“Mama, you said a bad word.”
My mind raced through all the muttered curse words I thought she hadn’t heard that day. The mouthed or spelled obscenities shared with other adults in her presence. Fuck, she can spell and read now, dumbass!
I swallowed the mammoth knot in my throat along with my pride, trying to keep my voice even and bright, “Oh, really, what was the word?”
“You said you were “fat”.”
It stopped me. I’ve strived not to put myself down in her presence but she overheard me talking on the phone to a friend about how I was doing my best not to be “depressed and fat feeling” anymore. She heard every word from the other room.
We cuddled, I apologized, and reminded her that “fat” isn’t a bad word. That we need it to live, grow, that it’s energy, that our brains thrive and need it to work. That everyone needs and has fat in them. She listened but I knew my words weren’t truly heard because even at five the messages already bombard her about body image and size. From friends on the playground, cartoons, magazine covers, and products just at a glance in a store.
We talked again about being healthy and what that meant, how not everyone agreed, that she can always ask questions of me and her doctor. She giggled, said “ok”, slid from my lap and went about playing.
Later she asked to change her clothes and I said, “Sure, after lunch.” I was mopping down Owen from his lunch massacre and hauling him from his highchair when I realized he had smeared pasta on me. As I passed through the hallway to switch clothes I caught her peering into our full length mirror. Looking at her body and pushing her stomach in and out with each breath.
She caught me looking and I smiled, “Hi, beautiful, whatcha’ doin’?”
“I’m lovin’ on myself.”
Let’s just stop using any label for sizing other than the actual measurements. Calling any clothing item “small” or “large” is arbitrary at best and subjective at worst.
Amy Schumer’s hurt feelings at being called “plus-sized” recently are understandable and justified since the connotation in our society is that the person is fat, unhealthy, lazy, and unattractive. Yet size doesn’t equate any of those characteristics and the double standard of allowing character assassination of women based on those biases remains.
Embrace the metric system for sizing like the rest of the world and give us the exact measurement of our clothes not our quality as people. And, remember, be kind to yourself so others can learn to do so as well. All of our kids deserve a world that includes them at every size.