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Baby Fat

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You have probably heard that some studies have come out demonstrating that anorexia is a social disease, shocking no one.

The surprising element in all of this is just how early in life the fat-phobia is setting in. Peggy Orenstein noted in a recent blog post that many girls as young as three years old are showing serious warning signs of future body image disorders.

What’s a parent to do?!

It seems to me that, if anorexia is being transmitted through images, the first step is obvious: keep those images away form my kids.

Moving on from there, I am intentionally seeking out and surrounding my kids with positive media portrayals of a variety of body types, including some AWESOMELY BIG ONES (which, incidentally, are some of D’s favorites).

Here are 17 enormous and enormously awesome characters to start with if you are interested in doing something similar in your house.


Clifford is huge, entertaining, imaginative and fun. I love the retro flashbacks in the original books, too. Watch out, though, because Clifford has been co-opted into some heavy duty preschool consumerism.


You only see tummies like Barney’s on villains in kid entertainment these days. And I fully credit Barney for sparking my interest in “using your imagination” as a kid.


Baby Beluga is round and adorable, and of course the accompanying Raffi song is preschool gold (aren’t they all). I love the pictures in this book in particular. Bonus points for some lovely images of an indigenous (Inupiat?) woman.


Big Bird rules, but this is definitely a case where you just can’t beat the vintage stuff.


The Snuffleupagus. Who doesn’t want to hug this guy? His little sister, Sally, was my dream pet as a kid.


Everyone loves the BFG. My mom has quotes from this book taped up all over her kitchen. They always bring a smile to my face.


I love all the Stillwater the Panda books. The images are compelling, the stories are fun. I think every kid wishes they had a giant panda tummy to bounce on. My son is a serious wiggler, but he has been sitting through Stillwater books since he was 18 months old. The pictures are breathtaking.


FALKOR! Enough said.


Aslan. Minus ten points for being the brainchild of C. S. Lewis, who is overwhelmingly popular among the most annoying kind of religious person, the know-it-all, argumentative 13 year old boy. Oh, the endless discussions I’ve listened to over the years. Is Narnia allegorical or not? I DON’T CARE. I like anything with talking animals in it, and I wanted to be a dryad more than anything from ages 5 through…basically…now. So plus twenty points for that.


Alice in Wonderland. I love that we stay with Alice and see that her person is unaltered by her dramatic size fluctuations.


You remember The Runaway Bunny, that creepy story about the stalker bunny mama with major issues with boundaries? I hated that book as a kid. This one follows a similar theme, but it’s brilliant because it shows the child testing her mother’s love through misbehavior rather than desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to break free from an obsessive mother. More beautiful images of native Alaskans, and hands down the most tender, respectful portrayal of a large woman I’ve ever encountered.


Kipper is cute, calm, and he and his friends love chocolate cake and lollypops and have sweet, round little child tummies. Unfortunately there are no female characters in this show until the addition of Mouse, who remains a very minor character. I still love it, but it’s very disappointing to see how much more the creators of this show could have done with it.


Now, Peppa, on the other hand, Peppa is all that and a bag of chips. A funny, cozy, adventurous family of pigs snorts, plays in the mud, puts out fires, visits the space museum…they are round, noisy and totally lovable. I also love that the Pig family is able to demonstrate the value of being able to laugh things off. Every member of the Pig family manages to mess something up and embarrass themselves at some point or another, but they are quick to laugh it off, clean up after themselves and move on with life. AND, as with Kipper, you can get movies or books, which makes them way better than Barney in my mind.

These last books I discovered while brainstorming for this post. I have not actually read, but plan to soon and will update the post with my thoughts.





Do you have any favorite body-positive books, movies, songs, toys, or anything else you’d like to share? I’d love to generate some more ideas on this topic!


Written by GRSeim

March 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm

One Response

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  1. What’s interesting is that, growing up as a skinny boy, I got nearly as much crap as a fat girl. The guys get pressure to be muscular and manly, and the girls get pressure to be slim and waif-ish. I probably had the image reinforced by watching tons of G.I. Joe and 1980’s-era action movies. Growing up as an actual nerd (not to be confused with the people who are intentionally nerdy) is also hazardous to your sense of self.


    March 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

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