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Mum, am I fat?

Posted on October 09 2016


As you know, from one of my previous posts, School Mornings - the struggle is real -  mornings are a little bit crazy in my house. There is yelling, fighting, chaos. Clothes are flung around, there is food on the floor, no one ever has socks and it's just general mayhem.

What I didn't disclose, is that my own personal routine is not so smooth sailing either.

Thanks to the longest renovations in history, also previously referenced in my The Renovations Post, we only have one functioning bathroom at the moment. That also happens to be our ensuite. So our bedroom and bathroom is a public free-for-all.

Quite often I'm in the shower, mr 2 is taking a loud and potent crap, and the girls are fighting over sink space. It's loud, it's crazy, and horribly public. My children are not adverse to sharing their charming opinions of me either, often referring to hoping to never have disgusting boobs like mum, like RIGHT in front of me.

A particular day last week, I was in the midst of my usual 'what the f**k will I wear today' dilemma. Like seriously, this happens every day. You have no idea how much I wish my mum would come and lay out my clothes.

My outfit decision will usually take me from coffee, wee, and shower to decide. And sometimes even after. I stand in my wardrobe staring, or sit on my bed naked surrounded by clothes I've pulled from hangers and will probably not put back - just re-wash.

I chose an outfit, put it on, looked in the mirror and went 'Nup'. As I went back to the drawing board, tearing off my clothes, my daughter said, "what are you doing? That looks good!' "No it doesn't" I said, "I look fat". She rolled her eyes at me and walked out.

I finally got dressed, got them off to school and went about my day, having no idea of the situation I had just created.

The next morning, as we are all getting ready, my daughter comes in wearing just a crop top, and her school skort pulled up so far that Harry High Pants would have been impressed. I looked at her puzzled, and said "Dude, that can't be comfy", she said "it's not but it hides my stomach". 

My blood ran cold.

"Why do you need to hide your stomach?" I said. She didn't answer me, just brushed her teeth, did her hair and put on her t-shirt.

Troubled, I went out to the kitchen and started clearing the breakfast mess (transferring from table to bench). I noticed that there was no mess from her spot.

"Did you have breakfast Bub?" "Nah, I don't feel like it", she said.

I have seen this kid inhale 2 hotdogs without breathing. 2 toasted sandwiches is no effort. A punnet of blueberries, strawberries and a banana without flinching. She loves food (like me) and it gives her great pleasure. She's also really active, 2 games of netball a week, plus training and dancing.

She is not a big breakfast eater so I wasn't totally concerned, but I knew that this was something I really had to keep my eye on.

That afternoon she had a crack at me for not packing enough healthy stuff in her lunch.

That night, as she put on her netball dress, she stomped out of her room and said "Mum, am I fat?".

It was time for a talk.

I asked her why all of a sudden she was concerned. She told me that her legs were bigger than heaps of the girls at school. That her stomach stuck out and only looked 'good' when she held it in. That the reason she asked for high waisted shorts for her birthday was so they would hold in her tummy.

She is 10 years old. The truth is, her body is changing. She is more solid than her sister, who looks like match with the wood shaved off.

I explained to her very firmly that she was NOT fat. That her body is healthy and strong. That she has muscles and strength and shape.

That she was growing. Her body changing from a little girl. That this was normal, and right, and nothing to be ashamed of. I told her not to compare herself to anyone as we are all individuals and we all grow at different rates and stages into different shapes and sizes.

"Sooo", she says. "What about you? You think you are fat, if you can say it, why can't I?".

With deep sadness and regret, I apologised. I told her that I shouldn't say it. That it is irresponsible of me to say things like that in front of her.

There is so much pressure on us to 'look good'. I want my girls to be proud of themselves. To be comfortable in their own skin. To embrace whatever they are given.

But most of all, I want them to be kind to themselves. There are enough outside influences telling them how they should look, act and feel, they shouldn't also have to hear it from their mum.

My flippant comment about feeling fat, was just that. Flippant. But also potentially very dangerous. Especially to an impressionable young girl, who at the age of 10, should be more worried about whether she has matching shoes for her Barbie, or if there is a rogue cow wreaking havoc in her Minecraft village than her belly.

I know that this issue has been around since the dawn of time. That this is nothing new, and that countless mothers around the globe are dealing with this very issue.

I know that I have contributed to it, not just with my comment, but with other little comments I have made through the years. I'll admit, I've made comments when she's reached for the chips instead of the fruit. When she's laying on the couch when the sun is shining.

I need to keep making comments - but not the ones I've been making. No more mention of weight. It can't be about fat. It MUST be about health. About feeding your body and fuelling it for action, not condition. It's gotta be education, not dictation. She's a child, not an elite athlete, whose life depends on being weighed and measured.

We grew up in a house where there were no lollies, chips or biscuits. If we were hungry, the standard response was "there is fruit in the bowl and water in the tap". We would look longingly at our friends colourful lunchboxes, insanely jealous of the chips, mini mars bars and roll ups. Ours were colourful too - from fruit and vegetables. My mum was smart. She knew what she was doing. I think she was before her time.

Unfortunately for me, as soon as I got old enough, if I happened to get some money - tooth fairy, birthday, whatever - I spent it on food. Sh*tty, junky food. Because although it wasn't strictly forbidden, it was something that we craved as it wasn't within our reach.

Now, I'm no expert on food and nutrition in fact,
I'm a total hypocrite. As I've written this, I've eaten half a breadstick smothered in peanut butter and butter, whilst laying on the couch.

BUT - I realise the importance of moderation. Of non extremist ideals when it comes to food. I don't want to deprive my kids of everything, as I'm pretty sure, they will go down the road I did.

I have cut right back on the crap that I was buying. My new Thermomix will be used for good and not evil. Fruit and veggies are in abundance in our house, and I'm so lucky that they love them.

Our conversations about our bodies will focus on their health. Not their size. Never their size. And never fat.

Claire x


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