He was slow. He was stocky. He was hilarious. He was the fat kid. Growing up, you knew him too. He was in every community, in every genre of the schoolyard hierarchy from tunnel-slide roughian to the double-dog-dare-girl kisser. The fat kid traversed time appearing in your grandfatherâ€™s one room school house yarns, bell-bottomed clad tales of your motherâ€™s prom, and even sitting shotgun in your older brotherâ€™s Z28 drag racing stories. The fat kid is as universal as laughter, and as soothing as love itself, but there is an epidemic troubling todayâ€™s youth that could possibly remove this piece of Americana forever. Of course, Iâ€™m referring to todayâ€™s lack of movement-movement known as childhood obesity.
You remember â€˜your fat kid.â€™ Growing up, yes he was fat, but like the chameleon changes from green to brown, the fat kid learned to adapt. The fat kid had to learn how to make a contribution to the group, to â€˜fit inâ€™ and so many found that said contribution in the form of comic relief. In many ways the fat kidâ€™s gift of humor counterbalanced their curse of (for better lack of a humorous word) â€˜huskinessâ€™ and allowed them to evolve into a part of the group. Life evened the playing field, and like Jurassic Park, â€œNature finds a way.â€
Until today, fat kids were like blue diamonds; elusive and rare among the glass case of clear/skinny kids. Though my metaphor doesnâ€™t hold up in the monetary sense (fat kids=blue diamonds? Câ€™mon, they were worthless) they were heralded as humorous, gifted in gab, and a silent symbol of a house were one could ALWAYS find pizza, but that is no longer the case in todayâ€™s society (aside from the pizza). For today, an overwhelming majority of American children are fat, blurring the line between â€˜fat funnyâ€™ and â€˜fat ass.â€™
Despite my enthusiasm for youth-related activities/volunteer work, this obesity situation has long gone unnoticed, but like your girlfriend â€˜studyingâ€™ at you friendâ€™s house, I knew there was something going on. It wasnâ€™t until I became â€˜event staffâ€™ for a large-scale youth party planner that this obesity situation became blatantly apparent. Every weekend as I would monitor activity in an inflatable obstacle course, or use a garden hose to wet down an air-injected slide, Iâ€™d be forced to wonder if Pillsbury was Griffith Parkâ€™s official sponsor and I was startled at the number of overweight children I came into contact with. There were no signs of â€˜my fat kid,â€™ the fat kid with the glasses entertaining a group of â€˜athletic youth,â€™ but it was droves of portly elementary children slowly walking like herds of dairy cows. What startled me the most wasnâ€™t their lack of zeal to be outside or the ridiculous pace in which they attempted to climb a rope ladder (see â€˜patheticâ€™ in dictionary), but it was the fact that out of an endless group of chubby cheeks and strained elastics, I couldnâ€™t find 1 funny fat kid. Initially I thought, â€œMan Iâ€™m going to get some laughs (or some milk!) out of these kids today,â€ but like sitting next to them at a dinner tableâ€¦ I got nothing.
From my understanding, fat kids are supposed to be funny, but todayâ€™s cream-filled youth are no longer required to have extra skills to fit in. â€˜Somehowâ€™ through the marvel of modern parenting a huge portion of the child population has been allowed to become overweight. Now of course proper responsibility for the fat epidemic rests on the shoulders of todayâ€™s parent who is â€˜too busyâ€™ to encourage activity or healthy eating habits. But a parentâ€™s job has not been made easier by the influx of fast-food dinners, unattended snack reserves, and technology geared toward keeping American youth â€˜plugged inâ€™ which only aids in the descent of creating a healthy/physically fit lifestyle. With no appropriate example to follow, and a culture based on quick meals and visual stimulation, the plague of childhood obesity is a threat on par with the bird fluâ€¦ but this time the threat is real.
Though I donâ€™t agree with todayâ€™s parenting methods, my true gruff resides in the extinction of the â€˜all-naturalâ€™ funny fat kid, a kid who would choose to make jokes about his weight rather than face the ridicule of having it done for himâ€¦ a true American hero. But this Davey Crockett I speak of is all but gone. With much of Americaâ€™s youth becoming â€˜blimpy,â€™ there is no longer a need for the fat kids to defend themselves and to be on guard with their humor. With no one to make fun of them, they have no desire to make a change or to better themselves. Theyâ€™re no longer humorous, or smart, or good at marching band, theyâ€™re just fat children reaching for another cookie. To those of us who grew up in the â€˜Golden Ageâ€™ of the elementary school hierarchy (1949-1997), the truly disheartening fact is that the cool kids are even becoming portly, allowing the not-so-cool to just be chubby and humorless, i.e. useless.
Though I hate the epidemic, I donâ€™t hate fat kids. I hate the fact that parents believe its okay for an entire generation to throw health to the wind, I hate the fact that children would rather â€˜plug-inâ€™ than play outside, but more than anything, I hate the fact that trying to spot todayâ€™s â€˜funny fat kidâ€™ is like trying to find a Waldo wearing one striped sock. After watching â€˜my fat kidâ€™ attempt to climb the gym rope back in â€™95, if youâ€™d have asked me if I wanted more fat kids, the answer would have been simple, but after seeing what that overweight world is actually like, today that answer resounds like a freshmen girl at a frat partyâ€¦ â€œNO.â€
Letâ€™s get real; the funny fat kid is as American as the apple pie he ate all by himself, but like everything, heâ€™s only healthy in small portions.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 m.moore
The Lack of Movement - movement
Copyright © 2010 m.moore
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