A Diet App for Children? Are you Friggin Kidding me?

I just found out that the Kurbo by WW app exists from this Atlantic article (which has a great overview of the app and the issues with it) and I'm slightly horrified. It’s aimed at children 8-17. Apparently you need to sign up /with/ a parent if you’re 13, but in my experience, age restrictions on tech like that are super easy to get around. And even if a parent DOES sign you up, are they realistically going to be there with the kid at every moment supervising them on the app?

The basic idea behind the app (putting foods in green, yellow, and red categories based on nutritional value and encouraging users to eat yellow and red in moderation) isn't /terrible/ but marketing it to children as opposed to parents is pretty...awful. And to kids as young as *8*? Are you friggin kidding me? I've used the WW program before and found it pretty positive and helpful (with just a lot of caveats in there about my own depression and ADHD issues which sticking to any healthy diet long term difficult), but I'm pretty appalled they're doing this. I could /maybe/ see the idea behind marketing it to teenagers 15 and up with their own access to money, but from just a basic administration issue, the vast majority of kids don't buy or prepare their own food?

Plus this whole thing just seems really problematic and trigeringg. Even WITHOUT the 24/7 news cycle and social media of today, I remember being unhappy with my size and my weight starting at least back to age 9. I clearly remember the first time I looked at a picture of myself and hated the way I looked (it was from summer camp, I was sitting on a horse and wearing black shorts and a colorful shirt and I thought my legs looked "huge"). I am much happier and more confident with myself, my life, and my appearance than I ever was as a child, but I STILL fight disordered eating habits all the time. Aiming a weight loss app at a child is just one of the worst things I can imagine. Let. Them. Be. Children. And don’t give them a friggin complex over their appearance at an age that’s so difficult already.

I'm a ChildFree MomFriend and That's Just Fine With Me.

I used to think I really wanted kids, but over time, as I grew up and realized that I didn’t have to want the same things as everyone else, I determined that it was a lot more complicated than that.

Now, I’m not anti-kids at all.My nieces are one of the best parts of my life and I really enjoy talking to children. They’re hilarious. But I also really enjoy handing them back to the parents at the end of the day and going home with my husband to a quiet house. I totally support any of my friends who want to have kids and will cheer them on and give their kids stuffed animals and personalized onesies galore, but it’s just not for me. And John agrees as well!

Me as a kid, with my dad. I was a handful, can you tell? And let’s just be honest, if John and I procreated, our child would be way too smart and mischievous for anyone’s good.

Me as a kid, with my dad. I was a handful, can you tell? And let’s just be honest, if John and I procreated, our child would be way too smart and mischievous for anyone’s good.

I DO have some very maternal qualities, and I really enjoy taking care of other people. A friend labeled me “a momfriend” not too long ago, and I loved it. I want to check in on my friends and make sure they’re doing okay; I definitely worry about them and try to help them whenever I can. I love having a house that my friends feel comfortable in and I hope they realize that they can always come over if they need to get away from their parents or roommates or boyfriends or whatever. I like feeding people! I also adore my cats and mother them ferociously. But just because I have those qualities doesn’t mean I want to be an actual parent.

First, I have lots of medical issues, y’all. Chronic neck pain from osteoarthritis, clinical depression (which is controlled and generally stable now, but still exists and is a real concern in my life), ADHD, the New Fun Unnamed Chronic Pain is still rearing its ugly head pretty regularly, bad allergies, plantar fascitis (so my feet hurt all the time, yay), occasional tendinitis in my wrists, and now I have this deviated septum thing that needs to be fixed. Have I mentioned I also have a bicuspid aortic heart valve? I literally have a valve in my heart that’s SUPPOSED to be 3-sided but is actually 2-sided. This doesn’t generally cause a problem, but it does make me more prone to infections and such. And I’m 31! Like - who knows what else is wrong with me that I just haven’t discovered yet? I may develop something new tomorrow. And pregnancy and a baby would literally make all of those issues worse. It wouldn’t improve /any/ of them.

Second, partly because of said medical issues, partly because of…just my own personal feelings, pregnancy is like one of the most terrifying things in the world to me. My body does PLENTY of things on its own already that I don’t want it to do; the thought of actually losing it to another being is really unpleasant. Every time I hear about someone’s pregnancy or what it does to them, I just….ugh, no. It sounds awful. No, thank you. I’ve already firmly decided that if I ever DO change my mind and want a child (not likely), adoption is the way we’re going. I know it’s expensive and not easy, but pregnancy is just not a thing I’m ever willing to go through. My feelings might rise to the level of an actual phobia of pregnancy, honestly; it’s called tokophobia! It sounds like it’s hellish for people who WANT kids but are terrified of pregnancy/childbirth; I feel lucky that that’s not my situation.

