Is There Any Such Thing As A Skinny Cow?
by Risa Green
Ever since my daughter was born, I have been vigilant about safeguarding her body image. Words like “calorie,” “fat,” and “diet” were banned from our house, as was the bathroom scale. My husband and I made a pact that we would not refer to foods as good or bad, but instead would talk about them as being healthy or unhealthy. I stopped keeping fashion magazines lying around the house, and when I get dressed or look in the mirror, I am always careful not to criticize myself out loud if my daughter is within earshot – no offhand comments about my how big my butt looks in my jeans, or how flabby my arms seem in certain shirts. But as much as I have tried to shield her from the cold, cruel world that women inhabit when it comes to their bodies, I have always known there would come a day when I couldn’t protect her any longer. It seems that day is now.
I always imagined that her awareness of the “thinner is better” mentality would derive from the inescapable images of impossibly skinny girls on billboards looming over the streets, and magazine covers at the supermarket. Or, perhaps it would be a friend who introduced her to the idea of hating one’s thighs, or coveting someone else’s. But never, in a million years, did I imagine that it would come from right inside my own home. I was way too careful for that. And yet…there it was. The ever-present diet aid television commercial.
Have you ever paid attention to the commercials that run during seemingly innocuous, innocent, family programs? It is all about dieting. Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers. Supplements whose weight-loss claims have not been verified by the FDA. You name a diet, and I can promise you, it is being advertised during any number of shows that a seven year-old girl might like to watch. Food Network Challenge? Yup. Jon and Kate Plus 8 (before the affair – when it was still appropriate for children)? Yup. Deal or No Deal? You betcha. Now granted, I realize that these shows are not intended for children, and I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t run these ads just because impressionable young minds might be watching. I’m just saying that I, personally, have always been so busy worrying about whether the content of a television show was appropriate for my daughter, that I never paid any attention to the content of the commercials that run in between them. Oops. My bad.