My spring break is winding down. It’s been nice, but I think it has further confirmed for me that I have a “Type A” personality. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing for days on end. So, while I have enjoyed the extra time to sleep, read, blog, and work out, I will be glad to return to my normal routine on Monday.
Since I had extra time, I got my hair done yesterday. I was blonde as a kid, dyed my hair dark, dark brown at 13, went back to blonde around 15ish, and have been some shade of blonde since then. For this appointment, I was planning on getting my usual blonde color, a trim off the ends and a bangs trim.
Well, before I left, Daniel asked what my “hair plan” was and I told him. He said he would like to see my natural hair color someday. I realized that I have not truly known what my natural color is since I was 12. I told him I would think about it. Then, during the drive to the salon, I decided I would ask the hair dresser to dye my whole head whatever color my roots were.
She examined my roots, broke out the color swatches and told me my natural hair color is now brown. Yes, I am no longer a natural blonde. A little sad to learn, but oh well. I told her to go with it.
The dye needed to be in my hair 30 minutes or so. While I was waiting, my hair dresser offered me free wine.
I’m not a huge wine fan, but I have learned one thing since turning 21: IF YOU ARE OFFERED FREE BOOZE, YOU DO NOT PASS IT UP.
When the cutting and dying process was finished, I was quite pleased with the results:
I decided this shade will be my new “normal” color, until I change my mind again
So, there’s that story. The next thing I wanted to share is an article I found via Reddit called, “Help: My daughter is seven. And I found this in her room.” I highly recommend reading the article, it’s not too long. But, summarized, it’s about a mother who finds this note written by her young daughter on the floor of her daughter’s room:
It’s a diet (or, “diyet”) plan written by a 7-year-old; saying things like, eat “3 appals” and “rid my bike 3 time a day.”
The mother responded by being very concerned. She wondered how her daughter learned the word “diet” (turns out it was from a friend at school) and started crying. She then expresses her anger toward a vanity-obsessed society, which I totally agree with (bolded emphasis is mine):
“F*ck you society. F*ck you and your and stupid obsession with women and the way they look.
How dare you sneak into my home with your ridiculous standards and embed them in my little girls head, polluting her innocence with your pathetic ideals.
Jog/run up and down the driv way three times.
Your unrealistic expectations will not win in my house.
I am tired of the beauty and body obsessed arena we live in. I am tired of women being portrayed as objects to be saluted and admired or shunned and shamed depending on whether they measure up to societies idealistic standards. I am tired of the conformist attitudes. And then, because I was so tired (and sad, so sad) that I cried.”
The mom then says when her daughter got home, they had a discussion about what being healthy really means, body image, etc.
When reading this story, I was sympathetic to the mom and was on her side from the get-go. That child shouldn’t be worrying about being on a strict diet and exercise routine. It’s not explicitly stated in the note, but a 7-year-old should not already be experiencing body image issues. I posted a link to this story on Facebook.
It never occurred to me that the mom may have been overreacting, or that it may be good that the child was wanting to diet and exercise, but some of my friends shared that opinion. Here are some of their comments:
“Ummm… I feel like children that age shouldn’t be on diets, but I don’t see a problem with a child understanding how to stay healthy… I didn’t see anything on that list that was unhealthy. (Unless of course that’s all she’s eating.) With the amount of people not eating any fruits/veggies and the amount of children staying inside instead of playing I think maybe we need to have more kids keeping track of their fitness and health.”
Hmm, hadn’t thought of that. Another similar sentiment:
“This mother unfortunately represents a lot of misguided adults who think the purpose of a diet is to look sexy and get laid. A diet is actually a method for taking care of ones body. There is no reason why you shouldn’t teach a child to do this.
There is a serious endemic of childhood obesity going on right now in the United States. The three culprits I hear about all the time are television, parents, and our school system
The first thing I assumed when I saw this little girl’s note is that her school is trying to tackle the issue of childhood obesity and instill values of health consciousness, exercise, and good eating habits in children. That’s reasonable.
This mother jumped to some nasty and unfair conclusions and could use a little education herself.”
I enjoyed hearing those viewpoints. There were also comments from friends who took the side of the concerned mother:
“It’s not about what was on the list so much as the idea behind it that’s disturbing. The fact that she’s 7 and feels the need to worry about it is worrying to say the least. It’s not natural and shows that she’s been brainwashed by someone, something, or, as seems to be implied, American culture in general. That being said, looking at the facts we’re the 2nd fattest country behind Australia and maybe health education should be taught earlier and with more effort.”
“The problem is the mental concept of a ‘diet’ as a regimented way to get towards an end. That isn’t healthy.
Over 50% of 12 year olds have had their MOTHERS ask if they’d like to go on a diet with them (not start a healthier lifestyle, but a temporary ‘diet’, which leads to a statistically significant increase in the rate of eating disorders among young women). The primary issue is how people conceptualize ‘dieting’ vs a ‘diet’ (i.e. the longterm patterns of the way one eats); the former is restrictive and regimented, whereas the latter, at least among healthy kids, should be intuitive (provided they have healthy food available to them, as this family sounds like it does). This girl is too young to fully understand what she’s doing, as most of the girls who get roped into diets are, but it will become ingrained (or, it would have, had it not been addressed). Self-reflection is virtually absent in the way our society conceptualizes *health* (not weight or appearance, but *health*) and almost everything we feed our minds about our body is external, rather than, “how does sitting on the couch make me *feel* vs going for a run or lifting weights?” or “how does fast food make me *feel* vs a healthy, homecooked meal?”
tl;dr: Excessive regimentation of health is bad, especially among healthy children (and ESPECIALLY among young women, who are at a much higher risk for eating disorders).”
This was my response to the comments:
“I guess the thing about this is that we don’t know the 7-year-old’s motive. Was she simply trying to be healthier, or was she only wanting to start a diet for vanity reasons? The fact that she uses the word “diet” makes me think the latter. When I was in elementary, middle and high school, when we would learn how to be healthy we learned about eating well and exercising. But I don’t remember hearing “You should go on a diet…” “Diet” seems to connotate not healthy eating overall, but things like The Atkins Diet, The Southbeach Diet, etc. But maybe I’m not remembering correctly or maybe things have changed since I was in school.”
Ah, the internet. Not *just* a medium for sharing Harlem Shake videos and funny cat pics, but also a forum for stimulating discussion.
In the spirit of stimulating discussion, I’d like to know what you think. Was the mother of the 7-year-old overreacting, or justified in her concerns? Do you think the child really wanted to get healthy, or was she taking a more looks-driven approach? There are no right or wrong answers, so throw your two cents in!