Tag Archives: overweight

My Daughter Called Someone Fat

It was a beautiful autumn Friday in New England.  My daughter had just completed two successful, confidence-inspiring hours of gymnastics at the Little Gym.  (In a blue shiny leotard we had just purchased, nonetheless!)  We walked back to the car, hand-in-hand; I was proud of this time.  She was a baby who had low muscle tone, and I had put her in gymnastics purposefully.  Now, she was doing flips over the bars.

As I unlocked the car, Fiona started to gaze off into the distance.  Stare, in fact.  I followed her gaze to her classmate and parents, who were walking together.

A slow smirk spread over her face, as her gaze focused on the obese father.

“Mama, he’s fat.” She continued smirking, and an implied sense of power washed over her as she realized she was NOT and he WAS.

Not my daughter.

******

For those of you who don’t know, I was a FAT kid.   I was mocked for it by classmates, I was deemed “disgusting”, I was even sexually assaulted by a classmate in music class “because I was fat.”  (Because I deserved it, because I was fat.)

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There are people who will view this who will argue with me and say that there’s no negative connotation with being fat.  They will tell me that I’m too sensitive and that I put too many expectations on my daughter and I say to them, I AM DONE WITH YOU.

I LIVED it and I continue to live it every time I lose 5 pounds and I am praised for it.  I continue to live it every time I gain weight and I notice people give me less compliments about my appearance.  You are bullshitting yourself if you think there is no negative connotation with being fat.  There is less today, but it still exists.

When Fiona uttered this sentence, I panicked.  Where did she pick this up?  I, for one, don’t use the word fat.  I use the word heavy and overweight, but not fat, because I know what it carries with it. We also refer to foods as being healthy, or having “vitamins to make you run fast”.  Had she picked it up from her friends?  Seen it on an ad?  I was a little stunned, and a little disgusted, even know the intellectual side of me knew she was four years old.  She reminded me of that blonde in my class on the playground who always made fun of my awkward body during Project Adventure.

“Fiona, we do not say that.  That is not nice.  Get in the car.”

I buckled her up, prayed, and said to myself – Do not be hard on her.  Do not project your experience on her and shame her.  Just be honest, factual, and tell her your experience.

“Fiona, I have to tell you a story.”

“What?”

“A long time ago, Mama was overweight when she was a kid.  A lot of people made fun of Mama and called her fat and it made Mama feel really, really bad.  So I know how it feels, and it doesn’t feel good.  That’s why we don’t call people fat.”

I don’t know if was blood memory, or a sudden lightbulb that went off in her head, but Fiona’s face turned ashen.  Her face crumpled, and she GOT IT.  Like, mourned for her mother got it.  Like, cried all the way home got it.  I immediately felt horrid, even know I know I maintained an even tone (isn’t this motherhood thing fucked?)

On the way home, she turned her face into the seat, ashamed.  I tried to reiterate my unconditional love for her. “Baby, Mama doesn’t think any differently of you – Mama would love you even if you punched somebody!  It’s just important we’re kind to people.”  It didn’t seem to help.  She whimpered and finally started to come around after I distracted her with a joke.

*****

Parenthood is brutal.  It’s even more brutal with a trauma history you have to dissect and not project onto your kids whilst maintaining some sort of a lesson for them when they’re unkind.  Childhood is brutal too – imagine not knowing you were being unkind, and then being told you were being unkind in a way that hurt your parent when they were kids?  Imagine being so innocent and then not, knowing your Mama was hurt for the way she looked?  And would that happen to you?

Yesterday, someone on my husband’s facebook feed disagreed with the meme that Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault leading to the actual crime did not matter, and that words are very different from actions.  I sit here enraged, thinking about that, because I know the effect of words.  Words that lead to sexual assault.  “FAT” leading to “less than” leading to “it’s ok to touch her in a sexual way because she’s less than”.

Not my daughter.

 

 

 

F%$#ed up. Period.

Who’s happier?

I realized something recently.

You know that weight I dropped after delivering Fiona?  The freakish amount I blogged about in a previous entry?  The weight loss that everyone commented on positively?

I hadn’t weighed that little since I was sick.  I only knew this because I fit into clothes I hadn’t dared to try on since then, such as dresses I couldn’t let go of for sentimental reasons.

So, what that comes down to is –

Everyone told me I looked good at the weight I don’t get my period at.

Now THAT is fucked up.

