Wednesday, October 9, 2013

If Only They Knew

I am a Health Education major. I am in my last year of classes, and this year I have been going into high schools and middle schools to observe health classes to learn how to teach and such. I am in middle schools this week and last week, and the unit that is being taught right now is nutrition and fitness.

I was observing a first period health class, and a discussion was going on about weigh gain, weight loss, and weight management. The teacher asked the class how they could lose weight, and almost unanimously the class answered, "anorexia." I was pretty disturbed by that, but the teacher shut that down and moved on.

Well, in the second period class, same discussion going on, same question comes up, and once again the class answered, "anorexia." Are you serious? I stayed for one more class period, where the same scenario took place.

I was thoroughly disgusted. These are children! Thirteen year old children, and they are all shouting out that anorexia is the answer to weight loss. And it wasn't only one or two students in each class, it was 3 out of 3 health classes.

Today, I observed a different teacher, and different students. This teacher asked me to grade some assignments for her, and I started doing so, mindlessly making sure everything was filled out. About 12 papers in, I noticed a word in all caps, "BULIMIA." I looked to see what the question was:

"What is an effective way to manage your weight?"

Manage your weight. Not even lose weight, but just to manage it. Shocked, I counted it wrong and wrote a little note about how that is unhealthy and dangerous. Next paper, same thing. I was floored! I finished grading and went back through the first half I had already graded, and about half of the class answered that bulimia was an effective way to manage your weight.

Who is teaching these children to destroy their bodies for the sake of a mirror? Who is telling them that it is okay to damage yourself physically and starve yourself in order to have a gap between your thighs? or to see your hip bones? Or to lose the bit of fat around your abdomen?

What about the emotional and mental scarring that comes from eating disorders? What about the strong disdain towards their bodies no matter how much weight they lose? What about the fatigue and inability to concentrate? What about the possibility of sickness, disease, hospitalization, and even death?

Why do the children not know that depression almost always accompanies an eating disorder? Why are they not informed that they can have their own personal "perfect" body by feeding it the proper nutrients and exercising? Why do they not know that happiness is not found in a reflection?

If only these sweet children could know how serious eating disorders are, and how dangerous they are spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Starving yourself or throwing up will NOT give you your desired effect. It will actually destroy what self confidence you do have.

Please, teach these children. If you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings, or any interaction with young people, correct this misperception.

That is all.

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