One huge part of parenting is learning how to have difficult conversations with kids.
Everyone wants their children to grow up knowing how to treat everyone with kindness and respect, but in a society that doesn't value differences, it can be hard to set an example. For instance, it's drilled into our heads from a very young age that "fat" is a bad word, and a bad thing to be. It's one of the earliest insults children learn to throw at each other, and it can really affect kids' self esteem as they get older.
One mom was shocked to hear that her daughter was using the word "fat" in a negative way, so she decided to respond. The way she did it should be an inspiration to all of us.
Allison Kimmey is a self help speaker and mother who loves plus size fashion and swimwear. She has a little girl and a little boy, and they spend a lot of time at the ocean and the pool.
When she told her kids they had to get out of the pool, Kimmey overheard her daughter calling her fat in a derogatory way. Instead of getting upset, she pulled her daughter aside and imparted some wisdom.
In addition to explaining that no one is just fat, she gave an explanation of what fat does for our bodies and that even lean and fit people have some fat.
Her entire response is well worth the read for parents who are concerned about the way their kids might talk about others.
My daughter called me fat today.
She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat.
I told her to meet me upstairs so we could chat.
Me: "what did you say about me?"
Her: "I said you were fat, mama, im sorry"
Me: "let's talk about it. The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It's not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?"
Her: "yes! I have some here on my tummy"
Me: "that's right! So do I and so does your brother!"
Her brother: "I don't have any fat, I'm the skinniest, I just have muscles"
Me: "actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts."
Her brother: " oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me"
Me: "Yes, that's true. Some people have a lot, and others don't have very much. But that doesn't mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand?
Both: "yes, mama"
Me: "so can you repeat what I said"
Them: "yes! I shouldn't say someone is fat because you can't be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it's okay to have different fat"
Me: "exactly right!"
Them: "can we go back to the pool now?"
Me: no 🤣🤣
Each moment these topics come up i have to choose how I'm going to handle them. Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable.
Since we don't call people fat as an insult in my household, I have to assume she internalized this idea from somewhere or someone else. Our children are fed ideas from every angle, you have to understand that that WILL happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a tv show or movie, overhearing someone at school- ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds. It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest.
By choosing not to use the word "fat" as an insult in their home, this mom is helping her kids become more compassionate. Way to go, Mom!