Will Weight Watcher's New App Actually Teach Kids About Nutrition?
I was not overweight as a child, but I had my first period at 9 years old and grew breasts and hips so fast that I had stretch marks. I was uncomfortable with my body, especially since most of the other girls didn’t have curves yet at that age. Boys paid attention to me and I hid as much as I could in baggy clothes. Fashion models like Kate Moss were popular and that was so incredibly different than the way I was built. I felt fat, though looking back, I realize I was not.
My mom tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and bought diet soda and Lean Cuisine meals. The low fat, low calorie, low everything options were always in our house. My parents never told me I was fat and though my dad teased me about my “thunder thighs,” it was with love. I started dieting probably around 12. I’d get on the elliptical trainer we had in our home and go for hours. I’d try to eat nothing but rice cakes. I was determined to lose weight. Somehow, my parent didn’t notice I was doing this, but they worked long hours and I was a latch-key kid often home alone.
When I got to be a teenager, I sometimes went on binges. At lunch, I was free to eat anything I wanted in the cafeteria, and I’d get tater tots and Nestle Crunch ice cream bars. But then I’d feel so guilty that I wouldn’t eat anything else all day.
There was no one thing that made me this way. No one ever called me fat. No one ever said I needed to diet. But I still thought I had to look a certain way. And no matter how I ate, I was never gonna be Kate Moss.
I have conflicted feelings about a Weight Watchers app for teens. My first reaction is that it seems wrong, because teens are already so sensitive about their bodies. But part of me thinks it would be a good tool if it actually taught them the RIGHT way to eat. That it’s not all or nothing, that it’s everything in moderation. Food should be treated as fuel for our bodies. People will be faced with these choices their whole lives, so if it’s done in a way so as not to make them feel ashamed of their bodies, maybe it could be a really good thing. We are living in a world where childhood diabetes is a real problem. There was no such thing when I was a kid. Now it’s everywhere. We all should be educated on food and exercise. I wish I’d had more sense when I was younger.