My mind is still spinning from the story I heard this morning about a woman in Fargo, North Dakota, who told a local radio station that she plans to “trick” obese children in her hometown by giving them “warning letters” about their weight, instead of “treats” of the normal candy variety tomorrow night.
The text of the letter is directed at parents and says, “Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sweets and treats to the extent of other children this Halloween season.”
This woman further states, “I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight. … I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just ’cause all the other kids are doing it.”
The thought sends me immediately back to my own chubby childhood when I was the brunt of a lot of jokes and ridicule because of my weight. A stunt like this would not have motivated me as a child. It would have mortified me! It would have forced me further into the secret world of snacking behind closed doors and urged me towards a lower self-esteem and self-worth.
I want to ask this woman who does she think she is? And what gives her the right to impose this kind of indictment on children that aren’t even hers’? And does she realize that she can’t accurately assess the “health” of a child based solely upon a cursory glance at the door? There are “skinny fat people” walking around all over the place! Skinny does not necessarily equate to healthy!
Don’t get me wrong — I totally agree that the obesity epidemic in America has hit all new heights; especially in our kids. And I don’t believe that Halloween or other candy-center holidays do anything to help refocus our minds and our habits on healthy choices. But I don’t believe that cruelty to children is going to do anything to cure childhood obesity!
Rather than taking it upon herself to be the judge and jury for children in her North Dakota neighborhood, I would much prefer to see her hand out healthy nutritious snacks. Or here’s a novel idea —just don’t answer the door.
As parents (and adults in general) let’s be diligent about teaching the kids in our lives about nutrition and healthy choices. But as one who lived the roll of the fat kid, please do it constructively. Words have the power to bring life or death. Take that power seriously and use it responsively to affect a positive change in the lives of the children you have influence over.