"Look Mommy, I'm Fat!"
Updated: Jul 21, 2019
“Look Mommy, I’m Fat!” Says my 5 year old daughter, Aisha, as she turns to me, arms open wide. I am laying on my bed nursing my baby, and Aisha has been jumping on the bed while laughing and playing with her reflection in the mirror.
When she makes her proclamation my heart immediately starts beating faster and my mind starts racing. “Oh no,” I think, “it’s happened! This awful toxic world has gotten to my sweet precious little girl. What am I going to do?! How am I supposed to respond to this? How am I going to raise this girl to love, appreciate, and care for her beautiful, unique female body as she grows? I thought I was going to have more time to figure this out before faced with this! What is she thinking about herself and her body? She doesn’t sound upset, maybe it’s not a lost cause yet. Where did I go wrong!? I’ve tried to use the word fat in a neutral and uncharged way, telling her that mommy is fat, and explaining to her that everybody is different and unique, and that is ok. I’ve tried to make sure she knows that people naturally come in all different shapes and sizes, and that body size is part of our human diversity.”
As all of these thoughts are racing through my mind at light speed, my daughter is looking at me expectantly, waiting for my response. I mumble something about how she is perfect and beautiful just how she is, and she just looks at me for a moment, with a somewhat puzzled look on her face. Then she goes back to playing and laughing with her reflection.
“Fat!” Giggle giggle, arms down, “Normal!” More laughter, arms open wide again, “Fat!” Laughing again, arms down, “Normal!” And more giggles.
“Oh,” I say, forcing a nervous giggle, “you look fat when your arms are up, and when you put them down you look like your regular size. That’s so silly!”
“Yeah!” She squeals excitedly, and returns to her game, laughing.
“Well,” I think as I lay back down, laughing in an awkward attempt to redeem myself and makeup for my totally off the mark reaction, “clearly, I am still triggered by the word fat, but at least it looks like I’ve done something right with my daughter…I hope I didn’t just ruin it...”