It occurred to me this past week while reading a book to my child that I am very offended by a certain widely-used word. No, no, it's probably not the "f" word you're thinking of. That word doesn't offend me in the least.
The word that offends me so much is "fat." Maybe it doesn't offend me, maybe there's a better word to describe how this word makes me feel. I can't for the life of me think of another descriptive right now.
Claire has a book that talks about all of baby's parts: eyes, ears, legs, tummy, etc. When it describes the tummy it says: "What a round fat tummy." I can't stand this passage so I always change the word fat to something else.
The truth is that I don't want Claire or Zora to associate this word with their bodies, the baby in the book's body, or anyone else's body.
I have had to watch myself, though. I had a bad habit of calling Zora my little fat baby. This doesn't bother Zora, she's not going to remember any of this anyway. Claire, however, might latch on to that word, as she is wont to do at times, and use it. She might not, but I can't take that chance.
See, I can't protect them from everything. They're going to go out into the world and see images, and hear words. They'll connect the dots, put two and two together, etc. I can protect them within my own home from putting any value and meaning into the words "fat" and "skinny," for that matter.
It's bad enough that Barbie is out there gallivanting about with her freakish body of giant boobs, tiny waste and fused fingers. I don't want to have a 4 year old that thinks that she needs to go on a diet. I hope that we would never get that far.
That being said, I want to raise healthy girls, not skinny girls. I have always shuddered when moms brag on the thinness of their children. I am a big fan of the Play 60 program. If you haven't heard of it, it basically just encourages kids to get 60 minutes of active play every day. Here's what kills me about this: we have to encourage kids to play? What? I believe this is what some would refer to as a "New World problem." These kids aren't too sick to play. They aren't starving and therefore have no energy to play. They're too fracking lazy! Seriously?
When I was young, my sister and I would come home from school, eat a snack, watch some cartoons and then play outside until dark or supper, which ever came first. There was only 1 hour of cartoons on between General Hospital and the news so we didn't have many options. My mom didn't have to force us to play, we wanted to. We rode bikes, played on our swing set and just ran around. It didn't really matter how warm or cold it was, we'd bundle up in the snow and play until we were frozen (if mom had let us). In the summer we'd stop to get a drink from the hose if it was hot.
We didn't have a Nintendo, we didn't have Cartoon Network. We had bikes, a yard, and plenty of energy to run off.
Neither my sister, nor I, am very athletic. I had a brief stint as a cheerleader and a basketball player, neither I was incredibly good at. I think Robin funneled any athleticism into being an expert on everything and can now beat the hell out of you at just about any trivia, IQ, etc test. We were both in ballet for many years which taught us good posture, patience and a little French. All we have since lost...unless you are talking about pardon-my-French, in which case we are both fluent.
At some point during those years of just being a kid the word "fat" crept into my vocabulary. Not only did it creep in but it assigned itself quite a bit of power. If I have anything to say about it, this word will not control my children as it has controlled me. So, in the mean time, we will not use "fat" to describe people or their parts, nor will we use "skinny."
I pledge to not stand in the mirror and say, "ugh, do I look fat in this?" I pledge to not obsess over what I am eating, how I look, and I will certainly not diet.
I will, however, try to feed my children healthy food, encourage them to play until they are sweaty and dirty and desperately in need of a bath, and let them eat cake, ice cream and cookies. I don't want them to think these sweets are so unattainable that when they do get their hands on them, they go crazy.
We have found an interesting truce, the TV and I. This past week I discovered how much Claire loves to dance along with Dance Central 2 on the Kinect. She's pretty good. She spins, stomps, bounces. I as mentioned in a post previously, her daddy can't dance, so her skills are refreshing. With it being 20 degrees outside, this is a nice alternative to running her around the park for a few hours and it's a nice compromise between the TV and me.