Dear Little One,
Given that we’re near the beginning of the “stuff-your-face” holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to share this story.
A few months ago, we were over at your dad’s parents’ house for dinner. After dinner, everyone was in the backyard by the fire pit. They were enjoying s’mores, ice cream, and some sort of sugary traybake (idk, it was cookie bars or something). We were about to head home, as it was rapidly nearing your bedtime, but your dad was stuck for a moment trying to finish up a conversation (and his glass of wine).
Suddenly, your cousin E starts telling her mom about a friend of hers who’d said her favorite food was “butter.” Which is a little unusual, but kids are weird and everyone is evolutionarily primed to like fats, so whatever. What threw me was that E started on this tirade about how her friend is “going to get fat!” like “fat” was literally the worst thing one could be.
(She also said this while absolutely stuffing her face with a mountain of ice cream and cookie bars.)
Since she was talking to and surrounded by adults, I assumed her mom at least would step in and explain that, while health is important, it wasn’t okay to judge people like that. Obviously, I was expecting too much.
Your aunt simply responded with “Yup.”
… Um, what?
“Yup”? That’s your answer to that sudden, weird outburst? At that point, I couldn’t resist.
She paused mid-face-stuff and looked down at her own personal sugar/fat mountain.
I continued to talk about how health is important, but being a good and kind person was worth more. Then I closed it with “Besides, you can’t be fat, you can only have fat. Just like you can’t be fingernails, you just have fingernails.”
The thing is, she’s SEVEN. To be that judgmental at seven, to fat-shame at seven… That’s just terrible to me. The number of children with eating disorders is on the rise and soon she’ll be a teenager. Then she’ll be dealing with other teenagers, all of whom are battling with self-image issues, hormones, pressures, and all sorts of other problems.
Fighting society’s pressures on what people “should be” needs to start early, regardless of whether it’s body image, gender roles, mental health issues, or whatever. Fight that shit every chance you get. I’m going to continue to undermine that crap whenever I see an opportunity, even if others around me aren’t up to the task and I hope you do, too.