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Television - Don't Do as Honey Boo Boo Do

HERE COMES HONEY BOO BOO is a television show which studies the life of Alana Thompson, the six-year-old pageant sensation, who has sparked controversy and excitement, and has allowed TLC to capitalize on redneck stereotypes.
I don’t know what to be more concerned with on this television show: exploitation of a seven year old child, offensive stereotypes of the South, profane language, glorified or at least normalized teenage pregnancy, or undignified treatment of “Sugar Bear.”

Critics of the television show note that it doesn’t accurately portray the small, family-oriented county, which many describe as “full of church-goers and all around good people.”

Honey Boo Boo reminds me of what all our kids could become without proper parental support and supervision. She forces all of us to face what happens when we fail to aspire to achieve greatness, and instead, we become the least of what we could be. I am truly dismayed that Honey Boo Boo could become a legitimate cultural phenomenon.

What is also disconcerting on this television show  is the celebration of her morbidly obese mother named June, who encourages her children in their detrimental behaviors. Some have voiced concern that Honey Boo Boo might end up turning tricks or spinning on a pole; I’d be a bit more concerned that she might develop life-threatening diabetes or other related health conditions which make it impossible for her to be a productive, working citizen.

And obesity rates should be of great concern to all of us. It is estimated that 35.7% of U.S. adults and almost 17% of U.S. children and teens are obese. It has been reported that, “Americans living in the 10 metro areas where obesity rates are highest cumulatively pay an estimated $1 billion more in healthcare costs each year as a result of high obesity levels than they would if their obesity rates were 15%.” This estimate is based on information provided by the National Institute of Health which has concluded that obesity could cost $1,429 per person per year in additional healthcare costs.

Getting a child to do the right thing is never easy. My parents made us read one hour each day to get one hour of T.V. time. I remember my dad piling trail mix on the table and requiring me to eat it before I could have ice cream. There were fights about not leaving the table until my beets were consumed and memories of holding my nose, forcing myself to swallow a variety of disgusting vegetables, all the while trying not to barf.

Admittedly I still struggle to understand how best to instill good habits in my own children, but I think it starts with parents setting a good example. My father worked hard all day and ate any vegetable put before him. And although I avoid many of the tactics my parents chose, I cannot help but admit that the example my parents set and the tactics they used must have worked. My brother and I both developed solid eating habits where food is not the enemy and healthy life-style choices are ever-present.

Unlike June, my mother encouraged us to eat fresh food from the garden, avoiding processed food bought on the cheap. She made us play outside, locking us out if necessary. The television was not turned on until late evening, when it was too dark to play outside, and we were encouraged to explore our neighborhood with our friends.

Honey Boo Boo should sadden, not inspire us. If we see this as entertainment, or worse, if we accept obesity and bad parenting as the social norm, all the healthy foods in school cafeterias and calorie counts on McDonald menus will do little to stem the tide of obesity in America.  And twenty years from now Honey Boo Boo, overweight and uninspired, will be sitting on a couch eating Funyuns watching the next reality television phenom wondering what her life could have been if both she and her parents had made better choices for her life.
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