Mom Goes On Facebook Rant After Discovering Cheat Day Lunchbox For "Children"
We live in a world where the pressure to look good is greater than ever before. From the moment we wake up the morning until the second we finally put our smartphones down for the night, we are bombarded with images of ideals on social media from our friends and celebs alike. After all, no one wants to upload a selfie looking anything less than "fire".
While social media has spawned the Body Positivity Movement, which encourages people to love the skin that they're in. Many proponents of it have tried to change the face of social media for the better: sharing pictures of themselves without makeup on, embracing their belly rolls (which are adorable btw) and anything else that makes them different.
While most social media websites require people to be at least 13 years old before joining, many sign up when they're much younger, and even before they're old enough to get access to the internet, they're still surrounded by ideals on the likes of the TV, magazine covers, and even when it comes to toys like the impossibly thin and big busted Barbie.
That's why parents have to ensure that they instill a healthy attitude toward food in their children. Otherwise, as has been the case for far too many people, they could develop an eating disorder. Childhood is, after all, supposed to be a carefree time. It's a chance to play and enjoy food without worrying about our waistlines - within moderation, of course.
Little girls, in particular, are at the greatest risk of developing an eating disorder, accounting for 89% of all cases, The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence estimates.
So when mom and blogger Sonni Abatta spotted a lunchbox in the children's section of a department store with a very problematic message on the front, she took to Facebook to explain how damaging this could be.
"We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self-worth, with confidence. THIS. This is part of the reason why," the concerned mother wrote alongside a picture of the lunchbox in question.
Here is the original post, unedited and in its entirety:
"See this? This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl's lunchbox that I saw for sale at a popular department store. Why do I say it's marketed toward little girls? It's pink, it has sequins and it was surrounded by other girls' merchandise. So, safe to say that it's aimed at our daughters.
I am SICKENED that this phrase is on a lunch box.
We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence.
We wonder, "Why do our girls worry so much about their bodies so young?" ... "Why does my five year old call herself 'fat?'" ... "Why does my middle schooler stand in front of the mirror and find all her flaws?"
THIS. This is part of the reason why.
Our world is telling our girls that it's "cheating" if they eat something that's not 100% fat-free and perfectly healthy. In turn, that tells them that self-control and denying herself is to be valued above all. And that if she dares to step outside of the foods that will keep her perfectly slim and trim, then she is by default "cheating" and needs to feel some sense of remorse.
Look, I'm not saying a diet of strictly sugar and chips is right either; but by God, why would a company ever pile onto our girls' already-fragile senses of self by making her feel as though she's "cheating" by eating something that's--gasp--not made of vegetables and air?
"You're overreacting!" you might say. To which I say, No. We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls.
Can you imagine a similar message directed toward little boys? For the record, I'd be equally offended... but I haven't seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look.
So here's what I want to say, and what I will tell my girls. Girls--you are not "cheating" when you enjoy good food. You are not "cheating" when you eat pizza. You are not "cheating" when you have a cookie, or two, on occasion. You are not "cheating" when you live in moderation and allow yourself things that make you happy.
Girls--you are MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions. More than the clothes you wear and the things you buys and the other girls you hang out with.
You are beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and whole beings--whole beings who are worthy of so much love and respect, no matter what anyone, or anyTHING, says."
Sonni's post went on to garner a considerable amount of attention on the social media website, with many parents using it as an opportunity to open up about how society's emphasis on skinny is damaging their children.
One mom recounted an incident where a seventh grader explained that she'd allowed herself to have a cheat day:
Another explained that their step-daughter's obsession with her weight has now spiraled to the point where she is regularly weighing herself and using a Fitbit - despite the fact that she's only nine years old.
However, some commenters made a point of stressing that these unrealistic body standards can affect people of all ages.
The eating disorder charity Mirror Mirror reports that a growing number of very young children are being diagnosed with eating disorders, and because they are at such crucial points in their development, this can have serious long-term consequences.
Girls with eating disorders can, for example, fail to menstruate because their body is simply too weak to do it.
However, not all social media users believed that Sonni's post was as problematic as it first appeared to be, with many pointing out that this lunchbox was a part of a collection that's clearly "marketed towards adults".
This was followed up by proof that the designers had no intent of the lunchbox being used by children:
In light of this revelation, the post was still deemed problematic by some who pointed out that the concept of cheat days is still damaging, regardless of whether or not it is marketed towards adults.
After the market for the lunchboxes became clear, Sonni edited her original post to give it more context:
"UPDATE: Some people have written to say they believe the lunch box is made for women, not girls. Few things: First, this was surrounded by other lunch boxes and gummy snacks. As you can see, above it is another light pink and small lunch box. To me, that seems like it's for girls. Second, it's pink with gold sequins. Even if the label doesn't explicitly say 'girls,' you're going to say that this isn't meant to appeal to them? And third: Even if it was supposed to be marketed only toward women and the store just decided to place it with other items that seemed very 'young girl' in nature, still kinda sucks. So to all my grown-up 'girls,' you aren't cheating either when you enjoy life a little. xo"