We live in a time where messages are flying at us from every corner imaginable. Billboards, magazines, radio stations, social media; even the words and images strewn across the clothing we shop for. Good or bad, we’re all being fed something wherever we turn.
And, unfortunately, we’re not the only ones. Our littlest members of society are also targeted in a special way.
While shopping in what she calls a popular department store, Mom and blogger Sonni Abatta spotted a lunch box that made her stomach turn. Situated in the children’s section, surrounded by other items geared towards kids, was a sequin-emblazoned pink and gold lunchbox with the words, “Cheat Day”.
Yes, we’re serious.
See this? This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl's lunchbox that I saw for sale at a popular department…
“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,” She shares on Facebook. “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 lunchbox.”
She goes on to talk about the things young girls and women are assaulted with from such an early age, while still wondering why body-image issues are rampant across the board.
“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,” she goes on. “Our world is telling our girls that it’s ‘cheating’ if they eat something that’s not 100 percent 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.”
Her words make me want to slow clap. Why in the world would a girl young enough to want to carry a lunchbox covered in sequins worry about a “cheat day”? In my home, we are in the thick of teaching our children about nutrition right now. My daughter is six. Food is a necessary tool that helps her body to grow stronger. It’s not the enemy, it’s not scary, and it’s not the key to beauty and acceptance.
Our girls’ relationship with food starts at such an early age: we are responsible for keeping that relationship healthy.
I’ve got to think that we are only perpetuating this problem. Do your children observe you as you observe your own body in the mirror? Do they hear you turning down a doughnut because “it’ll go straight to [your] thighs”? They’re taking it all in. They’re learning. This is a message to myself, too. Let’s be mindful.
Because Ms. Abatta says it better than I ever could, I’ll leave you with her parting words.
“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.
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. 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.”
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.