Friday, October 9, 2009


In September, Judith blogged about her experience at her son's open house. She was pleasantly surprised by the physical education teacher who talked about his emphasis on celebrating body size diversity, and his intolerance of students making negative comments about weight. Voicing how impressed she was by the physical education teacher, and how rare and needed his perspective was, her husband had wondered aloud if there weren't a lot of teachers out there promoting the idea that people come in different shapes and sizes.

I thought I'd tell you about my experience at my son's high school open house this past week. My son is a senior, and after sitting in with his teachers in classes like AP Calculus, Statistics and Robotics, I was looking forward to meeting with his gym class where I figured my heart wouldn't race so much, being that I'm a bit math and science phobic.

Minutes into the physical education teacher's presentation, my heart was racing and my pulse quickening much more intensely than talk about Chi Squares and derivatives. He talked about the activities they would be focusing on throughout the year, and the importance of instilling in the students the need for both physical activity and nutrition...wait for make sure they don't become victim to the "Freshman 15" at college, that they stay thin, and that they fear gaining any weight because obesity is the leading cause of death in this country.

Now, I'm all for good nutrition and physical activity for the sake of health and a positive sense of well-being, enjoyment and pleasure. But this came from a place of fearing fat, and the inaccurate notion that obesity is the biggest killer in the country. I wanted to gather up all of the research and introduce the physical education teacher to the statistics teacher so that the gym teacher could see that he was spreading inaccurate research and faulty conclusions.

I don't think my sister, Judith, and I engage in too much sibling rivalry, but boy, did I envy her son and his physical education teacher!

As the gym teacher was concluding his short talk, he announced that we should support the student council by visiting the the bake sale in the cafeteria and purchasing some baked goods. Walking out, a parent said to me, "I'm upset by that talk." As I was about to launch in with my thoughts and join him in his concern, he continued, "He was right about kids needing to lose weight and stay thin, but then he blows it by telling us to buy something at the bake sale. That's not going to help our children lose weight."

I thought of launching into obesity and diet myths, sitting this man and the physical education teacher down and talking with them about HAES and about attuned eating. But honestly, that night I just didn't have the energy. Instead, I thought about how much my son loves chocolate covered strawberries, which they had at the bake sale, and I bought him some instead. That act itself slowed my pounding heart. Coming home that night, my son happily biting into a chocolate covered strawberry, I told him about the open house, about what it was like meeeting his teachers, sitting in his classrooms. When I started to tell him about the physical education teacher he said, "Oh, I meant to warn you about that. The whole Freshman 15, huh?" I shook my head yes. "Maybe I should give him your book," he said. When I smiled at him he said, "Are you hungry for something sweet? Do you want a strawberry?" And I smiled at him and took a big, juicy bite!


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