Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The "F" Word

After picking my little guy up from camp today we stopped at Aldi to buy Half & Half. We are heading to the checkout and pass a VERY large woman. I would estimate that she weighed 500 lbs. Davis says (and believe me when I say that I have been fearful of this moment since the day of his birth) "Mama, that lady is FAT!"

Now, I have serious body image issues. I grew up listening to my mother degrade her appearance and her weight. I learned a lot. I learned that she was "disgusting", that FAT was "disgusting", that her face was round and THAT was unappealing. I also learned that her value was based on these things. Every time someone said "You look so much like your mother" I cringed. I hated it. I didn't want to be "disgusting", but I must be. As a result of this upbringing I have been determined to not even USE the word Fat around Davis. I do not want to give it any sort of negative connotation. I talk about losing weight to be HEALTHIER, not smaller. I have been EXTREMELY careful to avoid painting myself as damaged just because I weigh more than I should in order to be healthy.

At first I was unsure about whether or not this woman heard him. I couldn't very well make him apologize if she hadn't heard him. Then I heard her say to the 6 or 7 year old girl with her that "Some people choose to use their manners and some do not". I brought him over to apologize to her. I said that I hadn't known whether or not she heard him, and she said that she did. She said that she wasn't criticizing my parenting, only letting her daughter know that it is up to the individual whether or not they use manners. This actually upset me, because what she was missing was the fact that six year olds, at least mine, comment on things that they see that are unfamiliar to them. If she had been seven feet tall he would have said "Mama, that lady is TALL!". If she had been a dwarf he would have said "That lady is SHORT!" and so on.

I tried to explain (I am forever an explainer) that because I used to weigh nearly 100 lbs more than I do now, I am very sensitive about the usage of the word "fat" and that we do not use it in our home. That he should apologize because it hurt her feelings, but that he really has no negative connotation associated with the word "fat". She wouldn't look me in the eye, and she didn't really seem to be listening. It made me incredibly sad. Because after we left I realized that by addressing the situation I probably made it worse for her. It likely sounded like I was making excuses for my son, which is NOT what I intended. It likely attracted attention, as I demanded that he apologize to her. I realized that forcing him to apologize was actually a selfish act. One performed to make me feel better and to teach Davis a lesson. I VERY much wanted her to feel better. I VERY much wanted to somehow repair the situation, and to show her that my son was NOT being rude. He had no IDEA that what he said could hurt her feelings. I didn't even think of how she would react. How it would feel to be confronted, publicly, with the mother of the child who had just hurt her feelings. None of that occurred to me. I wish that it had. I wish that I had let her think that my son was rude, because I think that would have been easier for her.

On the way home I explained to my innocent, confused child that it really isn't a good idea to talk about ANYONE'S appearance in public. Tall, short, pretty, ugly, big, or small... not everyone likes the things that make them different. Pointing them out can hurt their feelings, and that's not a good thing to do. I hope that he understood.

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