You made it to the end? Congrats. I don’t think I would have so good job. I don’t know why I left number 8 here to start off this round(I CLEARLY need an editor), but I did so I guess here is as good a place as any to start…
8. We look at pictures of fat people ALL.THE.TIME.
Ok, so I totally stumbled in to this one by accident. Instagram is my social media platform of choice and I have a heavily curated group of fat babes that I follow all over the world that have style I want to jack. This means that there are ALWAYS fatties in my feed and my kid has, to date, grown up mostly looking at fat bodies and checking out fat fashion. I really feel like constant fat babe exposure is great for kids cause mine doesn’t even blink an eye about fat babe crop tops and she likes to see what people are wearing as much as I do. A fat babe in a bikini? My kid only ever says things like ‘mama, I like that one.’ OR ‘I wish that came in red’. The bodies wearing the suits are not an issue. I know that shit is gonna change as she gets older, but for now I am so over the moon that the social media she is consuming centres the queer, fat body. I especially love this cause we don’t have to have a big to do every time we talk about fatness and how fat bodies are good bodies blah blah blah, cause she can see that, right there, as I scroll down and find the cutest sequined miniskirts on the fat babe market.
Here are the last few items that I probably should have edited out but couldn’t because I have zero ability to keep shit focused and also my vanity means I think i need EVERY WORD. I tried to keep it short and sweet, but really didn’t or whatever. Here, in no particular order, are my final thoughts.
- Lead by example: Similarly to the point above, We find fat people who are doing activities that my kid loves to show her examples of fat people doing those same things. Fat babes dancing, fat babe artists, fat babe yoga teachers, fat athletes, fat designers etc
- No shame in our eating: We NEVER talk shit about our own bodies before we eat. EVER. There is a weird white lady cultural thing (maybe this happens with other folks too, but I notice it with white ladies the most) that happens where people need to be disparaging about their bodies before they eat – ‘I shouldn’t…just goes straight to my hips’, ‘ugh, I’m trying to lose weight who do I think I am eating this sandwich?’, I’m so baaaad.’ – etc etc. People don’t even notice they do it. It is as regular as breathing for a lot of people out there. Well, we don’t do that in our house and we don’t let other people do it either. We aren’t dirtbags about it, we just make it awkward. ‘What do you mean you are bad? for eating that pizza? How is that bad?”Aren’t you hungry though?’. We think those turns of phrase are toxic to our kid and her relationship to eating and food and can set her up to slip right into body/food shame. So an awkward conversation where we make those statements a real part of the conversation and not just unacknowledged body hatred filler means that we don’t have a ton of this happening when we have company over (also we don’t have a ton of company that isn’t fat positive to begin with, but I recognize that is not everyone’s world).
- Don’t be positive when you don’t feel positive. We don’t pretend being fat is easy. It isn’t. The reality is that fat bodies have a harder time navigating the world and people fucking hate us for being fat. Like they are really, really mean, you guys. And I begrudge exactly zero fat babes for trying to make it through the day with their families however they need to. It is hard for a fat babe about town not to internalize the socially acceptable hatred of our bodies. And, like everyone else, we don’t expect to feel good about our bodies every day, and so if we are talking about our bodies in this way, we try to be gentle and generous about anything that feels hard when it comes to how we look, and we talk about context always. This does NOT mean that I talk shit about myself in that constant perseverating way that many of us do because we think it is the expectation. I hear parents (especially mothers) talk about what they hate about themselves right in front of their kids, all the time, and it is so pervasive we don’t even hear it. Now, I parent a young kid who still thinks I am beautiful and amazing and I want to make that last as long as I can, and not make her second guess her feelings about me by shitting all over myself. How she sees me is true and real and magical and wonderful. I am happy to tell her that some days i don’t feel as comfortable in my body as others, but I do not, and will not, insult my body in front of my child. I never want her to think that it is ok to hate yourself casually in the lunch room as a way to bond. I don’t need to perfectly love myself to teach my kid, I just need to be super intentional about how I talk about myself because while I don’t want her to feel bad for feeling bad, I also don’t want her to be ashamed of eating or her body when eating. It is a fine balance, y’all.
- No Food Policing at the Dinner Table – We talk to our families and loved ones about their fatphobia, body negativity, and food hang-ups, set boundaries, and do not let them be crossed. I feel like there is a lot at stake here, so I tend to be a wee bit rigid on this. There is a strict ‘no food policing’ rule in our family and if it happens anyways at least our kid sees that we are addressing it straight on with people. (This is how white people should be dealing with racism at the dinner table as well, FYI). If you want to know how we do it, we literally shout ‘no food policing’ at people, or say ‘you weren’t just trying to tell me what to eat were you?’. People are mostly so worried about making a scene that it doesn’t often go much further than that. If it did I think I would turn to my kid and say ‘auntie so and so doesn’t understand the rules in our house so we will talk to her about it later and let you know how it goes. Would you like to be excused and go watch a show?’ And then I would go in with auntie so and so. Overall though, I don’t need people to change their opinions about the obesity ‘epidemic’, to suddenly become pillars of fat positivity, or to stop judging the food I give my kid, I just need them to get very quiet about it in my house. So quiet they are SILENT. Sure I want them to get with the fat babery, but barring that I want them to respect me and the rules in my house and with my kid. At the end of the day if they can’t just get with the program they don’t get to hang out with us. Sad for them because we are super party time and aren’t weird about food.
- Manners. We don’t talk about other people’s bodies unless we have explicit permission. EVER. Manners, babes.
That’s basically it team. My anecdotal approach to (hopefully) raising a kid that is minimally fucked up about food and her body. I sure don’t have all the answers- or even like a dozen, but I’m trying and figured this might help some of you out there who are navigating this stuff as well. Bottom line there is always a do over if we screw it up. My kid is very used to me apologizing to her when I mess up, and she lets me try again on the regular. So, hopefully this series was helpful and didn’t just make you feel worse which is what ALWAYS happens to me when I read stuff about parenting. To be clear here, I am just a fat parent trying not to raise an asshole, so for real, don’t go thinking I’m some child expert. I just know how I want to be treated and so I’m trying to do that for her, and I know that is how you are trying to raise yours too. So here’s to growing a generation of kids who do no harm and take no shit.