I did almost buy this father’s day card for John and sign it from the cats, but I just sent him a picture to save $5 instead, lol. (He HATES the entire concept of calling pets your children, hah).

I did almost buy this father’s day card for John and sign it from the cats, but I just sent him a picture to save $5 instead, lol. (He HATES the entire concept of calling pets your children, hah).

Third, from a purely practical standpoint, life is expensive and my husband and I are often struggling even just with us two. And we’re lawyers! We’re better paid than many! But our house has lots of issues that still need to be fixed and my body persists in developing new problems that require lots of money, so money is still a serious concern. I can’t even comprehend the idea of trying to fit a kid into our budget.

Finally, I just really like my life the way it is. I enjoy having time to spend with my husband and with my friends. I like being able to participate in community theater. I love that my day job is flexible enough that I can also fit in writing on this blog and creative writing! I want to travel the world and see everything out there. These things are all certainly possible with children, but they are certainly much more difficult. And it should be! I value children enough to know that having them shouldn’t be a default or an afterthought. I don’t want to have kids unless I KNOW I really want them and am wiling to put in the time and money and effort needed to being the best parent I can be for that kid (not in a pinterest perfect way but in a “I need to help this tiny human become a decent person” way). And I’m not willing to do that, so - nope! No thanks. I’ll spoil my family’s kids and friends’ kids instead. :)

Book Review: Selfish Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision NOT to Have Kids

So this book pretty much has nothing to do with marriage (I believe it's mentioned a few times?) but it does address something society often thinks goes hand in hand with it: Parenthood. Neither John nor I are currently interested in having children; a stance that fortunately, few people have commented negatively on at this point. However, I'm sure that the closer we get to getting married, the more likely we are to get such comments, so I feel the need to prepare myself by reading up on this whole subject more. Plus I really just wanted to read this book. 


What is this book about? 

Pretty much exactly what it sounds like! It includes short stories from 13 female writers and 3 male writers (some straight, some gay, some non-attached) on their decision not to have children. They're all professional writers so these are all excellently written.

As the introduction says, musing over a version of Leo Tolstoy's famous "happy families" line ("People who want children are all alike. People who don't want children don't want them in their own way."), "..I've come to suspect that the majority of people who have kids are driven by any of just a handful of reasons, most of them connected to old-fashioned biological imperative. Those of us who choose not to become parents are a bit like Unitarieans or nonnative Californians; we tend to arrive at our destination via our own meandering, sometimes agonizing paths." 

Some of them are more torn about their decision than others. A few made their decision as children, while some came very close to having children before deciding it wasn't for them. There are a few which talk about having had abortions. A lot of these stories are tough to read. The introduction also notes, "Some of these essays will no doubt enrage certain readers. Some enraged me in places, which I took as all the more reason they should be included. But all of them, without exception, left me feeling a little bit in love with their authors."

Who would love this book?

Anyone who does not want children, is considering not having children (It feels so weird phrasing it that way, since people have to pretty much take some action to actually have them!), or is open to learning more about the phenomenon.

My Favorite Parts

"You'd be such a good mother, if only you weren't you" by M.G. Lord is so beautiful and sad that it's still haunting me after finishing it over a week ago. It talks quite memorably about the author's experiences with depression so deep that it took away her ability to see color. 

"Babes in the Woods" by Courtney Hodell also left me feeling like I'd been punched in the chest with emotion. I identify with her feelings of being left behind after her beloved older brother had a child so deeply. You aren't supposed to have emotions like that. I read this story and nearly cried afterward; it all felt so familiar.

As she says, "Now my brother was thinking and feeling things I never would. In college he'd taught me how to speak, but this was something I could never say aloud: Don't leave me behind. The only recourse was to love this little scrap of a human, and in the first really adult way I would love anyone. Without expectations of returned affection. Without wounded vanity. With foreknowledge of impending boredom, of exasperation, of anger that I could not allow myself to nurse. In the understanding that I would sometimes be ridiculous in her eyes. Knowing I did not have the rights of parenthood, I could make no demands of her beyond those any grown-up would make of a child: Hold my hand; we're crossing the street."

Does it talk about marital surname changes at all? 

Nope. Not related to the topic of this blog at all. Oh well. Every writer reserves the right to go examine other subjects occasionally.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Selfish-Shallow-Self-Absorbed-Sixteen-Decision-ebook/dp/B00JI0W6VE