Columnist Charita Goshay dismays over the controversy about an American Idol winner's weight and the message it sends to young girls.

MeMe Roth, a spokeswoman for the National Action Against Obesity, has been dodging verbal shrapnel ever since she implied that “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, 17, is overweight.

Roth says she’s simply worried about the potential health hazards Sparks could face as a result of excess weight.

Roth is blaming the blowback she’s getting from Sparks’ furious fans on the
Fox Network, where she was first heard expressing concern for a teenager who
has publicly declared that she’s perfectly happy with her body.

Roth’s concerns about obesity are legitimate and well-founded, but what are
the young girls who idolize Sparks supposed to think, given that Sparks
looks well, normal, and nothing is ever made of “American Idol” male
contestants who truly are obese?

Even the youngest girls get that mixed message.

Fat Albert

It’s everywhere. We chuckle at how Al Gore could be mistaken for the
Hindenburg these days, but just let Sen. Hillary Clinton gain 50 pounds and
watch the talk shift from her politics to her waistline.

Condoleezza Rice could single-handedly solve the Middle East crisis, but let
her do so while wearing a muumuu and that’ll be enough basis for, “Sure, she
fostered world peace, but jeez ...”

No matter how many African orphans Oprah Winfrey rescues, her weight will
always be tabloid fodder.

The inequitable pressure on women to be thin is exacerbated by a cultural
mind-set that inexplicably celebrates what writer Tom Wolfe calls the
“Social X-ray.”

Social X-rays aren’t just the jewelry-draped society matrons showcased in
Town & Country. Many are wild-child celebrities such as the Olsen twins,
Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, Nicole Richie and countless other sullen,
spindly-limbed women who, when they aren’t staging ridiculous photo-ops of
themselves eating, seem to subsist primarily on liquor, cigarettes and
attention.

Because such imagery always manages to find its way to young girls, we now
have 9-year-olds on diets and “Ana” Web sites which glorify and showcase
skeletal women suffering from anorexia.

Our uniquely American infatuation with excessive thinness flies in the face
of historical depictions of women’s bodies. Before the advent of the
supermodel, curves were a given.

It makes no sense that as Roth targets a healthy, 17-year-old girl who
doesn’t remotely qualify as obese, celebutarts in danger of falling through
a crack in the floor continue to be held up as the standard of beauty.

Whom would you rather serve as your daughter’s idol?

It's a Big Country

Certainly, most Americans could stand to lose some weight -- we’ve become a
nation of waddlers.

Despite Hollywood’s declaration that thin is in, American rear ends still
are spreading faster than an oil slick. Airlines must expend more fuel to
keep us aloft. We pile our plates like it’s the Last Supper; we’re
collapsing deck chairs on cruise ships for crying out loud.

Our kids are fatter and more unhealthy than ever. According to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control, 17.4 percent of American youth 12 to 19 are
overweight, more than triple the percentage in the 1970s.

Jordin Sparks, however, is not one of those people.

Reach Canton Repository writer Charita Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail:
charita.goshay@cantonrep.com