Wednesday, August 16, 2006

False advertising

Coming home from my volunteer gig at the prison last night, I heard a commercial on the radio that I promised myself I wouldn't forget about because I wanted to write about it this morning. Perhaps my mental faculties are suffering; I prefer to think it's the ad agency at fault, because I can't remember the advertiser.

[First, an aside: Last week when I was off getting married and unable to attend my Tuesday night AA meeting at the prison, the other volunteers passed a card around the meeting for the women to sign. They gave it to me last night and of course I got a little verklempt when I read it. They're all so happy for Mr. Shrinking Knitter and me.]

Okay, back to "bidness."

I do remember the premise of the commercial. A young girl is describing how she used to hate seeing photos of herself because she was so big, bigger than all the other kids. Thanks to whatever the advertiser was pushing, she looks great in her latest team picture.

What struck me is that when I was a fat child, it never occurred to me to wail about how bad I looked in photos. That seems to be more of an adult concern.

I started gaining weight when I was 10 or 11, and our family moved to a house across the street from a little grocery store. I spent all my allowance on candy, and I was bigger than all my friends. I developed an insatiable sweet tooth, fed by my friend Gretchen's mother's after-school brownies, my own mother's cake-mix creations and whatever confections I could buy with my very own money.

I hated that I couldn't keep up in gym class. I hated that we had to buy clothes from the "chubby" department. I hated being teased and I hated being ignored by boys. [Except the ones who wanted to know if my best friend liked them.]

So the radio ad hit me the wrong way. And it was on a sports talk station; I doubt their target audience is going to care about or act on the dilemma presented in the commercial. But maybe that was the only market the advertiser could afford.

The "childhood obesity epidemic" is certainly a big news story, and it's interesting that commercials are now aiming at the problem. A Scottish newspaper headline offers this sage advice:
Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

Anyway, my point is that the commercial felt off-kilter to me. Did you hate looking at photos of yourself as a child? Or did you start hiding in the back row or avoiding the camera altogether only as you got older?

Another news story [not specifically about childhood obesity], this one from the United Kingdom, claims that overweight people now outnumber hungry people. The author uses the term "undernutrition" – "The reality is that far more obesity than undernutrition exists …" – and I wonder if that term is replacing malnutrition. I don't believe that every obese person is properly nourished. Particularly if their idea of a vegetable is a large order of fries or a bag of potato chips. Is 'undernutrition' a new politically correct term?

Two words for DJ Steveboy: I surrender. The workout I chose, at 180 beats per minute, was far more than I could handle. I'm so glad he offers, as Lynette recommended in the comments, some less-intense options, and I'll be downloading one or two of those tonight. Sheesh! Talk about biting off more than you can chew! What was I thinking?

And to Kate, who suggested perhaps walking and knitting could be done at the same time, I have done that in the past. One particular treadmill session comes to mind. I can highly recommend the old Paton's Kroy sock yarn as sturdy, durable and able to withstand the internal roller bars of the machine. I can't say as much for the 12-inch Addi Turbo needle, but I'm sure it wasn't meant to be tortured in treadmill innards.

When I knit and walk outside, I tend to do both more slowly than I do when I concentrate on one or the other. And since I'm trying to run more than I walk, I think I'll leave the knitting on the couch. I've gotten more than six inches of the back done since I cast on Monday morning, so it's coming along much faster than I thought it would.

Maybe because it's not as wide as it would have been a year ago?


Vickie said...

WHen you were little - when I was little, I would agree that kids did not worry about size (as much) unless they were substantially bigger than everyone else.


Kids today are VERY aware of their size - yes, even at a young grade school level. Media probably - think how much more TV, Movies, games kids today see. They seem to be much more aware of everything in general.

Shauna said...

profound findings from the Daily Record!

i love the idea of walking/knitting at the same time... classic stuff :)

jen said...

I WAS hyper-aware of my weight and everyone else's weight when I was a kid. Oddly, I wasn't a fat kid -- looking at pictures, I was very normal -- 1970s normal, not 2000s normal -- but I was sure that I was and that I needed to diet. I had a little-girl belly and I thought that meant I was fat.

My family was very weight-conscious. I had a very thin mom and a dad who was fat and unhappy about it, and I'm sure that was probably a big part of the centrality of this issue to my 7-year-old self.

MS said...

I've been lurking on and off for a while, but I haven't posted until now. Firstly, THANK YOU for sharing your journey with us! Secondly, CONGRATS on your nuptials.

And thirdly, "malnutrition" is a term that encompasses both "overnutrition" and "undernutrition". I've taken all of one college-level nutrition class in my life, so I'm definitely not an expert, but I do remember making mental note of the terminology when I read it in my textbook.

Greta said...

I was a very skinny child because my Mother chose the portion sizes for everyone in the family. There were no seconds. We were not allowed to spend our own money on treats without permission and permission was hard to get. My Mother kept a box of Night and Day licorice on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard and about once a week we were allowed to choose ONE piece which we could eat. A neighbor mother had a "candy drawer" in her kitchen which was wide and deep and filled with goodies. Our Mother called that neighbor Mom and told her that when she handed out candy to all the neighbor kids, that we (mt sister and I) were not allowed to have any. I remember, however, that when we were in 8th grade, our gym teacher weighed everyone in our class, male and female, on a doctor's scale with the sliding weight. I was skinny but still found it traumatic. The teacher publicly humiliated the one girl in our class who was overweight. I still remember that the girl weighed 144 pounds which we all found shocking at that time. However, I was pained at her public humiliation over something which I am sure that she could not control. Every gym class after that, the gym teacher would say something to that girl. The irony was that the gym teacher herself was quite fat...probably 250 pounds.

stretchy said...

You sound like Johnny Cash... Prison Gigs.

I can't picture walking and knitting at the same time...

Tori said...

Wow, timely piece. Oprah's rerun today was about (extremes I hope) 3-4 year olds with body image issues. Very true about excercising more and eating less. This hit home a bit. I'm a Music Together teacher and we tell the parents they are the role models as far as music making. I'm going to have to get out more and exercise to be a good role model for excercise for my child.
Last but not Least, Congratulations!