Thursday, September 5, 2013

I could jump on the FYI bandwagon tonight...

Yesterday, my Facebook feed was positively littered with links to a certain blog post written by a Texas mother of four who wrote an open letter to all the slutty girls out there not wearing bras and taking selfies before they go to bed.  I could link to that post, but I don't see the point of doing that.  It's all over the Internet.

To be honest, I'm of a mixed mind about this woman's post.  I am generally not a fan of people taking slutty looking selfies.  If they are teenaged girls, I figure it's because they are caving to some kind of external message that they need to be "sexy" in order to be desirable.  I think that's sad, but I sort of understand it.  Growing up is hard.  Still, if I were a mother, that would not be something I'd want to encourage.  On the other hand, I don't think "slut shaming" is good, either.  I think it's best to encourage common sense.

Of course "Mrs. Hall" immediately made her post the subject of scorn when she included photos of her handsome sons in their bathing suits at the beach.  Her daughter was wearing a modest one piece tank suit and it looked like they were just having clean family fun.  But if you're going to be complaining about "scantily clad teenaged girls" who might give your sons boners, you ought not post photos of your boys dressed in a similarly scantily clad fashion.  Yes, I know that on the beach, it's perfectly acceptable to be wearing a bathing suit while most people don't think of pajamas or nighties as clothes you'd see in public.  But the fact is, we still see a lot of skin on those boys... and if your point is that girls need to cover up, you best take care with your photos.

Apparently, Mrs. Hall then thought better of it and posted another version of her post with photos of the kids covered up.  But the damage had already been done and lots of folks began posting rebuttals.  These days, America is pretty polarized when it comes to morality.  We have a lot of really religious folks out there who are trying to take back the country, as it were, and at least by my observations, seem to be taking things to extremes.  We also have a lot of folks who are proudly atheist and are also taking things to extremes.  The people in these two groups may not be as many strong as those of us in between, but they are very loud and some of them are very articulate.  Consequently, the Internet becomes inundated with viral posts that both speak to and repel people who identify with these two groups.

I have friends on both sides of the spectrum, so I've seen the FYI post for girls a number of times already.  I have also seen rebuttals and parodies.  I found the initial blog post hypocritical, smug, and ill-conceived... but I also understood where the mom was coming from, even if she came off as quite sanctimonious.

You know, the one thing that I really came away with is that I'm sort of glad I didn't have kids.  I wanted them, but raising kids is so complicated.  Even without the FYI blog post, there was an article about how overweight kids are having "fat letters"sent home.  Childhood obesity is no doubt a big problem, but shaming people is rarely the way to get them to reform.  And there are just so many reasons why people get fat.  Could be a simple issue of too many calories, not enough exercise.  Could be because the kid is lonely and eats to soothe emotional pain.  Could be because the kid is being bullied or abused by other kids, their parents, or someone else.

I just don't see how sending home a letter about the kid's BMI is the school's role.  Unless the school's staff is going to help the parents do something about the problem, I don't see why they are more qualified to "diagnose" obesity more than a medical professional is.  Medical professionals also have the added ability to determine how obesity is affecting the children in question.  Moreover, kids whose parents don't care aren't likely to care if they get a letter, though the kid probably will.

Of course, if the school sent home a letter about my BMI, my parents would have been embarrassed and would have taken it out on me.  I remember being in 9th grade and weighing about 115 pounds.  I was weighed in front of everyone and the coach made some comment about how I must have had a big lunch.  I was humiliated, even though now I realize that I was nowhere near fat at that point of my life.  I would love to be that weight today.  Maybe after I've been dead a few months...

I got a lot of "fat shaming" from my parents even when I wasn't overweight and struggled with fucked up eating habits for years.  I've reached a point at which I don't care as much as I used to, but the memories still hurt... and probably had a lot to do with why I was so old when I finally had a real relationship with a man.  Fortunately for me, he turned out to be a great guy who treats me like gold.  It could have easily gone the other way, though.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that there are an awful lot of people self-righteously sticking their noses where they don't belong.  Mrs. Hall's open letter may have resonated with a lot of people, but she probably should have addressed boys and girls, not just girls.  And she should have practiced her own counsel.  And the fat shaming asshats are not doing anything but making childhood more miserable with their letters home.  Adolescents are vulnerable, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to their self image.  Eating disorders are serious problems that can wreak havoc on those who  have them and those who love them.  

