Pluto, the 2006 demoted and subsequently dubbed dwarf planet has not gone down without a fight; (where are we now?: Lost one; looks like 8 planets left in our solar system?) The surprises keep coming: Scientists found a fourth moon—calling it “mini-moon”—orbiting the plutoid today.
It was 1992. We would hop the train to the Hayden Planetarium on Central Park West. Six year old me—always insecure about my large size comparative to my classmates—adored our trips to the Natural History Museum. In nature, I could go somewhere else—far from my body (I thought).
While Earth (rocks, plants, animals) would fascinate me, Space would captivate me; I even had a wall-length poster of the post-Star Gazer constellation map hanging directly beside my bed at which I would stare mid-afternoons or late mornings.
Sitting with my class trip buddy—the kid with whom you were commanded to hold hands in fear of being snatched and plastered on a milk carton—I would lean and gaze upward—aided by the special reclining seats at the Space Theater, this dome in my sky, wondering what it would feel like to be up there.
I was a pudgy youth. My schoolmates made this clear to me. Outside to the left of the Space Theater, after a riveting projection of the Big Bang or, I think, colliding galaxies, I saw scale convertors where you got to see how much you weighed on various celestial bodies. (Click this link to get your calculation: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/)
Brought my class trip buddy along, who thankfully was considered a nobody-weirdo like me, and did not draw much attention when we dipped from the line to see what our lot would be in the heavens.
Jupiter’s was humongous; Venus’, less but about the same number [as Earth]; Mars’—wow, now we are talking; Eureka! I found the Moon. There on the Moon, I was something like one-fifth of my weight. "This is where I need to be--somewhere I was “normal,” I thought. (I look back wondering how did, at such a young age, I learn to live so adversarial in relationship to by body, to refer to it as this expendable other, to live outside of it.)
Clearly, this six year old picture of myself is distorted—hinged upon escaping and leaving behind this burdensome vessel—my body. Somehow by casting myself into space, I imagined I would escape not only my physical form but the other taxing elements in my early life.
To think that we can isolate or put into a vacuum, for example, eating-related pathologies or excessive weight gain from the emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc—literally by removing ourselves from Earth—from what we all over experience is misguided and also, believe it or not, mass produced.
A first grader did not in an isolated chamber develop these injurious and cancerous self-images. What signals were she receiving? From where?
This age group transitions from primarily home children to full-time school children; and, thus, they are developing new reference groups and standards and evaluation tools for learning about abilities and skills.
The effects of peers (positive/negative) and other societal forces (positive/negative) on self-composition as a child reverberate--sometimes even until adulthood where one finds herself no longer holding hands at the Hayden but a quarter of a century old, disembodied and still pulling the pieces together.
Interesting study on this very topic!
In terms of the media or societal influences, examples presented in the thesis:
(1) YMCA health and fitness initiatives are discussed regarding how potentially harmful presenting a one-size fits all (mainstream cultural) approach that favors thinness and not necessarily health could be on a child's self-image.
(2) The impact of toys (ex. Barbies) in fostering dissatisfaction with one's body image
“My Body, My Weight: Body Perception Among African-American and Caucasian First-Graders and Their Parents,”
by Dawnavan Scott Davis, Master of Science, Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, October 2, 2003
Here's the abstract:
"Research suggests that body dissatisfaction can develop by first-grade...There was no main effect for race on child body ideal. No main effect emerged for gender on child body ideal or body satisfaction.
Only a few significant correlations emerged between child body image and parental factors.
Other factors such as mass media and peer group may be more salient in influencing body image among young children."
This Wellness blog is to share the author's trials and triumphs in becoming more present and centering her daily routines around health practices that build from the inside out.
It is her hope to spark dialogue and resource sharing as well as encouragement for those newly embarking on their journey toward healing all over.
(This is a personal blog with resources for educational purposes only.)