For those of you who don’t know, Weight Watchers has come out with a new program called Kurbo where children as young as 8 years old can download the app and start a weight-loss program. Obviously everyone will have their own opinion about this, and that’s okay. But I just thought that I would share some of my experiences with Weight Watchers at a young age and some of the effects that “dieting” for the purpose of losing weight can have on children.
I was in middle school when I first tried out Weight Watchers. Obviously I was not attending meetings, but I would use my parents books and calculators and I even had charts to keep track of it all.
I counted my points, eating 13-24 points per day depending on my weigh in that morning. (I would also often weigh myself after every meal and bathroom break.) Based on the amount of weight that I lost from the day before and how effective my choice of foods were I would adjust the amount of points I could eat during the day. When my mom asked what I had eaten that day, I would lie and say I had eaten at least 25 points worth of food.
I clearly remember bragging to my friends in the cafeteria that I had lost five pounds in one week, so I know that it can work for young people. But is that really the kind of conversation kids in middle school should be having?
Doing Weight Watchers never lasted very long for me, but the idea that I had I had to lose weight stuck with me. It was the beginning of my unhealthy relationship with food. I would practically starve myself, controlling what I ate in a way that would manipulate the weight and shape of my body. And then I would give up for a little while and go the opposite direction. Sometimes I stopped because I felt like I was starving. Sometimes I was depressed and miserable so I thought that junk food would make me feel better. Sometimes I was upset because despite eating so little I was still not happy with the results. I would never be skinny enough. I would “fall” and eat all the dessert and carbs that I wanted and missed so badly. But all the while I felt like it was a sin. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was worth less for my weight and my weakness.
I know that there are plenty of people who find strength in controlling their dietary habits and I commend you for finding what works for you. Being healthy and taking care of what goes into your body is an important thing and I don’t mean to shame that. However, I would argue that being skinny and muscular is not the most important thing in life and it absolutely does not make you a better person.
Let’s be honest- my husband and I will probably have kids that are larger than average because that’s the way that we are. I already worry about friends, strangers, and the media making them feel self-conscious or not good enough. But I know that I will love them and teach them to be proud of their strong bodies. Of course I will try to teach them healthy habits and have healthy meals while they are young. But I will also let them be children. I will still feed them pizza and ice cream on their birthdays and encourage them to listen to their bodies. I never want them to think that they are fat or ugly or worth less than their skinny siblings or friends. I want my children to be children and most of all I want them to be grateful for and proud of their bodies, no matter how different they are from the other kids.