So this morning Elijah said something that really upset me. He said he doesn’t like fat people. I’m upset he said it but I’m not questioning where he got it from, sizism is everywhere in society and I’d be lying if I said I’ve always displayed positive body image for him, but I’m wondering now what I can do to help him overcome this prejudice before it gets really bad. I tried telling him that people come in all shapes and sizes and that they’re all good, and how lucky we are to live in a world with different shapes and sizes because if everyone were shaped the same, it would be boring. He responded that he wants everyone to be shaped the same, and that fat people can’t race.
This is a difficult topic. I am plus sized, and I don’t expect I ever won’t be again. The only way I ever got below a size 12 was by taking diet pills and smoking a bunch, and I’m not going back to that. Many members of our family are also plus sized, Elijah loves many, many fat people very much. But it’s hard to miss all the messages society gives you that fat people are somehow bad, even a four year old with a big, fat, loving family picks up on them. Sadly, I wonder if we ourselves are teaching it to him. I have a hard time explaining to Elijah why I insist he eats healthy without telling him that if he doesn’t he’ll get fat. Of course there are a million other reasons why you should eat healthy, but they can be abstract to an adult, imagine how they sound to a four year old. And I hear other people in our family, even the ones that are heavy themselves, make comments about other fat people that wouldn’t be acceptable to make about people based on their religion or skin color or ability. And then there’s the poor body image issues that surely he must see and hear every day. I try to think about those things when I stand in front of the mirror and think I look fat. I think, “Don’t say it out loud. You want to teach Elijah acceptance and self love. Break the cycle.” But it’s only been within the last year or so that I’ve thought these things, and I can’t say I’ve always been successful at least putting up the appearance of self love. And I am certain that many other members in our family aren’t even trying. We’ve all been taught so long that being fat is worthy of moral judgement, that it’s okay to be hard on fat people, and that fat people should be hard on themselves too. I mean, what’s to love about a fat person, even if it’s yourself?
But what if Elijah grows up fat? I don’t want to raise my son to hate himself. I want to raise him to be healthy, which has very little to do with what size he ends up. But health can be wrecked pretty quickly by a lack of self loved, also regardless of size. And even if he doesn’t grow up to be fat, I have no intention of raising a bigot of any kind.
I have to nip this in the bud. If I can with all the other negative influences around. I want to break this cycle, the cycle of self abuse.
Guess my baby stats!
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