Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Are car seats pop culture?

Slate's human nature column is reporting a new angle on the "Americans are obese and it's getting weird" meta story: apparently there are now 280,000 kids under the age of 7 who are too overweight to fit in standard car seats and the manufacturers are now designing "hefty" versions to accomodate them. A parent of a larger than average child in Oregon is quoted in this article as saying of one of these more substantial seats: "It's like a Lazy-Boy recliner.It was a little difficult getting it in the back seat but my daughter loves it."

Is it wrong of me to view this as another reason to be glad that I'm not a parent - I have only my own weight to worry about! The difficulty of raising a fit and healthy child in America today is immense and sad.


Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Some parents are horribly irresponsible about their childrens' weight. A couple of years ago I was at a going away party for some friends. Also at the party were the parents of a little two year old (she may have been three) named Hannah.

Hannah could not walk because she was so fat. Mind you, most kids walk at about 12 months. Her parents were not concerned about this.

While at the party, Hannah was crawling around and found a plate of carrots. She seemed to enjoy the carrots. But her mother would have none of that. "Hannah, come here and eat your hot dog." Hannah wasn't interested. "Hannah, come on and eat this yummy hot dog." Hannah kept chewing on the carrots. The mother kept insisting that Hannah have the hot dog, ultimately picking Hannah up (a feat in itself) and taking her away from the carrots, forcing the hot dog into Hannah's mouth.

WHY would one do this to a child? I understand that children are picky and many insist on eating things like hot dogs. And sometimes parents decide that it is more important they eat something and allow the hot dogs. But Hannah DIDN'T WANT THE HOT DOG. Moreover, she wanted something healthy! Why discourage that?

At least Hannah won't be teased when she gets to school. All of the other kids will be just as fat as she is.

4/05/2006 11:11 AM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

I'm not a conservative by any means and I embrace most aspects of pop culture (obviously). But I can see why railing against pop culture is so successful -- it strikes a chord with a lot of people (especially parents) who feel overwhelmed by our culture. Different people dislike different aspects of it, but I think almost everyone feels equally out of control.

I think the weight issue ties into this. Obviously, at some level, it is about individual responsibility and about parents like the ones Red mentions who make horrible decisions. But I think a much bigger component is cultural. We're not getting fatter because our genes are changing, or because our basic instincts are changing, but because our culture is changing. Most of us work at jobs that are sedentary and drive to work, school, shopping, etc. We have to schedule time to actually move.
At the same time, processed, fattening food is widely available and cheap. More importantly, people are so much busier that it makes economic sense for people to outsource a lot of their cooking to restaurants and super markets.

I really don't envy parents trying to instill healthy habits in their kids in the face of these broader trends.

4/05/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Laura Holt said...

I completely agree with Bailey. My parents had a much easier time of it raising me in a place and at a time where it was considered safe and responsible parenting to allow your third-grader to spend a couple of hours after school riding her bike around town with her friends.

My parents didn't need to schedule me with tennis lessons and swimming lessons and ski lessons (though they did) to fit some activity into my life because if I wanted to see a friend on a weekend I had to get on my bike or walk to their house, sometimes miles away. It seems like the current level of (probably justified) paranoia about abduction has significantly lessened the amount of daily activity that kids get. I mean, in many places even walking to and from school isn't an option!

So glad I don't have to contend with these tough choices.

4/05/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Bailey Quarters said...

I think that the fear is not justified. It's my understanding that crimes against children have plummeted since the early 1970s.

4/05/2006 12:20 PM  

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