D Dipasupil / Contributor / Getty ImagesYou can file this under news that we really hope isn't true: Mama June Shannon is reportedly in talks to do yet another spin-off reality show. This time the focus would be on her kids -- including 11-year-old Alana Thompson, better known to the world as Honey Boo Boo -- and their efforts to lose weight.
If you just cringed, welcome to the club. Pull up a chair, and get comfortable, because we're about to unpack this thing.
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Sometimes a child's parents (or at least parent, in this case -- Mama June Shannon is said to be pushing for this, according to Hollywood Life's source) need to sit him or her down and discuss the child's health and how current weight factors into it. Sometimes a doctor, nutritionist, therapist, or a combination of all three need to be called in to help craft an appropriate weight loss plan. It's not something any parent really relishes, but in a nation where 19 percent of little boys and 15 percent of little girls are considered obese by medical standards, sometimes it's a matter of health.
But weight and body image are tender topics, and they're especially fraught for kids around Alana's age -- when hormones are beginning to surge, and the body is beginning to change in ways that kids have absolutely no way of controlling. A majority of cases of bulimia and anorexia begin sometime between tweenhood and the mid teen years. For girls, that's when they're developing hips, and boobs, and stretch marks, and hearing a whole lot of mixed messages: Honey, you're beautiful the way you are! Hey, look at that model Photoshopped within an inch of her life on the cover of that magazine that is marketed directly to you!
That's the reality for kids Alana's age, and it's hard enough to figure it all out when you're just going to school, hanging out with your friends, and spending time with your family.
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Now picture what it would be like to do all of that in front of the rest of the world.
More to the point, what it would be like as a kid who has been pretty adamant that she has no intention of dieting like her mom because "I like my curves." Even pushing a kid who is content in his or her body toward a weight loss scheme could wreak havoc on one's psyche. Then add cameras and the judgment of millions of TV viewers to the mix, and you have the recipe for a whole lot of future therapy.
Could a reality show about a child losing weight and pursuing a healthier lifestyle be interesting for parents who are having their own struggles trying to navigate tough talks about weight with their kids? Maybe. It might even be instructional -- if done with the inclusion of the right experts, like nutritionists who can help draft a diet plan and therapists who can help balance the emotional needs. The topic is one so terrifying for parents, additional resources can never hurt.
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At least ... this likely wouldn't hurt those parents looking for answers. But putting a kid on a reality show centered solely on her weight can hurt that child. Maybe it wouldn't. But there's a very high risk that it would ... a risk so high that if we're hoping to see a show like this just because we need answers, we need to consider what we're asking a child to do, and what it's really worth. Our kids may need help, but not at the sake of another child's emotional and mental health.
If Honey Boo Boo wants to (or is going to) lose weight, that should be between her, her mom, and her pediatrician. That's about it.