The other day, as I walked into our living room to pick up some of the 250 toys that had been thrown about that afternoon, my 5-year-old looked at me and said, "Look, Mom, you should get that." He was pointing at the television and when I realized it was some type of a weight loss product commercial, I suddenly had a lump in my throat. "Honey, why would Mommy need to get that?"" Because it will help you lose fat and gain muscle. "You know, because you always say you feel fat." Suddenly, that lump turned into a giant boulder. Instead of feeling fat, I just felt like a big fat failure.
Before I could say anything else, my husband chimed in from the kitchen and said, "Buddy, Mommy isn't fat and it's not nice to use that word when you describe someone." I could suddenly see the look of confusion on the face of my 5-year-old. After all, he did not actually call me fat. He simply repeated the fact that I often call myself fat. A wave of panic came over me. All this time, I never thought about what my fat-shaming or body issues could be doing to my children. Why? Why had I not considered that they might be soaking it in? Why had I not realized that they were listening to me? Why had I not noticed them in the room when I would say things like, "Ugh, if I don't fit in a run soon, I won't fit in my pants"? Why had I not noticed them looking at me when I would ask my husband if the jeans I put on made my butt look big? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I never thought about it because I have boys. I have often thought to myself that if I ever have a daughter, I would really have to watch how much I complain about my body. The last thing I would want is for her to grow up with a warped body image. I never once thought about what it could be doing to my boys.
As a society, we have become so used to constant chatter about diets, weight loss, good foods, bad foods, the best workouts for better butts, arms, legs, abs and on and on and on that it doesn't seem anything but normal to us. BLEH!!! I dare you to turn on a news program in the morning and last a whole hour without hearing anything about diet tips, the best foods for weight loss, how to cut out sugar FOREVER, jeans that make you look skinnier, taller, richer, anything but bigger. Pull up Facebook at any given point in the day and try to avoid statuses about shakes, diet pills, powders, potions, new workouts, new workout gear, diets with no fat, diets with no carbs, no sugar, no solids, protein-only diets, eating-protein-while-running-in-place-and-lifting-weights-above-your-head diets. You can't. You would have to actually look away to not read anything about these things in your newsfeed. Oh, and you can just forget standing on line at the grocery store. Every single magazine has something about diet. Get a butt like celebrity A and legs like celebrity B. Maybe you want your left toe to be just as skinny as celebrity C in her last blockbuster. They hold the secrets to all of this and more.
Our kids are saturated with constant information about weight loss. CONSTANT! How do they stand a chance? We have become a society obsessed with what we eat, what we don't eat and what we do in between eating. There are so many commercials all about weight loss, it's actually become absurd. The fat loss industry has taken over -- and I, for one, am over it. I am over the fat talk. I am over using the word "fat" in my everyday life.
I have boys. The last thing I want is for my boys to grow up with a mom who is constantly saying she feels fat. I run. I eat healthy, and I should feel good about my body. I'm going to be 39, not 18. If I don't embrace my body now, I never will. I want my boys to know that there is so much more to a woman than her body. I do not want my boys to grow up calling people fat. I do not want my boys to grow up and be so superficial when it comes to picking a partner that they only focus on outer appearance. I will never forgive myself. I'm going to make an effort to talk about the positive instead of the negative. I'm going to set an example that I run because I enjoy it, which I do, rather than have them think of exercise as just a means to burn calories. I'm going to enjoy ice cream with them in the summer and pizza with them on a Friday. Oh, and on birthdays, I'm going to have my cake and eat it too! I'm going to allow my children to see me live life in moderation -- not in desperation. I'm going to start loving myself instead of constantly focusing on the negative. The phrase "I feel fat" is officially banned from this house, and now I feel free.