STFU Parents: Fast Food Bites, Caramel Apple Meltdowns And Childhood Obesity On Facebook
Talking about what kids eat can be a very touchy subject. For one thing, it’s not supposed to be anyone’s business but the parents’. It is unequivocally rude to tell someone else what to feed her children or to turn a snobbish nose up at a bag of chips that aren’t made of kale. But at the same time, it’s widely recognized that over-consumption of bad foods and sodas in combination with lack of movement results in shockingly high obesity rates. Without the lines of communication open about what we put into our bodies, how will those statistics – and people’s waistlines – ever get reduced? Is it possible for parents to talk about the reasons they do or don’t feed their kids “treats” like fast food and soda, or have we reached a point where it’s taboo to take a picture of a kid chomping on a bag of french fries?
Personally, my feelings about this are mixed. I grew up in a house where fast food was a common dinner, but that doesn’t mean it provided me with a sufficient dose of nutrients. It was a lazy way to eat, but my parents didn’t always have time to cook, and no one ever acted like grabbing a “value meal” was wrong in any way. We didn’t over-do it, and my brother and I were both very active and healthy. It never occurred to me to get a bunch of refills for my soda, even though they were free because I grew up in Georgia where the cola flows like wine. Therefore, I never thought fast food was “gross.” Ironically, though, I do now. I only eat fast food an average of about once a year, and every time I do I repeat the same things. “This is disgusting! Why am I eating this? People feed this to their children? Ugh!” In reality, I know what it’s like to be that kid who craved those salty fries, so I don’t actually harbor much bias against people whose kids eat fast food as an occasional treat. But interestingly, I’ve discovered that while my attitude is fairly middle-of-the-road in real life, I’m more of an extremist online. Every time I get a submission that’s related to fast food, I silently judge the parent and think, “You are part of our food problem.” I’ve tried to understand this knee-jerk reaction, but I guess it’s just a feeling of mistrust that comes with reading about strangers on the Internet.
In any case, I’ve never posted any of those submissions before because I don’t want people to think I’m 100% against feeding kids fast food or soda or “babyccinos.” I’m not. I just think it’s ideal to wait to expose kids to those things for as long as possible. And I don’t mean “eight months.” Here are some of those submissions so you can decide if you agree with my stance or want to chuck a Big Mac at my head.
1. Caramel Apples Meltdown
It’s pretty sad when the only reason a child eats or orders fruit is if it’s slathered in a gooey, artificially-flavored caramel sauce. I know all the pro-caramel apple parents out there will shout, “A child’s palette isn’t as refined! You try feeding them a raw apple without caramel sauce!”, but sorry, I think that’s bullshit. I also think it’s one thing for a child to want to eat apple slices with caramel sauce, and it’s another thing for them to have access to eating it.
Unless of course, S. is commenting more on the quality of apples being served at McDonald’s, which wouldn’t surprise me at all considering this angry mother’s rant:
So, C.j. is simultaneously complaining that she can no longer eat caramel sauce with the now-requisite apples while she acknowledges that the apples on their own taste like an industrial factory. WTF is right. I’m also baffled by the fact that she cares so much about “having” to purchase another small fry, which costs one dollar. OR, here’s another idea: Divide up the new half-portion of fries and share a piece of fruit purchased at a separate location that doesn’t taste like “chemicals.”
Plus, is it really so easy to say, “…voilÃ , no more fat kid!”? I don’t know what makes her so sure. After all, we don’t know when Aidan got his first taste of “the goods.” He could have been as young as a baby.
2. Babies With Fries
Seeing as this is baby Zoleah’s “1st maccas” (aka McDonald’s Australia), it’s safe to assume her cute chubby cheeks are not the result of gorging on chippies. Still, without that helpful album name, I might have assumed something different. She’s so young, this picture almost looks like an ad for an anti-obesity PSA.
3. Childhood Obesity
This is a good example of how difficult it can be to broach the subject of childhood obesity from a certain vantage point. Part of Jamie’s status update puts the blame on the child’s mother, which I agree with, but that’s a bold statement to make on Facebook, especially about a stranger. Comments like Katie’s are to be expected, but I could also see people taking strong offense to Jamie’s original update. Thankfully, she’s confident in her beliefs and polite in her delivery, which is a good way to start the conversation.
4. Proud Parent
Michelle’s point might be that she’s not an all-organic helicopter mom who doesn’t know how to let her kid have fun, but that’s not how she comes across to me. I don’t know if it’s her incorrect use of “your,” or her readiness to make a joke about CPS, but something about her update strikes me as depressing. Who writes about being PROUD in all caps because she feeds her kids crap? I know what she’s getting at, but the joke isn’t funny. Pink slime isn’t funny. And sugar is deadly. Rather than crack jokes about sugar, perhaps Michelle should listen to all that chatter about “bad parents.” After all, the onus is on parents to teach their children the correct ways to consume things like candy and soda, and right now, the scales aren’t tipped in Michelle’s kids’ favor.