Will Michelle Obama's Rap Album Against Obesity Help Our Children?
So Michelle Obama is working on releasing a rap album to inspire kids (the target audience) to live healthier lives. She won’t actually be rapping herself, although she will speak a few lyrics. Instead she has recruited musical powerhouses like Jordin Sparks and Travis Barker, among others.
Would such an album, with songs titled “Veggie Love” and “You Are What You Eat,” help discourage kids from making bad food choices? I’m not sure. I have yet to see children run to the vegetable aisle since Cookie Monster traded his cookies for carrots.
Maybe, instead of telling kids that they are what they eat, we work with the public school systems and the food monopolies that control their food supply and change the garbage they offer children through their lunch programs. Maybe, instead of a CD full of advice on eating more vegetables, we address the problems with the food industry in our country so that vegetables are not laced with chemicals and pesticide and are more affordable to everyone – not just an elite few.
Maybe, instead of getting Dr. Oz to talk to our children about healthy habits, we hold him and others in the media accountable for the damaging weight-loss products and promises they consistently serve as shills for on TV and in magazines.
Maybe, instead of applying another well-intentioned Band-Aid, we actually address the overall problem, which is that parents are concerned about the food that they feed their children but have little access to good food options; that food stamps don’t allow for low-income families to make the best food choices, because it is not covered by the program – though many highly processed, incredibly unhealthy food options are; that fast-food entities overwhelm low-income, urban neighborhoods and deplete the community of any opportunity for accessibility and affordability for something better; that our government is in the pocket of the corporate food system, an effect felt in many places, from our public school lunch rooms to our supermarket choices; that only the wealthy have access to organic, vegan and other choices through prohibitively expensive markets located exclusively in prohibitively expensive areas.
You can pass a kid a CD about how they “are what they eat,” but if the only choices you give them are bad ones and if the only thing their parents can afford is crap, then you do nothing but damage them emotionally as well as physically.
I am a fan of Mrs. Obama, but I am not a fan of this ideology that it takes a song and dance to fix the problem. As a mother of three boys, in a family of five, I am very much aware of the cost and effort that it takes to deliver quality, healthy food, much of which is not covered by coupons or market specials. I wish a rap CD could change that, but it assumes that we, the public, wield all the control. And though we do have a responsibility to make the best possible choices we can for our family, those who often preach this message from their soapboxes fail to realize that very few families actually have the luxury to do so.