America’s top doc told the Herald yesterday that Santa Claus should slim down, in the latest blow struck in a global politically correct crusade against the jolly fat man.
“It is really important that the people who kids look up to as role models are in good shape, eating well and getting exercise. It is absolutely critical,” acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson said in an interview after a presentation on obesity at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Tell me again why that’s absolutely critical? Are there actually any studies showing that beloved icons have a strong direct effect on what children eat?
Or what about studies showing incontrovertibly that Santa’s actually a role model on the order of, say, professional athletes or actors? Are there seriously kids going, “Pass the milk and cookies — I WANT TO BE LIKE SANTA”?
No, I don’t believe there are. I believe there are kids going, “Pass the milk and cookies ’cause they fucking taste good, and I’m a child who needs more dietary fat than adults do and would rather not develop an eating disorder by being trained to believe all fat — the dietary kind or adipose tissue — is utterly horrifying.” Or at least, you know, the first part of that. But I really, really do not believe there are children saying, “I want to be an old, fat man who lives at the North Pole when I grow up. And to do so, I must get started now on a strict regimen of fatty foods and as little exercise as possible.”
Seriously. It’s absolutely critical that role models be seen eating healthy foods and exercising? (Not to mention being “in shape,” which of course translates to “thin,” even though scientists are actually catching on to the fact that fitness and fatness aren’t mutually exclusive.) Because… why? The studies demonstrating this are where? And those studies have what to say about all the role models who keep thin by eating virtually nothing and doing lots of coke, or the ones who keep “fit” by abusing steroids? Santa is a worse role model than those people because… wait, what?
Health experts concur.
“I thoroughly agree he should lose weight and we should find ways to make healthy foods more palatable to children,” said Dr. Meredith Harris, associate professor at Northeastern University.
Yeah. As I was saying over at Rio’s place yesterday, you know how you make healthy foods more palatable to children? PUT SOME FAT ON THEM. Otherwise, all the role models in the world aren’t going to make children prefer naturally bitter food to naturally tasty food. For Christ’s sake.
Also, you gotta love this, from Donna Rheaume, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (who, to her credit, at least declares Santa “fine just the way he is”):
“We would recommend people leave him healthier snacks this year like a nice apple or carrot and celery sticks, which have an added benefit because they are tasty for his reindeer, too.”
Psst, guys… Santa’s not real.
And beyond that, as I said in comments at Rachel’s when this first came up, we always left a carrot for Rudolph along with the milk and cookies for Santa. (See? BALANCE, people!) And yet — even though my dad’s approximately as discriminating as your average billy goat when you put a plate of food, any food, in front of him (and going strong at 72, I might add) — I am pretty sure his Santa-impersonating m.o. was to eat the cookies, drink the milk, and put the carrot back in the fridge.
The food and fat police are simply never gonna get around that fact. But if they’d take a fucking deep breath and get real, they might see that they really don’t need to.