Just for the record, I love the Obamas. I couldn’t be more overjoyed that Barack Obama is our president, and I want him to be president forever. Everything he does and says makes me happy. At home, we play a drinking game: whenever someone says “President Obama,” take a drink. Only we don’t drink, we just smile at each other. And the smile says, I AM SO HAPPY THIS GUY IS OUR PRESIDENT AND I KNOW YOU ARE TOO. So, yeah. Team Obama, all the way.
However, if I can be a teensy bit critical here, I don’t think the Obamas should use their young daughters as poster children for the OMG CHILDHOOD OBESITY!!! crisis. I can’t cover this story any better than Rachel already did, but let me give you some of the highlights from her post.
Ever the role model, Michelle Obama invited cameras into the White House kitchen where only fresh food — nothing canned or processed — are prepared by the First Family’s chef. And in the November issue of Parents magazine, she and her husband described their decision to ditch juice boxes and processed foods. Their motivation? Malia was getting fat.
Improving the family’s diet is great — all families should be so lucky as the Obamas to be able to eat such a healthy diet, not to mention, have the luxury of a personal chef. Still I wonder how little Malia felt after her mother drastically changed and restricted the entire family’s diet all because she was getting a “little chubby.” I know from personal experience that being singled out in a family for weight is an emotionally crushing experience for a kid. My mother once announced at the dinner table that she was putting me and me alone on a diet, despite the fact that most of my family, including her, were (and still are) fat. I would find out much later that my mom was also teased about her weight in school and that she was probably just trying to shield me from the same harassment, but at the time, it had the opposite effect: I was determined to eat even more of the things she placed off-limits in a show of rebellion and bodily autonomy.
Add in a national spotlight and I can’t even begin to imagine the anvil-like pressures. How will these girls feel in having their diets broadcast in official White House press releases to a global audience, in effect, involuntarily thrusting them into the spotlight as anti-obesity role models? Has anyone even asked them what they think or feel about this? Will they be able to indulge in a cheeseburger without fear of judgment and condemnation from public food purists? Will tabloids and gossip mags turn their voyeuristic eye to them next, splashing their images on magazine covers while speculating on the perceived dips and spikes on their digital scales?
Rachel points out (and again, her entry is much more comprehensive than this) that one of the best things the Obamas could do is to take on the Farm Bill. That would serve them much better than making their kid’s weight a topic of national conversation.
Posted by mo pie