What’s the story?
At CNN, a not-unpredictable headline: Boy, 10, loses 11 pounds on month-long mission This month-long mission, you ask? He calls it “Portion Size Me,” after the documentary Supersize Me, which he says inspired him to eat a greater variety of nutritious food and to exercise more. He’s even cooking meals for his family. According to his mom,
The challenge wasn’t about pounds, but making better lifestyle choices, she added. Marshall also wants to become more active and has told his mother he wants to start playing football this year.
So, of course, I don’t really care for the phrase “better lifestyle choices” in general, but I think what Marshall is doing here is pretty neat. He said, Hey, here’s a thing I want to do with my body. I will need to move my body and nourish my body in a lot of new ways if I want to try this new thing, so let’s give it a go! He’s cooking vegetables, people, and he’s liking it.
So why don’t we ever get a headline that says, “Boy, 10, tries new foods and new ways of moving on month-long mission”? Yeah, Marshall’s mom gave the reporter the number, the big 1-1, which is supposed to validate what he is doing. And maybe she is just participating in a narrative about “lifestyle choices” that uses “get healthy” to stand in synonymously for “lose weight.” But it’s telling, isn’t it, that it’s inconceivable to highlight this kid’s enjoyment of cooking and his goal to play football without ceremoniously foregrounding the fact that he has lost 11 pounds in one month. It’s almost like all our energy related to our bodies is supposed to be focused on getting thin or staying thin, and not on eating and doing things that make us feel good. How about that?
So, good on you, Marshall. I hope you keep digging grilled sweet potatoes, corn, portabellos and turkey burgers, and I hope football turns out to be awesome. If one day it turns out you hate sweet potatoes (it’s okay, dude, I’m not wild about them either), or that football isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I hope you discover whole new foods and activities that get you excited. But mostly, I hope that by the time you’re an adult, which really isn’t so far away, we’ll have made “Boy, 10, discovers a love of cooking, wants to play football” a totally reasonable headline for a human interest story like yours.