[trigger warning: fat shaming, food. please enjoy this delightful otter instead.]
The bus I take to work goes by the high school right when all the kids are due, so on a rainy day like today, it can take 10 minutes or more to get 50 feet down the road to drop off the kids. The bus driver was understandably annoyed after the 5th time we sat through the light at the same intersection and started pontificating on how ridiculous it was for parents to give their children a ride to school- in the pouring rain, mind you. With ice and huge piles of snow everywhere.
First of all, before I get to the title of this post, I would like to point out that if you've never tried to walk everywhere in the winter, you should. It will be educational. Half the sidewalks are never shoveled and that snow turns into ice as people walk on it. Businesses like to pile the snow from their parking lots onto the sidewalks. The city becomes an obstacle course of ice and snow and what is a 5 minute walk in the summer can easily take me 15 minutes by the end of winter. I don't blame anyone for not wanting their child to walk to school in that.
So, the bus driver is privileging all over people without cars and decides to add another group to his privilege parade: overweight kids. "These kids never walk anywhere, and that's why they're so fat!"
I watched the two biggest kids on the bus flinch at that. I'm not sure anyone else even noticed the casual fat shaming. Why would you? It's everywhere. And two teenaged kids got to start their day with an emotional beat down.
I noticed something at Walmart that might help the bus driver understand reality a little better. I paid $1.99 for head of iceberg lettuce half the size they normally are, but I could have gotten Hostess snack cakes- a whole box of them- for $1.50.
I paid $1.58 each for fresh broccoli crowns, but I could have gotten an entire box of Honey Buns for $1.00. Hell, for what I paid in fresh broccoli, it would have been cheaper to buy three boxes of Honey Buns.
80% ground beef was a little less than $4 for 1.5 lbs, but a bag of frozen, unbreaded fish fillets was almost $6.50.
Bottled water was, per ounce, 4 times the price of generic soda. (Yes, yes tap water, but you've never had to drink water where I live. It smells like it's filtered over rotting corpses. We have to make our ice with filtered water.)
I'm having a very hard time keeping up with my new diet. Having cut out the fat, keeping up my caloric intake is difficult at those kind of prices. Throughout the entire store, fatty, processed empty calorie crap was cheap and in bulk. Healthy food that actually is food is expensive and comes in small portions. A big bag of Twizzlers is $1.25. That's what one mango cost.
If you're poor, and in the county I live in, a full 25% of families fall below the federal poverty line, and you're raising children, what are you going to do? Buy a tiny amount of healthy food and watch while your children spend their entire childhoods hungry, or buy a full pantry of crap that will keep them full? There's really no good answer, is there?
And that's why they're so fat!
Now, I don't want to hear what your stores where you live charge. Am I talking about where you live? I don't want to hear about "Walmart's not the only store there is", either. I don't have a car, so I beg rides from family to get to the store. Which puts me in about the same spot as the average working parent in terms of time and ability to get places. Despite this, I have checked out every store in the area, and Walmart really is the best deal overall. I can't stop by 5 different stores to take advantage of all the sales every week, and neither can the average working poor parent. If I go to Redner's, their produce is limited and I'm paying an arm and a leg for spices and laundry detergent. Price Chopper has great produce, but their cleaning supplies and fish* are outrageously expensive.
So let's not start a kid's Monday with fat shaming until we've fixed the walking situation, the poverty situation and the food pricing situation. You know, never.
*I am a vegetarian, but I always did eat fish occasionally. Since I've had to cut out eggs and milk, I had to find something to replace the protein. I tell myself that wild fish had nice lives before I ate them, unlike the poor pigs and chickens raised for slaughter. Do not ruin this for me. I need protein.