Monday, November 20, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

A slimmer Disney villain sends the right message about healthy eating

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While perusing my social media, my eye catches a glimpse of something controversial.

"Disney slims down iconic Little Mermaid villain Ursula and here's why it's a really bad thing!"

They've got my attention.

In short, people appear to be angry because they feel that it's important for our children to see a variety of sizes of people embracing their body image.

Listen, I want the same thing. I want young children to learn at an early age to love every aspect of themselves. But we should be equally concerned with educating them about how to properly take care of the very body we are trying to teach them to accept and appreciate.

In all my 18 years of parenting, I have never been angry over something that was done or said by a celebrity or a character in a movie. I won't deny the argument about some aspects of society robbing our babies of their innocence.

But, I'm of the mind-set that since I can't change the world, and bubbles don't really exist, I need to learn to parent within that world and use every moment as an age-appropriate teaching moment.

My point? Why can't we teach them when they're little and significantly more easy to mold to eat the right foods and take care of themselves?

And accepting your body? Of course! Accepting your weight? I personally have a huge problem with this.

I want to teach my kids to love their nose, their thick and coarse hair, their long skinny toes — even the crooked one — and every mole and freckle. But telling them to accept being overweight angers me.

Somehow, my words will be interpreted as a hate on weight. That couldn't be further from the truth. I have personally struggled for over 25 years with my weight. I can't blame anyone but myself for maintaining the problem.

But I do feel that I could have been introduced to better habits and exposed to healthier choices at a young age. A steady supply of Happy Meals and those little foil-covered TV dinners with that amazing little gooey brownie in the top center square taught me to seek convenience instead of healthy choices, and I have paid the price most of my adult life.

I've tried umpteen thousand times to do better. But I'm overwhelmed with buying and preparing food that isn't processed and full of preservatives and sugars. I wish I had been taught another way early on. I wish it had become a way of life.

I wish that people understood that loving yourself doesn't mean accepting anything that happens to you. And choosing to make a change doesn't mean you don't love yourself. It means you love yourself enough to make improvements.

And, as I know all too well, not making the change to improve yourself doesn't define a lack of love. For many of us, our relationship with food needs to improve. We can easily consume our daily allowance of calories, fat and sugar in one swoop through a drive-through for breakfast and we don't even know it.

I believe everyone should love themselves, but I believe we should love ourselves enough to stop making excuses and put boundaries on what is acceptable.

Understand, I'm not promoting the one-size-fits-all Hollywood standard of beauty that can be unobtainable and lead to an entirely different set of problems. I'm simply saying there's a point, absent of medical conditions, where the weight can become unhealthy. The portions are out of control and the nutrients are absent.

And somehow, our poor choices require Disney to keep a plus-size villain to make us feel better about ourselves? This isn't on Disney. This falls solely on us. We need to tell our kids how we're proud Ursula chose to make a positive change for herself.

Even though I look more like the original Ursula, I welcome the changes.

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