Childhood obesity is a problem.  Teen sex, especially when it leads to consequences like pregnancy or diseases, is a problem.  Something does need to be done about these issues.  I just don't think shaming is the way to go about it.  Growing up is tough enough.  

8 comments:

  1. I thought growing up when I did was hard, but with the way things go ugly and viral online like they do today, now I think I had a charmed childhood! :oD

    Never had weight problem myself, tho I did have bad front teeth (I think I kept on suckling that rubble sucker stuff a bit too long when I was really young) and remember the school health ed teacher laughing over my teach as she went through the class (and inspecting everyone's teeth). I'm rather shameless, tho, so I was more amused than anything. :oP Then a year or two later I got braced and that fixed the problem (I was actually more self-conscious with the brace than I was with my old crooked teeth!). :o)

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    1. I don't envy kids or parents these days. Everybody has an opinion.

      I had a gap between my teeth that I got temporarily fixed with braces. The gap came back. Luckily, I have good teeth and gaps are kinda in style now. I'm still a little self-conscious, though.

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  2. When my mom was a school district assitant superintendent, the higher level administrators had weekly "cabinet meetings." (If using that title to describe your weekly meetings that isn't taking yourself and your district a bit too seriously, i don't know what is. My mom cringed every time the term was used.) Every other week, school principals attended. the alternate weeks, it was just the head honcho, the three assistant superintendents, the director of psychological services, the director of curriculum, and the business manager, and the director of school health, AKA the "head" school nurse.

    It had been determined that something needed to be done in cases of obesity combined with extreme lack of fitness as evidenced by the semi-annual physical education testing results. I think it took something like eight "cabinet meetings" to iron out a compromise.

    managed through the school nursing staff (all of whom were RN/PHNs), height/weight ratios and extremely poor times on the mile or half-mile (different grades run different distances) walk/runs would red-flag a child for further evaluation. It was done discreetly. Children whose numbers fell within the average range, as well as the normal "control group" who really were involved just to disguise the intent were always pulled for this testing as well to avoid the "fat" connnection in the minds of children. Pulse and blood pressure were checked in resting states, then checked again afer a brisk fifteen-minute walk.

    The parents of those whose numbers - not just weight, but vitals and fitness scroes - were cause for concern were sent letters, but wieght was never specifically mentioned. It was merely recommended that the child's overall cardiovascular health was a concern to the health staff and it was recommended that an appointment to see the child's pediatrician or family physician be made. The distict offered to help parents to find low-cost options if lack of insurance or finances were a stumbling block. (Communication was sent to all area physicians so that they would know from where came the onslaught of requests for physicals if the parents actually took the letters seriously.)

    As privacy needed to be respected, the district could only guess the success rate, but it was estimated that 75% of parents followed up on the letters with medical appointments. This was an educated community.

    Ironically, some students in the "control" group ended up being referred, and some of the overweight kids were found to have healthy vitals and were not referred.

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    1. It sounds like your mom's district handled this issue with sensitivity, which is a good thing. It also sounds like your area is well-educated and relatively wealthy, which isn't necessarily the norm for most parts of the country. I think what set me off was watching the video that came with the article and hearing the teen girls talk about how those letters made them feel.

      I remember feeling like that as a teen and I wouldn't have gotten one of those letters. Even though there are a lot of heavy kids out there, it's still very stigmatizing to be overweight, especially when you're young. And unfortunately, not everyone has parents who want to help solve the problem. I love my parents, but they expected me to deal with most of my problems on my own. A letter like that would have embarrassed them and they would have expected me to do something about it.

