Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prince Fielder!

Such a great name (and such a great name for a baseball player).

The dude signed an enormous contract for the Tigers today, but the thing that caught my eye were these old photos, posted by the Twitter account @si_vault (complete with a little fat-bashing--of a little kid--yay), which showcases photos of athletes from the Sports lllustrated archives. Here is a young Prince Fielder, shown in two of the photos with his father, former MLB and Tigers player Cecil Fielder (how cute is that first one of him at 9 years old):

Sports journalism being the obsessive thing it is, I am sure Fielder's size has been examined all to hell and back. That's basically how I know his name, from it popping up in conjunction with "too fat?" discussions. (One description of him from The Hardball Times: "Up close, compared to his teammates, he looked like a man among boys. His arms were bigger than my thighs, but he didn't look fat--he just looked huge.")

The thing I think looking at these photos today, when we live with so much emphasis on and hysteria about childhood size, is: how should the world treat kids like him? How did the world treat that kid? Did his family/his dad know he could be a great athlete and more or less let him be himself--let that body be the one he became a great athlete in? How much did he have to fight to become who he was?

A fat, talented kid like that these days--I'm not sure he would have been left alone. I'm not talking about the bullying aspect: he would be put on diets, and sent home from school with notes for his family, and tsked at in various ways. All that stuff happened when I was a kid, and when he was a kid, but without quite the large-scale institutional hysteria that informs most aspects of our discussions of children and food now--the constant chorus of childhood-obesity-childhood-obesity.

You can't know what that kind of stuff will do to a child, but I do know that it usually increases your chance of being fatter, of developing an eating disorder, of yo-yo dieting. How much does our emphasis on size over health interfere with kids becoming who they might be? Is it okay that this little dude grew up to be a famous fattish athlete? Is being a fat child so bad that it is worth the risk of taking away what he might become on the chance you might get him thinner now? Temporarily.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Liz. Preach. Amen. Hallelujah. YES. I often wonder how different we all would be had we not been beaten with the fat bigotry stick. And what we dealt with as kids is nothing compared to the drama of today. Just...oy. Heartbreaking.