Please, Please, Please Do Not Get A Weight Loss App For Your Kids

Oh, great, there’s a new weight loss app for kids. That’s awesome. I know I would’ve loved that when I was a kid.

You know what was the best thing about my childhood? Everything that didn’t have to do with being hyper-aware of my weight and what food I was or wasn’t “supposed” to eat. Like, seriously, everything else. I loved school, I was in community theatre, I took art classes, I played dress-up with my sister, I listened to music, my family went to museums, we road tripped, I had awesome adventures with my friends. But I was very tall, kind of stocky (genetically), and overweight on top of that. Not extremely overweight, just chubby. But it was treated like a fucking crisis, both by my parents and doctors and by my peers, who called me the Pillsbury Dough Girl, poked my stomach, and then got mad at me when I didn’t accordingly feel like going “hm-hmmm!”

Among other things. “Other things” meaning relentless bullying. Being chubby and disinclined to play sports, the thin, soccer-playing “popular girls” ragged on me all the time. Boys called me “fat” and “ugly.” I became more socially awkward and more attached to my misfit band of friends. I was reminded constantly, in tiny little ways, every single day, that I was bigger than I was supposed to be and there was something wrong with me for it. That was the programming I received when I was a kid, and so now as an adult I’m having to de-program the assumption that no matter what I’m doing, there’s always something wrong with me.

Which is just great. I totally recommend that you direct your children toward the incredibly expensive Kurbo Health app so that they can basically Weight-Watchers their way through life starting when they’re five. Because I know that it did me a world of good to become aware of dieting when I was in grade school and stayed focused on it for twenty more years. I know that didn’t lead to having a neurotic indulgence-avoidance cycle with food.

Do I sound bitter? I probably am. I just hate the idea that kids need to have food removed from the normal course of their days and made into a fixation, something to which you have to apply an app in order to be able to manage it. It’s food, for god’s sake. We have to eat it. I wish we’d stop telling people (and kids in particular), in one way or another, not to eat.

I’m aware that, supposedly, a third of children are overweight or obese. But if being “overweight” can be attributed to bone, muscle, fat, or water, what does it even mean? Over what weight? My body is 24.8 percent fat right now. Am I overweight by the CDC’s standards because I could stand to have less body fat? And if so, then what difference does it make? I ran 20 miles straight last week. If I’m overweight simply by measure of “having excess body fat,” then it has no bearing on my fitness or my quality of life. I’m not the only person who can say that, by a long shot.

Parents, for the love of god, even if you can afford this app, don’t buy it. Let food be communion. Let it be a joyous thing that your kids share with people they love. Let them learn how to manage it intuitively, learn to love it, and learn to love themselves.

[The Daily Dot]

[Image via me. Yeah, I was that cute.]