*****

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t judge the people who complimented me – I blame society.  There were several times in history when Rubenesque women were believed to be the highest standard of beauty.  We forget that, in this angular, both-ends-of-the-extreme, carb-obsessed world we live in.

So, if we are to take my personal example, society endorses a woman’s beauty when she is at the weight where she is unable to reproduce.

Is this is end of feminism?

No, really – what this says to me is that we are rejecting a woman when she is healthy enough to do the thing most unique and miraculous about being a woman (in some opinions); bearing children.

And if you want to take it a step further, society is rejecting reproduction, thus, the end of society.

You may laugh, you may think my analysis overdone, but I know better.

*****

I once heard at a self-help group, “When I look the best on the outside I’m usually doing the worst on the inside.”  How true.

When I am not eating, or conversely binging on pastries, when I am not exercising because I’m stressed out by motherhood, when I am forgetting to take my vitamins because I’ve let my self-care go to shit, when I am not connecting to people and isolating, that is when people tell me I look good.  Is it the circles under my eyes that make me look sexier?  Is it the way my clothes droop off me because none of them fit me anymore? Is it the fact that I don’t get my period and am basically androgynous now? Or is it my hair that’s falling out at a rapid clip?  Tell me which one.

When I am taking my vitamins, eating my daily breakfast of peanut butter oatmeal to keep my cholesterol down, when I am eating three meals and three snacks a day, when I am exercising regularly – that is when nobody comments on my weight because it is simply and humbly normal, a weight that rests between bone-thin and overweight.  It doesn’t look spectacular in a swimsuit, but it doesn’t look half bad in an evening gown either.  It’s so in-between it’s almost mundane.  Maybe that’s what our problem is.  We’re all afraid of not standing out, of being just another worker among workers.  We don’t have the courage to be normal.

Now that’s fucked up.  Period.

(Image provided by Google Images)

*Fat People – Why Do You Make Fun of Them?

No, really, I want to know.

I think I was born without the gene that gives you satisfaction from making fun of others’ appearances.  I’m not saying I’m holier than thou – because I’m not – there are some other choice slang words I could benefit from losing from my vocabulary.  But I’ve never made fun of someone’s weight after a few choice observations I made as a child.  I just haven’t.  And actually, I can’t credit myself; I credit my mother.  Anyone who knows Donna Bruce knows that she is a kind woman who cares about how others feel.  Once, after seeing a particularly overweight person and commenting on it as children do, my mother said, “Amanda, that’s just not a nice thing to say.  That could hurt their feelings.”

It seemed simple enough to me.  So I stopped.

I also never did again because I was an overweight child before struggling with an eating disorder.  I was berated by my numerous classmates and strangers for the way I looked, and I couldn’t see causing harm to others the way they did me.  Plus, I just assumed I would feel fucking shitty (note: slang words to lose) if I did make fun of someone based on their weight.  So, I am honestly, seriously curious – if you do it, what do you get out of it?  Is it a way to feel better than, temporarily superior for a moment?  Is it because you feel uncomfortable with something that has nothing to do with you?  I am not looking for an opportunity to engage in a fight with someone over this – I just want to know.

Again, I am not pro-fat or pro-out-of-shape-ness.  I just don’t see how making fun of a problem that is reportedly a serious national problem, helps.  When I see a seriously overweight or obese person who might be disabled as a result of it, I first think, “oh, that’s sad.”  And then I think, “Wait a minute, is that even accurate for me to be sad?  Because they could be happier than I am!”  I also tend think of a lack of balance when I see an overweight person.  Just as anorexia indicates a lack of balance.  I assume that some make fun of overweight people because they attribute certain qualities to them, like sloth or lack of control.  Which I understand some people despise in others.

It just seems as arbitrary as saying, “Look at that brown-haired woman.  People who are brown-haired are so disgusting.”  I know someone might say to that, “Well, it’s not the same Amanda, one is a health problem while the other isn’t.”  Well, sure, I agree – but how does making fun of it help?

I just don’t get it.  Again, I’m not trying to be self-righteous; I just don’t understand.  So please, if you do, enlighten me, because I find it mystifying.  And in the meantime, I’ll stick to Mama Bruce’s philosophy: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

* I don’t tend to use the word fat; I prefer overweight or obese, which is usually more accurate/detailed.  Thought it might grab your attention though.

(Image provided by metro.co.uk)