      I don't have as big of an issue with a note going home about a child's cardiovascular health, as long as the screenings are done by people who are medical professionals and the flagging isn't simply because someone's BMI is off. To me, it just isn't the school's role to fat shame kids.

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  3. My mom knew that i wouldn't take what she said too seriously, so she had a yoiger hipper aunt talk to me about the whole picture situation.She told me a couple of years ago when I got a normal cell phone back that while my body was still somewhat childlike, I would, believe it or not, eventually physically mature. Without mentioning names, she told me of girls who were underage taking nude or scantily clad photos of themselves and how, in some cases, they sent the photos of themselves to others, resulting in legal conseqences. In other cases, she said, it jusr resulted in girls getting really skanky reputations. Boys were doing the same things, she said, and while the legal ramifications were the same, the social implications were not, however unfair that might have been. There was and still is a double standard. Her point was that utimately my body would develop to the degree that someone other than a pedophile would take more than a second look at a compromising photo of me. She said that taking such photos of oneself, or allowing one's friends to do so, could not possibly result in anything good. One might luck out and nothing might come of it, but that was a best-case scenario. Even if you're just taking it for yourself, she said, particularly with a cell phone, which is the normal way, somehow or other it was pretty easy for the compromising picture to find its way into other hands. Either a "friend" picks up your cell phone for just a few minutes and sends the picture to a few others, ot a person loses her cell phone or has it stolen, or a person is stupid enough to send it to just her boyfriend, who shares with lots of others. If the girl is a minor and nudity is involved, a crime has been committd by everyone found to be in possession of the picture, depending upon the state. If the girl isn't a minor, she gets a skanky reputation. While one outcome is clearly worse than the other, neither option is a good one.

    I actually listened because it wasn't my mom who told me this.

    Mrs. Hall should tell her sons not to look if seeing scantily clad girls in pictures causes hardness in their male members, and this is a problem to her. Then again, she could also butt out. My dad said there are two kinds of males: those who masturbate, and those who lie about it. Something's goingto cause the hall bys to get their jollies, whther it's the pictures of scantily cad girls or something else.

    I remember in one episode of "Keeping Up With the kardashians" 9I admit, much to my shame, that I've seen more than one episode0, Kourtney's cell phone had been stolen, nd it had footage of her having sex with her boyfriend as a teenager. One of the things she says was, "Everyone has sex with their boyfriend and tapes it when they're [in high school]" (The wordingmay be slightly off, but it's the gist of her comment.)No, Kourtney, not everyone has sex with their boyfriends and tapes it when they're in high school. For that matter, not everyone has sex with his or her boyfriend in high school meven without taping it.

    to the author of the one comment I've ever deleted from my blog, who is very unikely to find this comment here, but just in case she does, no, it isn't just because no one would have me that I didn't have sex while I was in high school. Even in my prepubescent state, I had opportunities. One guy wanted me so much, in fact, that he had two other girls hold me down so that he could rob me of my virginity, though he culdn't keep it up, so to speak.

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    1. That woman's blog post was really polarizing. It was interesting to see who identified with it and who thought it was rubbish. I have an interesting group of friends from all walks of life.

      Personally, I am glad I didn't have any sexual stuff going on when I was in school. I think sex complicates things and the vast majority of people are not prepared to handle that when they are very young. If I had kids, I would probably advise them to wait, not necessarily for moral reasons, but because sex can really complicate your life if you aren't ready for it.

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  4. I'm glad my life has been sex-free, voluntary or otherwise, up to this point. I don't think this year is necessarily a great time to get into a sexual relationship, either, even though it would be so easy with having a dorm room to myself.

    At some point when I'm 21 to 24 it will probably be time for me. I just hope I know when the time is really right.

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    1. Well, don't rush. There are many reasons I am glad I didn't have sex until I was married. There is only one reason I'm sorry I did wait and that's that I did always want kids. On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted a kid with anyone other than Bill. I'm happy not to have one with someone I can't stand.

      So yeah, for me it was good to wait. I would imagine given what you are about to undertake, it would be good for you to wait, too. But that's your business, of course.

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