“Mommy,” my daughter said to me one day when I picked her up from preschool.
“Yes baby,” I said.
“I’m not friends with Isabella,” she said factually talking about one of her little classmates, “she is not nice.”
I simply thought this was an average little girl fight…you know, I wanted the pink crayon but she took it or I wanted to be the princess and so did she and I didnt like it.. blah blah, so I asked, “why do you say that, did she do something bad?”
“Isabella…said that you were fat…mommy,” she paused, ”why did she say you were fat?”
I was dumbfounded. I stared into my little girl’s eyes and the very first time, of many to come I’m sure, I couldn’t just give her a straight answer cause the truth is, by definition, I am fat. But, I have tried to refrain from teaching my daughter words like ugly, skinny, fat, stupid, etc… and yet, here I was confronted by my 3 yr old that was hurt by another 3 yr old calling her mommy a name that she didn’t understand.
I had a few issues with this, obviously.
Growing up, I have always been a little bigger than other girls. I have fluctuated between average to chubby my entire life, and it has always been a battle. Even at my thinnest (which I got to be via non healthy ways, won’t be doing that ever again), I was not “thin.” In jr high this caused me to start to close off and cover up, in high school I had a horrible self image and truly believed I was so FAT and UGLY, that I clung to the boy that I loved, even though he treated me horribly (imagine being 16, half naked and being told in the middle of fooling around that you would be so hot if- “you lost about 10 lbs.” Yup, real winner!), I stayed with him because I didn’t believe anyone else would want me and in high school, what’s a girl without a boyfriend right?
When that guy and I split, I was in a horrible funk and depression for a year and I moved away to Philadelphia. I still had major body issues. I fluctuated between OK to chubby my whole 9 yrs there. The thinnest when I did heavy club drugs, and chubbiest when I finally settled down. It took me 9 yrs to decide that no matter my size, I was not bad. I never had trouble dating or meeting men that liked me, but I had this horrible way of dealing with being hurt, to run and find a guy to make me feel good about myself. It was like if I could get this guy (whoever I picked at the time) to want me, I was not this ugly rejected fat creature that I made myself feel like. Not exactly the best mental image of myself right?
I did that on and off for years, then I fell in love with a man that loved me whichever way I looked, and I had my baby girl. Even though I was probably my heaviest ever, I didn’t care. She was beautiful and amazing. The way she saw me was always with love and huge grins, and slowly, that was how I started to see myself. With love. It’s slow…but I’m becoming OK with how I look. I know I am pretty and I know I will never be “thin”, and that is finally OK with me. But I don’t want my daughter to have these issues with herself.
I want her to be happy and know what took me 32 yrs to learn, that she is beautiful no matter what. Words like “fat”, “skinny”, “ugly” do not nor should not define a person. Does this mean I am saying, hey everyone just eat up and gain all the weight you want? No… but at 3 yrs old, the word fat should not exist. These are little girls, they have plenty of years when they are older to obsess about words like “fat”, “skinny”, “ugly”. At 3 yrs old, it saddens me that somewhere, her little friend learned that word “fat” and also learned how to use it. So what do I tell my little girl to say? I think she said it better than I ever could have…
“I don’t know why she said that baby,” I replied, “what did you say?”
“I told her that… my mommy is not fat, my mommy is beautiful and the best mommy, and that I don’t want to be her friend anymore,” said my daughter in one quick breath. Then, as if she forgot about everything, she smiled at me and said, “can I have a Popsicle now mommy?”
I gave her two.