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Parents, Diet Culture is Unfun and Unfunny

Karla Lester, MD, shares that Gen Z is the loneliest and most stressed generation, and asks parents to increase the laughing/unnecessary seriousness ratio in their teen's life.

Diet culture is unfun and unfunny.

 

What’s your laughing/unnecessary seriousness ratio in your house?

 

What makes you laugh?

 

Think of the times when you laughed, like so hard it hurt your stomach laughed? I just love it when that happens. When it does, I get all religious and stuff. I look up at God or the Universe and point, saying, “Now, I get it.  The meaning of life. All is well. Thank you.” 

 

The other day I was watching TikTok (go figure) and I scrolled onto a video of a baby (5 or 6 months old, I would say in my expert pediatric opinion).  I’ve watched it many times and shared it with my family who usually ignore my videos. Their loss! Darek, the hubs, thought it was super funny and we both reminisced on what wonderful parents we were when our babies were actual babies.  

 

Now, we’re questioning why we suck so much at it. JK. Kind of. 

 

By the way, I just love that baby age.  Six months is when babies start babbling consonants (every dad delusionally believes “Da Da” is their baby’s first word) and their personality shows up.  When I was in pediatric practice, I loved seeing the 6-month-old well child checks on my schedule.  Just adorable! 

 

Back to the baby hysterically laughing video. It’s a viral video with a baby cracking up, I mean baby belling laughing (nothing better) as his mom rips a piece of paper in half.  Oh, the shock of it. His laughing gets so extreme with every rip of the paper, that he leans back and falls over on his side, on the bed, of course. His little body is overcome with his mom’s hilarity. To him, Mom is George Carlin level funny. Those were the days. 

 

Remember getting all the expensive toys for your baby and all they wanted to play with was a wadded-up piece of paper, your keys or a Kleenex or just simply gnaw on your face? Once your baby gets that pincer grasp down around 9 months, they make a nice little vacuum cleaner.  

 

Remember getting all the expensive toys for your baby and all they wanted to play with was a wadded-up piece of paper, your keys or a Kleenex or just simply gnaw on your face? Click To Tweet

 

These days, my kids are the ones ripping the paper.

 

Last weekend we were driving to KC for the weekend to celebrate my son’s 16th birthday by going to the Royals game and to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun.  My husband and son went on heat-laden adventures, and I took my daughter, Audrey, who’s headed to college shopping for dorm stuff at IKEA. Also, a crazy maze of an adventure, though an air-conditioned one with Swedish meatballs instead of crappy amusement park pizza. 

 

On the way into downtown KC, my hometown, we spotted a personal injury lawyer billboard:

“Been in an accident or injured on the job?”

“Call Mike.”

 

My daughter, Audrey, says:

“Call Mike.”

“He’ll finish you off.”

 

I started laughing and kept laughing and whenever I think of this line, I can’t stop laughing.  

I think it’s the perfect joke.  To me, it’s paper-ripping funny. 

 

We take the fun out of our parenting and our teens’ lives when we’re fixated on harmful and unfun external perfectionistic diet culture.  

 

We take the fun out of our parenting and our teens' lives when we’re fixated on harmful and unfun external perfectionistic diet culture. Click To Tweet

 

Our teens are like, “Hey, where’s my hilarious paper-ripping Mom or Dad?  They were a blast! They fed me, changed me, kept me safe, read to me, and made me laugh so hard I peed my diaper!” 

 

Understanding and Engaging Generation Z” by Liz Hathaway PhD, MPH & Becca O’Shields MATS, LCSW published in American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal puts the data behind what all of us parents of Gen Z’ers know:  

 

Gen Z is the loneliest and most stressed generation. 

 

We can blame the pandemic and social media until the end of time. It’s clear that Gen Z needs our help, and the last thing Gen Z needs is for Gen X parents to stay stuck in our 1980’s unfun and harmful diet culture and pursuit of thin privilege.

 

Diet culture is unfun and unfunny. I coach parents and believe me, even with good intentions, diet culture and thinking shows up in our lives in many ways.  It can even become internalized. Parents unknowingly push it off on our kids. 

 

Gen Z also has a lot of strengths. When I coach teens, my mind is blown by their intuition and ability to filter out all the inputs.  

 

Gen Z has a lot of strengths. When I coach teens, my mind is blown by their intuition and ability to filter out all the inputs. Click To Tweet

 

Life is never a total ball of laughs.  That’s okay. We’re here for all of it.  The blow-out diaper changes in the middle of the night and the paper-ripping baby belly laughs hilarity.  

 

Let’s increase our laughing/unnecessary seriousness ratio in our lives and for our teens.  

 

Dropping diet culture and its perfectionistic harms from your life is the first step to laughing more and suffering way less.  

 

Let’s start ripping pieces of paper in half again.  

 

 

Self-love superpower,

Dr. Karla

 

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