For those of you who don’t know, I used to work with kids a lot. I’ve worked in mainstream schools, autistic swimming programmes and even a child development school within a hospital, and kids can be harsh. Here’s how I’ve dealt with comments I’ve received over my work.
“You are fat”
– Yes I am fat. I smiled and walked away. Fat is not an insult. It is a descriptor and the child was accurate
“Why are you fat?”
– Because everyone is made differently and it would be really confusing if we all looked the same. How would we tell each other apart?
“Your tummy is so big. It’s gross”
– I asked him why he thought fat was bad. He responded that it was ugly. I then said “well, I am fat and beautiful so that can’t be true”. He continued on “You aren’t beautiful!” so I simply went “oh I am! You just haven’t realised it yet!”, I laughed and then I walked away. It was over a week later he came up to me and said “i don’t know if you are beautiful but you are nice so it doesn’t really matter”
Regardless of how the conversation turns out, it’s good for them to see an example of a fat confident woman. I believe it’s one of those memories that will come to mind in their older years, perhaps when they are having teenage wobbles.
How about if you are with your child when they call someone else fat? Yes, of course it can be embarrassing because you don’t want to offend the other person. But you can simply go “and aren’t they gorgeous?”. Remember that fat-phobia is learnt.
The solution to these conversations is not to tell a child that calling someone fat is rude or to ban the word “fat” and start calling it the “F word”. The solution is to open up the conversation and use it as an opportunity for body positivity.
When a child talks, they are rarely trying to be cruel, but instead just repeating what they have been taught. #ScarredNotScared