10.16.2006

But I Love Cupcakes...

This truly makes me want to cry. The solution to childhood obesity is not banning birthday cupcakes. What sick, sick parent or administrator really believes that the best way to keep kids thin is to give them a school medal on their birthday instead of allowing them to bring cupcakes to share with the class?
Americans have an extremely unhealthy way of looking at food. I'm sure there are all kinds of intelligent and scholarly reasons why this is the case, but I have not researched the topic extensively, and make no claims to know a great deal about it.
What I do have is personal life experience, and observation. Food has a place in society that extends far beyond mere nourishment. Family traditions, gatherings of friends, special occasions; all are marked in some way with food. Everyone has food memories. The favorite drink you make with friends, the Thanksgiving turkey and murky peas from a can, the birthday cake, the pancake breakfasts on snow days; there is shared love and happiness and memories in these things.
But we live in a society where thinner is better, and where fast food is the only option for families on the run. So, while we turn up our noses at the food traditions that make us happy, and deny ourselves in the name of being svelte, we ignore the real problems.
Cupcakes are a school ritual; part of the fun of a birthday is the sugary goodness that comes with it. When school administrators and parents decide that they are going to deny their children cupcakes for birthdays, they set them up to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
A cupcake on someone's birthday isn't going to make kids fat. If they go home, and their parents were too busy working late to make a healthy dinner, so they feed the kids pizza five nights a week, that might make a kid fat. Or if they end up sitting inside playing video games all afternoon, and all day on the weekends, because their earliest babysitters were the TV and the computer, then maybe they'll get fat.
Childhood obesity may be a social problem, but it is really a parent problem. Parents need to train their kids into healthy eating habits, and enjoyment of physical activity. And some parents have a harder time; a single mom who works two jobs so that she can pay the rent obviously isn't going to have time to prepare a healthy, balanced meal every single night. And if she and her kids can only afford to live in a dangerous area, then they obviously can't go play outside when they get home from school everyday. But that doesn't mean that the answer is to ban cupcakes, because doing so isn't going to take away from the underlying problems.
There is nothing inherently wrong with a cupcake. And we shouldn't train children into believing that there is, because then we train them that certain foods are guilty foods, and they are bad people if they indulge. There is nothing moral about eating broccoli versus eating a cupcake. That doesn't mean that cupcakes should be a staple in every diet, but we shouldn't pretend like they are the root of all evil, either.
Food is a serious issue for me, not only because I like it (I am vehemently pro-cupcake), but because I have seen so many women in my age group (and, frighteningly, younger) who have extremely unhealthy relationships with food. They believe the ability to deny themselves the pleasure of eating something they like is a moral accomplishment. They believe that to have worth has women, they must be of exactly the right body type, and to acheive this, they must not eat the evil cupcake! There's nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, but there is something wrong when you equate your self-worth with your ability to deny yourself. Down this road lie anorexia, bulimia, and frantic dieting of women of all age groups.
We don't need to teach young children that they should fear cupcakes. We don't need to instill in them a fear of occasional indulgence; I truly believe that letting yourself have what you want sometimes is far better for the state of your soul than always saying, "oh no, I really shouldn't. I need to watch my figure." So let them have a damn cupcake.
-The Quartermaster

2 Comments:

  • "Americans have an extremely unhealthy way of looking at food"

    yeah they like it too much.
    were like the fattest nation in the world.

    i agree that kids should be able to eat cupcakes on their birthday but some people just dont need any more fatty food. banning cupcakes from school. is a good way to keep the fattys from gaining more weight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:10 PM  

  • Have you made being a troll on this blog a full time job?

    By Blogger The Triumvirate, at 6:30 PM  

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