread to reconnect those children with adults who care. Who knows what might have happened if my friend Henry had been in a program like that? Things may have been very different. Also remember that physical activity and exercise is more effective in treating depression.

Another way that the emphasis on physical attractiveness warps learning experience is in sexuality. Teens have a desire to attract the opposite sex. They also have a deep need for validation. A study of 280 college students showed that more attractive the sexual partner, the less inclination for students to take precautions.

How about students’ attitudes toward attractive versus ugly teachers?

empty plate Periodic student evaluations came in not a long time ago. These factor greatly into tenures and promotion. However, it seemed that looks were more important than teaching ability. I have been to ratemyprofessors.com to check the ratings of the professors I’ve had, and I saw that the ratings of a professor I loved in a class I enjoyed were very negative. A lot of the posts mentioned her rather unkempt appearance.

Several subsequent studies confirmed that students tend to rate their teacher’s performance more on the basis of superficialities like PA and clothing style than on the content of their lectures or their abilities to communicate.

So looks do matter. A lot.

Next: Physical attractiveness and careers

Jacob Have I Loved

Looks: Chapter 3

My grandmother had two sons. The first one was my dad.

When they were born, she was horrified that they looked so ugly. After all, she was a beautiful woman, and my grandfather was handsome.

It’s no surprise to me, reading that some mothers are more affectionate towards their more attractive offspring. Even the appearance of babies influenced maternal behavior. 

I know a woman in my church who has two daughters. From the moment her second was born, she (the baby) got all the attention. People thought that she was cuter, prettier, more charming than her older sister.It came to the point where these two young girls had to be told things like, “You’re prettier than your sister.” One was five, the other was two.

9780690040784-lSocial scientists have also found that parents devote more energy and resources to the more attractive sibling. It’s interesting. I’ve read books like Jacob Have I Loved by katherine Paterson which followed this theme. In this particular story, there were twin girls. One was prettier, more talented, and could sing like a bird. She was loved by everyone in the small seaside town they lived in. and people said that she was the promising one. The second – the older twin – was plain, less talented, rough, and jealous of her beautiful sister. The story is told from the point of view of the older, plainer sister, and it’s quite painful to read at times. The grandmother would purposely hurt the older sister by talking about the Biblical story of Esau and Jacob.

Even later on in life, the best friend of the older sister passed her up for her more beautiful twin.

Even babies know what’s “attractive.” Studies show that they prefer to look longer at faces rated as attractive by adults than at “unattractive” faces.

hoggatt6Children also tend to choose friends based on physical appeal as well, because in their heads attractiveness goes with smartness, friendliness, and so on. A study by social scientist Karen K. Dion showed that when children misbehave and must be punished, being more attractive means escaping harsher punishment. There are lower expectations for that child. Going back to my friend with two daughters, I could see this trend play out. Because her daughters were cuter than a lot of their peers, they escaped a lot of punishment. I once saw her two year old climbing on a table. Her mother said nothing to her, except to maybe smile. But when the autistic kid climbed on the table, my friend (and others) reprimanded him harshly. 

Simply because she was the most beautiful child (as well as charming) her behavior was excused.

Is it fair? No.

disney-walt-cinderella-1192713Children learn about physical appearance stereotypes in many ways, including the behavior mentioned above. However, there’s also fairy tales.

Cinderella (on the right) is good, and she is beautiful. In contrast, her wicked stepsisters (on the left) are bad and ugly. They pick on poor Cinderella all the time. No wonder they don’t get the prince! 

cinderella08But sadly, in the process, children associate ugly with bad and beautiful with good.

I remember a retelling of the Cinderella story. I loved this retelling. It was about a Cinderella who was thin and emaciated from hard work and starvation. She decided that her way to get out of this mess was to go to the ball, meet the prince, and live happily ever after. That’s what happened. The prince fell in love with her lovely, starved appearance, and she moved into the palace to prepare for the wedding. She gained weight. Well, she didn’t become fat or anything. But she just wasn’t starved anymore. To make matters worse, she found that the handsome prince was dumb, shallow, and didn’t have a brain. And then she falls in love with someone less attractive and leaves the palace.

justellaLoved that story. I recommend it to anyone with younger children, because it’s appropriate for pre-teens. 

Dr. Patzer says that the media isn’t that different from the fairy tale ideals. Adolescents and adults often attempt to mold their bodies and those of their children to the ideal. It’s disturbing that those teenagers are being pressured – not just from magazines and TV – but from their family and friends! Such attempts to diet can lead to serious eating disorders. The teenager could die. Teenage girls need proper nutrition to develop the way they should develop. They shouldn’t be starving. 

Let’s go back to my friend. She was considering putting her newborn daughter on a diet because her newborn’s thighs were “too fat.” The other members of my church were begging her NOT to. 

This woman is REAL. Sadly, she is an example of a woman who has been influenced by the media to the point that she will push that ideal on her daughter.


I want to brain that woman sometimes.

apples-pictureWhen it comes to children, parents and peers should not pressure their children to look like Paris Hilton or (God forbid!) Nicole Richie. A thin body isn’t always a sign of good health, but of unwise nutrition.