Turns out there is something more rotten than those pumpkins that will soon be melting down your front steps, and they're called "anti-obesity fliers."
Yeah, anti-obesity fliers. Those are a thing now, courtesy of "Cheryl," a concerned resident of Fargo, North Dakota, who called her local radio station, WRIG, to explain her plan for attacking the childhood obesity crisis this Halloween, and it's a doozy. A rotten pumpkin doozy.
See, Cheryl has decided that she's now the fat police of Fargo. If your trick-or-treater doesn't meet Cheryl's height/weight restrictions, he or she will be handed a stern letter about how obese children should not consume sugar in place of that fun-size Snickers bar, because that's what nice people do to little kids on Halloween. Yeah, she's awesome.
As ill-advised as I find her plan, I'll give Cheryl the benefit of the doubt here, though, and say perhaps her plan was hatched in real concern for the childhood obesity epidemic. But even if intentions were indeed noble, there are a few concerns that I, as a parent, have with Cheryl's anti-obesity plan.
The main concern? Her plan flat-out sucks, and it's not going to work because it's fat-shaming.
But let's dig a little deeper on this one, shall we? Let's go past the obvious plan-sucking, and look at the hazards of handing out anti-obesity letters in place of candy this Halloween. Because yeah, it's an awful idea, and even if for some strange reason Cheryl's plan makes total sense to you, you really shouldn't follow suit. Especially if you like your car windows sans egg.
Here are five reasons you should never, ever hand out anti-obesity letters to random children, ever. Ever.
5. You say tomato, I say tomaaaahto. The kid may not actually be obese. Or hey! They may have some sort of medical issue that's none of your fat-shaming business. Rational thought, I know. It's so hard to commit to. But you, Cheryl, are not a doctor -- and even if you are, which I highly doubt, you are not my child's doctor -- and therefore should not be doling out medical opinion disguised as concern. There are plenty of parameters in which you are not qualified to judge a child's overall health, especially if it's based on your eyeballing of their body fat percentage.
Oh, and God forbid the kid has a medical condition in which his little belly or body doesn't show much muscle tone. I mean, are kids with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy exempt from your judgment of their obesity, or are they also included in this sham? Perhaps you can also hand out medical pamphlets on their specific conditions too, in case those parents aren't adequately educated? Y'know, cause you're all medical genius and stuff.
4. You weren't invited to be a provide input on my parenting plan, even if you think you know what's best. My child didn't come out of your uterus, and therefore he or she doesn't belong to you. I know you seem to think your village is raising my child, as you so clearly stated in your fat-shaming letter to my 7-year-old, but no uterus, no vote on how much -- or little -- candy they get this Halloween. That's my job, and I'll decide based on what I have decided is best for them, not what you have imposed on them.
3. Your "concern" is likely to do real damage to real kids. Causing body image issues should be an equal concern for you. Your letter could do real damage to my child, and you won't be the one cleaning up the pieces of your fat shaming. I will be, though, and your lack of concern for my child's well-being, outside of the parameters of "obesity," concern me.
Whether my kid is fat or thin is neither here nor there -- they're a kid, first and foremost -- and they are developing ideas about themselves that will impact the rest of their lives. Don't be the reason my daughter can't look in the mirror at 20.
If you don't want to give fat kids candy, shut your door, turn off your light, and go to bed. But don't shame little kids into body image issues because you're unhappy with yourself. It's not your job to screw up kids that you don't have to fix later on.
2. You have obviously forgotten one half of that whole trick-or-treat thing: the trick. And middle-school kids are vicious beasts, lady. Vicious beasts. Lady, you're brave if you're really thinking of following through on denying kids their candy on Halloween. I mean, you obviously must not like your car windows, or your house windows, or any of your decorations, because you're risking payback for those letters. Chubby middle-schoolers are like mini-adults with their egging aim.
Do you really want to unleash that beast? Dump the letters, hand out the candy, and save yourself a morning of cleaning up toilet paper and eggs. Trust me on this one.
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1. As vicious as those middle-schoolers are, pissed off parents of those kids deemed "obese" are bound to be worse. Parents are supposed to be the guard dogs of their kids, and handing out notes that condemn or shame a kid is a sure way to set them off into pit bull mode. Kids -- especially those that fall into the average age of trick-or-treaters -- are perfect in their parent's eyes. Do you really want to light that damn fuse?
And you think those middle-school kids have good aim? Just try to stop the parent of that little round Cinderella you just handed an obesity note to. Those eggs will be a'hurlin', and it's just not worth the risk, to the kid or to your personal property. It's not worth the risk.
At the end of the day, it's not your business to label kids as fat, Cheryl from Fargo, North Dakota. They get that enough. They get the label from commercials, advertisements, and their favorite TV shows. They earn it on the playground, and unfortunately, sometimes they hear it at home. It causes real issues as they grow and develop, and there are already too many kids who have eating disorders as it is. Being deathly ill from malnutrition is no better than having high cholesterol and a gut. Trust me.
So ease up on 'em, and the name-calling, too. You aren't their peer group, but you're acting like a bully nonetheless. You took a bad idea and ran with it, and it's a shame that it's in the news. But it's not too late to rescind that bad idea and save not only some poor kid's self-esteem, but your car windows as well. Egg is hard as hell to scrape off.