The Tennessean is running this incredibly powerful piece about body image by Knight Stivender and about how girls' perceptions of acceptability of their own bodies chases them far into adulthood.
I know it will annoy some of my friends to see me complaining about my weight. Even at my heavier end, I have the sort of shape (long legs, flat stomach, round butt, slender shoulders) our post-J-Lo culture deems desirable. But too often what I see are misperceptions I developed in childhood.
In the same way some people carry around the baggage of their parents’ divorce or other trauma, the way I perceived my body at 12 affects the way I treat it today.
And then she shares that she is afraid that her daughter is starting down this same troubling path. These are the kinds of discussions we, as a community need to be having. And I think it's brave and commendable for Stivender to open herself up like this.
The page also includes tips from Jennifer Kimball, executive director at Girls on the Run, and Morlunda Lattimore, director of Youth Services at YWCA, for promoting healthy body images in girls. One of the tips?
Stress to girls that it is not about how much they weigh. Put the emphasis on being healthy and the benefits you gain from that, says Lattimore.
It's at this point that everybody at The Tennessean needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Because there's something wrong with an organization that can run this piece — which I assume means people read it and were moved by it and decided it would make a good addition to the paper — and that can still be pushing their big Brainstorm Nashville idea where they invite the community to sit around and scrutinize children's bodies, decide what is wrong with them, and how to fix them.
You can't have it both ways. You can't know how terrible it is for young girls to hear that their whole worth is based on whether they can avoid being called fat and sit around calling young girls fat. Not and pass yourself off as not evil.
Stivender says that she asks her daughter where she gets these "nutty ideas" about her body somehow being wrong. Stivender needs look no further than her employer.
If The Tennessean wants to have a real, difficult discussion about childhood obesity, they'd include Stivender's piece on Brainstorm Nashville's childhood obesity page. Let people reckon with what it does to little girls to hear from their community and culture that they are "wrong." It'd be a nice cautionary lesson in the dangers of opening up children's bodies to adult scrutiny.