Yes, it's true! Thank you CBS for broadcasting FREE eating disorder lessons for our little girls on Saturday mornings, in the form of the show "Horseland" during the "Kewlopolis" block of cartoons for children (because, of course, it is so "kewl" to have an eating disorder).
According to the TV Parental Guidelines, this show is rated Y7... for kids ages 7 and up. So yes, even your 7-year-old is ripe and ready for some body-hate lessons on the weekends! So turn on your TV, because we *all* want our daughters to look like this:
All nice and thin, with sticks for thighs and waists 1/5th the size of their heads. Gorgeous little things, aren't they? Anyway, the lesson doesn't end with the visual assault of anorexic-looking "cool" pre-teen girls (which we all want for role models for our young, grade-school and pre-teen daughters, the set this show is aimed at). No. You get actual lessons in anorexia from the talking horses on this show!
A couple of weeks ago I was channel surfing and came across this cute show about pretty horsies. I am not really into pretty horsies like I was when I was 9, so I was about to change the channel, when I heard this come out of the mouth of a perky little cat on the show, who was swishing her tail and holding her head high in pride: "Cats are naturally slim!" I paused to listen, as the animals on the show looked over one of the horses, and the judgement started.
"Looks like you've put on a few pounds," they say to the horse. "We'll have you back in shape in no time." And one of the animals replies, "She already has a shape: round!" They all laugh.
The embarrassed horse, by the way, looks no fatter than any of the other horses. But the taunting continues. As she is training to jump the hurdles, the skinny girls get in some weight-related jabs: "I hope her belly doesn't hit the bar when she goes over!" Then the girls all laugh at the horse. (Yes, your child gets NOT ONLY a lesson in eating disorders, but ALSO a lesson in how to taunt and make fun of someone who is fat!) The out-of-shape horse IS struggling to get over the bars a bit. "Those bars must have gotten higher," she exclaims, panting, after trying to jump them. But her cute horsie friends just reply, "maybe you've just gotten wider. Once you lose a few pounds you shouldn't have any problems. Or you could just use the extra weight to plow through all the obstacles." (Cue horsie laughter).
What do you think so far? Good lesson? It gets better.
How To Become Anorexic, as taught by the cute horsies:
Back in the barn, the tired, "fat" horse says, "I'm really looking forward to dinner tonight." But the skinny girl has decided to cut back on her oats to help her lose the weight she gained. This makes the horse even more miserable, as she complains, "It wasn't my fault.. how come I have to be the one to suffer? Everyone's making such a big deal about a few extra pounds." At bedtime, she is so hungry that she can't sleep. Looking rather depressed, she sneaks out of the barn for a midnight snack. "Besides", she says, "everybody already thinks I'm fat. What's the use of denying myself a little nibble?"
In the morning, our "fat" horse tries to run and jump with the other horses, but she can't run as fast as they can, and she is afraid to try jumping the river. Time for a little taunting from the other girls and horses: "Maybe she could float over! She's as big as a balloon!" Insulted, the horse tries to jump the river, but doesn't make it. She falls in, and everyone laughs at her.
Later, when the other horses are eating, the skinny girl/owner says to her "fat" horse, "I don't know whats wrong with you! You can't do anything right lately. You're making me look bad!" She walks away. Dismayed, the horse says to herself, "It's all my fault because of all this extra weight. I've got to stop eating so much. No, I've got to stop eating, period!" The horse dumps her food on the ground, eating nothing. "I've got to lose this weight fast and make her proud of me again."
The next day, our anorexic horsie is licking the grass to pretend she is eating. "I've got too many pounds to lose," she tells herself. "The grass sure does look yummy. No! I'm not going to do it! I've got to think of something to take my mind off food."
The other horses notice that she is not eating, and tell her she should eat some healthy food, like grass. But she is not persuaded. "You just want me to be out of shape and fat so you can win!" she runs off. Suddenly the other horses have a bit of sense come into their heads. One of them says to the others, "She's sensitive because she feels overweight and out of shape. Encourage her instead of teasing her." Gee, ya think?
After a day of running around, our anorexic horse is looking bad. She says she is "so tired and hungry," but when the skinnygirl brings her grain for dinner in the barn, she knocks it on the floor and buries it in dirt and hay. She doesn't eat at all. "I don't want to regain the weight I lost with all that running." She looks into a bucket of water, and sees her reflection, distorted, looking fat and ugly. For days, she runs and runs, dumps her food each night and hides it. The other horses are worried about her, and try to convince her to stop, but she thinks they are just jealous that she is "getting back in shape." She calls herself an "out of shape butterball." (Yes, with this show you even get FREE new vocabulary for your child to use on herself or any friend who gains weight).
Finally, all her hard work pays off! She is thin again! The praise begins, as her skinnygirl owner saddles her up for a race and notices that the saddle fits her again. "Pepper! You're your normal self again!" she says. She gives her a treat for being thin... a carrot... but the horse refuses to eat it. But that's okay. She gets lots of praise for being thin again.
They get ready for the racing tryout for the State Finals. "I want you to look beautiful when we cross the finish line," her owner says, brushing her mane. But her hair is falling out. Later, the horse stumbles, but says, "I'm not some roly-poly pushover anymore. I'm a mean lean racing machine!" (Yes, because we all know that people who do not race are roly-poly. They are butterballs. They are pushovers. Remember that, little girls!) But oddly enough, our pretty horsie has no energy. She is breathing hard and she can't finish the race. She collapses in a heap. "I'm really tired and hungry. I haven't eaten very much lately. I just wanted to lose weight. I didn't want you to make fun of me for being fat anymore." (Is this supposed to be a lesson in compassion, hidden within the intense focus on thinness and name calling?) "We didn't mean it," say the other horses, "we were JUST teasing."
Later, the girls find apples and carrots buried in the hay and realize the horse was not eating. They take the blame, because of course, the horse got "fat" from the girl not exercising her enough.
Now we are at the end of the show. Just one more lesson for your little girl.
A fat pig is wallowing in the mud, and the Naturally Slim Cat tells the pig that she should exercise a little more. The pig says, "there's a right size and shape for everyone!" (Finally! A bit of body acceptance, perhaps?) The pig continues, "Imagine if I were as slim as you!" The Cat asks, "And what would be wrong with that?" Pig replies, "I wouldn't look like my beautiful, round, piggy self anymore!"
(Yes, of course! Because if a chubby girl is watching this show, now she feels all sorts of love for her beautiful, ROUND, PIGGY SELF.)
Yep. It's a real show, and yes, I sat here watching it and taking notes so I could accurately quote what is being taught to children all over America. What do you think?
On a final note, (as I thought this would be the end of the post), I did think that this surely must be an isolated Eating Disorder Lesson, even though the show is all about ultra thin popular girls and their horses... all about looks and "beauty." But just last weekend, I surfed into this show one more time. After five minutes, I was done.
Fat piggy says: "Breakfast is my favorite time of day, next to lunch and dinner and midnight snack!" He is eating with gusto, his face covered in slop. A skinny girl comes by and mentions that she is going to start giving the pig a new food, with less fat, and filled with nutrients. The pig, hearing this, is distraught. "Why!! WHY oh WHY!" he sobs. "Nothing can be as good as THIS!", he exclaims, as he continues to lick the empty trough. (Because we all know that pigs are the ones obsessed with food and eating.)
I turned it off.
Thanks, CBS, for helping us bring up a whole new generation of anorexics and bulimics, and giving the other kids ammo to fuel their pain.
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