I look so fat today. I have two chins. I hate my thighs. I’m not eating today.
How many times have you said these things? Heard these things? Had a whole conversation about something along these lines? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Look, I do it too. I have the mental recording that drones on and on.
The other day a friend of mine posted a comment on a photo on facebook. “I look like I’m pregnant even though I’m not.”
This got me thinking. For one, my friend isn’t even remotely fat. She’s a swimmer! For another, she’s never been pregnant. I’ll admit, my first emotion was a little anger. It was an inconsiderate thing to say to someone who was recently pregnant and does have a post-pregnancy body situation. In fact, I still look pregnant. And what hurt my feelings was the conflation of “I look pregnant” with “I look fat.” Gee thanks. So what does that mean for how I look right now?
But after I got over my pity party, I was still thinking about this whole fat-talk thing. I’m raising a girl, after all. I don’t want her to get weighed down (no pun intended) with all this self-hating, fat-picking bullshit. But how do I stop it?
This was on my mind while I was on vacation visiting friends in Portland. My best friend has a daughter who is on the cusp of tweendom. It was a beautiful sunny day and she wanted to go for a bike ride with her dad. As she waited to get going, she told me that she had to work off the two cupcakes, soda and chips she ate at a birthday party earlier. She told me she didn’t want to get fat. This girl is a perfectly healthy, thin little girl! She rarely eats like that. And yet, this nasty little self-hate talk is creeping into her young life.
It breaks my heart.
Why do we keep doing this to generation after generation of girls? Why do we hate ourselves so much that we have to transfer it to the next wave? While the media and society certainly have roles in this, there’s enough blame to go around for us, too.
I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this with my daughter. There will be talks, life lessons and some stuff I can’t control. But what about the piece I can control? I can control what I say. No more, “I’m so fat” crap. No more talking about how I could be pretty if I just lost 20 pounds. I can share this idea with others in my life and hope they can stop, too (at least around my daughter). I’ll do my best to live by example. I won’t stand in front of a mirror and curse my round belly, as I watched my mother do. We can talk about how good it feels to be strong and healthy so we can do fun things like playing at the playground, swimming, hiking and riding a bike.
I want my daughter to feel as beautiful as she is smart. And I hope I never hear her say, “I am so fat.”