Friday, February 4, 2011
Today's news stories come with a heavy dose of woman and mother-blame.
- Canadian women getting fatter, and fast...: In the Ottawa Citizen, Sharon Kirkey reported that Canadian women are becoming overweight faster than almost any other women in the high-income world. At least this article ended with a couple of suggestions on tackling structural issues in society that may be contributing to obesity.
- ...while kids of working moms are far likelier to be obese: Also in the Ottawa Citizen, Sharon Kirkey reports that researcher Taryn Morrissey doesn't intend to make mothers feel guilty, but "after looking at nearly 1,000 children living in 10 U.S. cities, Morrissey and colleagues found that a child's body mass index rises slightly the more time a mother is employed over the child's life-time." This is, of course, "just one of many factors at play in the current epidemic of childhood obesity" according to Morrissey, but also the only one making headlines in the paper.
- Conservatives draw fire over comment on child care: The Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt reported that Conservative Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said "It's the Liberals who want to ensure that parents are forced to have other people raise their children. We do not believe in that."
Why can't people see past the statistics and the rhetoric and realize that the problem isn't women or mothers? The problem is that our society is working against working mothers instead of evolving to create a better and more supportive environment for them.
- Where are the companies offering convenient real food for moms to put on the table instead of marketing us crap and telling us it is nutritious? (Nutella, Gerber Graduates, Pizzaville)
- Where are the flexible workplaces for moms and for dads (in practice, as well as in theory), that allow parents to spend more time with their children even if they are both working?
- Why aren't our children being given enough time to run around and be active each day at day care and school instead of focusing on excelling on standardized testing?
- Why are our day cares and schools offering meal programs that pretend to be healthy, but that are often no better than fast food?
- Why isn't anyone doing anything about the fact that junk food is cheaper than real food?
- Why isn't the government offering more generous parental leave programs (like some European countries) so that parents can opt to take more time off if they want to?
- Why isn't more blame placed on the companies who keep increasing and increasing portion sizes?
Ultimately, what the "blamers" don't seem to realize (or don't seem to care about) is that high income Canadians are more likely to be able to stay at home with their kids, to buy and prepare healthy real food, and to have the time and money to ensure both they and their kids get out to exercise. Low income Canadians are more likely to have to have both parents at work (sometimes both working multiple jobs), to have to buy unhealthy foods because healthy ones are less accessible and less affordable, and to be less likely to have the time or the money to participate in fitness activities.
Working moms are part of our reality now. Rather than blaming them for stepping out of the 1950s and stepping up to support their families financially, I'd like to see researchers and politicians dig deeper and find the real reasons behind challenges our society is facing. Sure, some people can overcome those challenges sometimes and it is worth it to try in spite of it all. However, we would have more success and more happiness as a society if it were easier for people to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. We need less blame, more solutions.