Maybe its, like, okay that some children are fat.
I know that seems like an outrageous suggestion, even to some proported Fat Acceptance allies who still wring their hands at all these little fat kids they hear about, but maybe we can try just being okay with that. Maybe we can all try to give that a shot, because flipping out over fat children hasn't exactly been a very productive strategy. So maybe we can "think of the children" and stop creating a culture that teaches them shame and self-loathing at earlier and earlier ages.
When someone protests that they are fine with fat adults, but fat children are a natural nightmare, I have to suspect that they aren't really fine with fat adults. They've just decided they'll tolerate our fatness through gritted teeth. Gee, thanks. But fat children? Oh, gosh no. We have to stop them while we still have time or else!
Or else, what, exactly?
Maybe we can stop regarding fat children as victims of their bodies. Maybe we can stop teaching that to those children and to the children around them. Maybe we stop having campaigns with militaristic language that send the message that their bodies are wrong and must be changed. Maybe we stop instructing them on shame and encouraging other children to enforce that shame.
Maybe we stop absolving ourselves from these outcomes by medicalizing those childrens' bodies. Maybe we stop flattering ourselves for our good intentions while we subject kids to scorn and resentment, from their families, their peers, and themselves. Maybe we recognize that telling children to stop being so fat will stigmatize fat bodies. Maybe we realize that those bodies are likely to remain fat, so that message will be powerfully destructive.
Maybe we start teaching all children to love their bodies as they are. Maybe we start teaching them that its okay to be fat or thin, short or tall, average or not. Maybe childrens' programming can start reflecting body diversity in their child actors without an intention to scold those with transgressive bodies.
Maybe we encourage children to develop relationships with eating that are unburdened with shame and self-doubt. Maybe we teach children that its okay to eat. Maybe we encourage them to think of all food as being okay. Maybe we don't make broccoli a chore, but let them enjoy it. Maybe we don't make candy something forbidden and wrong, but something that will invigorate their body and spirit in moderation.
Maybe we let all children discover the possibilities of their own bodies instead of defining them all by rigid standards. Maybe they can be guided to find the play and movement that will sustain them for years. Maybe we can teach them that if they can't do something, that its not their fault and it doesn't have to limit them, but rather point the way to new opportunities to have a positive relationship with their bodies.
Maybe we can impart these lessons without telling children the goal is to have thin bodies. Maybe we can develop these behaviors and judge success by positive and healthy attitudes towards their bodies, towards food, towards movement and play. Maybe we can turn away judging progress by having a body that is smaller and more conventionally expected.
Maybe we can seriously respond to bullying and fat shaming both from other children and from adults. Maybe we can renounce rhetoric that blames fat children for economic woes, for the federal budget deficit, for the the state of our national security, and for environmental damage. Maybe we can stop blaming fat children at all and maybe we can stop trying to find things to blame for fat children.
Maybe if a child is fat, that can be okay.
But maybe that's too radical of an idea.