So, this week I was at the gym. As I sat on the bike I watched 3 girls come in. They all looked around 10 or 11, with tiny, skinny, children’s figures.
They alternated on the machines, first running, then on the stair climber, then the bikes. They were all kitted out in gym gear, all swigging water from their bottles like pros.
I ended up totally distracted from my own workout as I watched them go over and start doing weights.
What happened next was the most shocking. A woman who had been on the treadmill since I had arrived got off and went over to the girls. It appeared that she was a parent of one, and chatted to them briefly before switching machines. As I left, she was still sweating away on the stair climber whilst her daughter and friends weighted themselves in front of the mirror, scowling and pinching imaginary fat.
The whole thing made me livid. I wanted to approach the woman and ask her how she could ever think this sort of thing was acceptable? Was she stupid, or just ignorant?
I realise that childhood obesity is a big concern for many parents at the moment. But these girls were just kids. And they were all naturally tiny. Seeing them pull faces in the mirror and poke and prod at their bodies unsatisfactorily made me really, really sad. Negative body image in girls so young is bad enough as it is, however when it is instigated by a parent, the very person who is supposed to guide and protect them, it’s simply not acceptable.
Was this woman right to take her daughter and friends on a night out to the gym? Or should she have left her own vanity secondary to the needs of her child?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this – I’m sure I’m not alone.