A 7-year-old girl's diet list has been circulating on the web recently, causing heartbreaking gasps and an outcry against our weight-obsessed culture. The handwriting is childish, but the sentiments it contains are those we like to think don't begin haunting children until later in life, though time and again, we're shown otherwise.
The note came from mom Amy Cheney who shared the "diyet" list with all of its misspellings at Mamamia. She said she found it in her daughter's room, amidst the Polly Pockets and friendship bracelets.
The note outlines foods the girl lets herself eat: "Appals, keewee, yoget" as well as exercises she needs to do: "pooshups, 16 star jumps 2 time a day, and rid my bike 3 times a day."
Again, this is from a 7-year-old girl.
Cheney says she was shocked and didn't even know where her daughter learned the word diet. She wrote:
Whose fault is this? Is it mine because I let her play with Barbies? Because sometimes she’s allowed to watch Total Drama Action? Is it because when I draw with her I can only draw stick figures?
Seventeen Poosh-ups two times a day.
I felt sick. Physically ill. Like someone had knocked the air from my chest.
I, frankly, don't find it surprising at all that a 7-year-old would write a note like this. Of course, she knows what a diet is, because we talk about them all the time. A study from the National Eating Disorders Association found that 40-60 percent of kids ages 6-12 are worried about their weight; 70 percent would like to be thinner. The fact that she's determined to eat healthy foods and exercise certainly isn't negative, but to see someone so young be concerned enough about it to write down a list has bigger implications, and on that front I get this mother's feelings. Seven-year-olds should be playing with Polly Pockets, not obsessing about their diet.
Cheney goes on to say that she's "smart" about this stuff. She has a degree in early childhood studies, and her family promotes healthy attitudes about food and body image. So she blames society.
F*ck you society. F*ck you and your and stupid obsession with women and the way they look.
How dare you sneak into my home with your ridiculous standards and embed them in my little girls head, polluting her innocence with your pathetic ideals.
Your unrealistic expectations will not win in my house.
Won't they? I hope not, just as I hope they won't in my house either. But I look at my perfect, beautiful 4-year-old daughter, and I know that's not how she will see herself for long. I know it's only a matter of time before someone crushes her spirit that soars with all the confidence in the world right now, before it's chipped away little by little just because of how she's supposed to look.
And it frightens me, because I don't know how stop it from it from happening. And it depresses me, because it feels so inevitable that it will. I look at myself and at most of the women I know, and how even the most seemingly confident among us has spent countless hours in pain and self-doubt because of our body image. We can try to set a healthy example (despite the fact that we're poor ones inside), but that seems like so little when there's a world of other messages coming at them.
How do we stop it? How do we protect our beautiful, perfect daughters and encourage them to be healthy and strong without letting their self-worth rely on their size? I have no clue really, and that's what most heartbreaking of all.
What do you think of this 7-year-old's "diyet" note?
Image via MCA/MikeAllyn/Flickr