Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Big Man on Campus

One of the more toxic things I do every fall for my self-esteem and body image is to compare my approaching middle-aged physique to that of the herd of 18-year-old undergrads who descend upon our town to attend Big Midwest State University. Normally, this is one of those depressing exercises where I feel horrible about my lack of abs and the 30 pounds (okay, 40) I've put on since graduating high school. This year, not so much, mainly because:

1) I received a stack of photos of myself when I was 18, and I was sickly thin. 20 of those pounds are keeping my bones from protruding.

2) I also received a stack of photos of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, and even though there is a notion that people who worked the land from sun up to sun down every day did not get fat, these people did. I come from a line of obese farmers. The fact that I'm merely 10 pounds overweight is an accomplishment.

3) I'm slimmer than the undergrads. I see them leaving the dorms, and I'm thinner than they are. Instead of me feeling bad about myself, I feel bad for our entire country. Because if you are starting out your adult life this way, what is it going to be in 10 or 15 years? Right now, 33% of children are overweight or obese. This does not bode well for the future, unless there is some kind of cultural shift in the direction of... I don't know what... I am not sure how many Food Plates and Let's Move! campaigns can do any real good. Unless we adults start leading the way, I'm not sure what we can expect the kids to do.

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