Where does your brain go when you hear the “F” word. Sometimes my mind goes to FUCK. Did my kid hear that word in my house and repeat it. I remember when I said fuck growing up at home my dad made me look the word up in the dictionary, FOUND UNDER CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, and left it at that. The word has become a regular used reaction for some people, a part of everyday lingo, or something that you can disapprove of but its power has diminished over time. The F word I am talking about isn’t Fuck, that would be way to easy, its Fat.
Growing up my experience with body, food, and the relationship between was very positive. I would almost call it a body positive household. It wasn’t understood the importance of using words like strong and not criticizing peoples weight. My mom always seemed comfortable in her own skin and showed us that skin. I didn’t think that my body was something to be hidden or be mad at, it just was. We definitely used terms like, “the clean plate club” and drank soda, those things weren’t criminal 30+ years ago. I never doubted if my body was anything but the way it was supposed to be. Let me tell you, I wasn’t a string bean, but a chubby girl with very developed breasts at a young age.
my own experience has been a mixed bag, but mostly good. I became aware of weight in general later in life, probably high school or after. I have found self esteem in my personality and the way I looked seemed to be more fluid regardless. I think that middle school is awful for most, high school wasn’t a great period for me (I will need to get more confident in this blogging thing before that) and then I just kinda thinned out. I remember living on my own in Minneapolis and becoming aware that I looked different than some people but didn’t necessarily have a judgement about how that pertained to my own weight. I know this experience is probably not common. Don’t get me wrong, I think I was teased a few times and called fat. Does anyone get through public school with a different experience? With the instagram culture, weight and body image, are volatile and on the surface of every selfie. So I guess, thanks mom, for not giving me any reason to doubt that it was ok to like myself and my body regardless of the size.
Moving along to life as an adult (or the age equivalent of adulthood) I’ve never felt so confused. I have met so many woman with horrible self images, eating disorders, hatred, and constant weight obsession. I have first handily watched someone suffer from an eating disorder that controlled most moments of the waking hours. I have heard stories about woman hating the way they looked as soon as they look in the mirror. I know other woman who’s parents pressured them to be a certain size, that might have been unattainable for them. Unfortunately its all to common, and what the FUCK can we do about it.
My job as a mother has been to prepare my daughters on how to handle life on its terms, as scary as that is. Although I want to control her every experience to avoid pain at all cost, that is doing her an immense disservice. I want her to feel comfortable in her own skin regardless of the size of that skin. I want her in the same breath to take care of her physical health and know the value of exercise and good eating habits. I started my experience with my oldest child avoiding all sugar, using only body positive words, and being very mindful of the way I talked about myself. I will explain the avoid all sugar in a later blog post, but it worked well for us. Orly never heard me attack my body, and I avoided conversations with other woman that did. You would be surprised how often people comment on weight changes, or maybe you wouldn’t be. I didn’t want my daughter to hear me feel better because I was thin, or worse because I was heavier. She isn’t the person I share that journey with.
So you’ll imagine how taken aback I was when my daughter (5 years old) asked me what fat meant. My heart skipped a beat, and my mind raced, where did she hear that? Did someone call her fat? My answer was inline with my beliefs. Fat is a size that refers to how much space someone takes up. I didn’t ask her more questions than I do when she asks what creation means, I simply respond, “to make”. I gave her examples of other descriptors: tall, strong, weak, little. I discussed that fat in our world has a mean attachment, because that is our unfortunate truth. How I can change my daughters experience is showing her that I love myself for who I am, not how I look. I can treat others of all shapes, sizes, religions, races the on how they act not look. I can also let her know that sometimes people tear people down and say mean things, but that’s about them. This F word has baggage and the power to hurt, so we need to treat it with care and understanding.