An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama
In order to successfully fight childhood obesity, it helps to understand what it is like to be an obese child.
Dear Madam First Lady,
I would like to commend you on your mission to decrease the rate of childhood obesity in this great nation. I see that you have gotten restaurants to put out healthier menus and even have celebrity chefs with television specials out there promoting the cause. However, I don’t think this is enough. There is a key element that must be addressed in order for this battle to succeed: the psychology of an obese child.
Your children have fine builds on them, your husband practically disappears when he turns sideways, and it’s pretty obvious that you work out daily. Judging by those well-sculpted arms, I would guess that you never had a weight problem as a child. Therefore, you have probably never felt that particular brand of hurt.
I did and I have. I was fat from the word go. I felt the sting of the insults for years. Even though the outward evidence of my weight problem has been gone for the past 11 years, I still hear the insults just as loudly. I was bullied and had to learn how to fight back because of it. I have hidden food in closets, found food hidden in closets, and thrown evidence of a binge in my blind neighbor’s garbage can because I knew nobody would see it. (I wish that I were making that last part up, but I’m not.)
We are looking at what the kid is eating, but we also need to look at what is eating the kid. We have to get into that damaged psyche and build up children’s shattered self images so they can get a hold of their inner demons and break their cycle of compulsive overeating. I know what they think. I know how they feel. With all due respect, you most likely do not.
In the North Pocono School District, I met with students in grades 4 through 12. I reached them. Now, when they come into my pharmacy, they know who I am. It may be my Mom’s teacher genes or something else entirely, but I have a way with children. I have ideas of starting a play 60 program and have a community education class called “How to Run a Mile” working in its infancy. As a veteran of 14 marathons, including Boston, I know whereof I speak, and my knowledge has been actively sought.
In short, I offer you my services. I offer you a glimpse into the mind of the inner fatman. I truly believe that my perspective will offer new insights that would help make your well-established campaign even more successful than it already is.
Jay J. Sochoka, RPh, CIP
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is the author of Fatman in Recovery: Tales from the Brink of Obesity.