This story originally appeared at LittleThings.
Sonni Abatta is a mommy blogger with an important message to share about body positivity for young girls.
Sonni was out shopping recently when she spotted something strange. The store was selling a pink lunch box with the words “Cheat Day” in gold sequins. The display also featured several other pink lunch boxes and a bunch of candy, so it seemed designed to appeal to little girls.
“See this?” Sonni wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. “This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl’s lunch box that I saw for sale at a popular department store.”
Sonni felt “sickened” that the words “Cheat Day” were on a lunch box, and in her post she went on to lay out all the reasons why.
She said, “We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence. THIS. This is part of the reason why.”
She also pointed out the particular stresses on little girls to watch their weight, starting at an extremely young age.
“Girls–you are MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions,” she insisted.
People couldn’t agree more with her post.
With the advent of the body positivity movement, diet culture is finally starting to chill out a bit, but it’s still common practice for women to spend most of their week dieting and reserve one special day of the week for a “cheat day.”
A cheat day is, of course, when you can eat anything that you want to, calories/sugar/health risks be damned. It’s usually full of donuts or bread or fast food or whatever other “vice” most diets don’t usually allow for.
But for the most part, cheat days are reserved for adults who are old enough to make their own decisions about what to put into their bodies and when.
That’s why Sonni Abatta was deeply disturbed when she saw a pink, sequined lunch box at the store that said “Cheat Day.”
The lunch box appears to be marketed toward little girls — it is, after all, bright pink with gold sequins. It was also surrounded by candy and other cute lunch boxes.
Sonni was furious.
“I am SICKENED that this phrase is on a lunch box,” she wrote on Facebook.
“We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence. We wonder, ‘Why do our girls worry so much about their bodies so young?’ … ‘Why does my five year old call herself ‘fat?’” … ‘Why does my middle schooler stand in front of the mirror and find all her flaws?’”
“THIS. This is part of the reason why. Our world is telling our girls that it’s ‘cheating’ if they eat something that’s not 100% fat-free and perfectly healthy. In turn, that tells them that self-control and denying herself is to be valued above all. And that if she dares to step outside of the foods that will keep her perfectly slim and trim, then she is by default ‘cheating’ and needs to feel some sense of remorse.”
Sonni went on:
“Look, I’m not saying a diet of strictly sugar and chips is right either; but by God, why would a company ever pile onto our girls’ already-fragile senses of self by making her feel as though she’s ‘cheating’ by eating something that’s–gasp–not made of vegetables and air?”
“‘You’re overreacting!’ you might say. To which I say, No. We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls.”
“Can you imagine a similar message directed toward little boys? For the record, I’d be equally offended… but I haven’t seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look.”
Sonni finished by directing her words straight to the little girls of the world, who might come across a lunch box like this while they’re shopping with their moms. Her words resonated with tons of other women, and they went viral.
“So here’s what I want to say, and what I will tell my girls. Girls–you are not ‘cheating’ when you enjoy good food. You are not ‘cheating’ when you eat pizza. You are not ‘cheating’ when you have a cookie, or two, on occasion. You are not ‘cheating’ when you live in moderation and allow yourself things that make you happy.
“Girls–you are MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions. More than the clothes you wear and the things you [buy] and the other girls you hang out with.”
“You are beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and whole beings–whole beings who are worthy of so much love and respect, no matter what anyone, or anyTHING, says.”
In response to Sonni’s post, several women shared stories of their own daughters’ early struggles with body image. Sadly, girls as young as 5 and 7 years old are worried about their weight.
There are many reasons why this happens — commercials, magazines, other kids, critical parents. But items like the “Cheat Day” lunch box don’t help.
To be fair, some women pointed out that the lunch box might have been intended for adult women but was placed in the wrong section of the store.
But regardless, the idea of cheat days is clearly trickling down to children, and it’s not OK. Like Sonni says, we have to do better for young girls.