I was tucking my daughter into bed one night as she whispered in the dark, “Mum I feel fat.”
I felt like I’d been punched. Here it was, the new “F” word. If you have children, you know it’s coming. I just didn’t expect it so soon.
Fat should not be a bad word. I’ve told my daughters it’s merely an adjective – tall, short, skinny, fat. As if it were that simple. It’s not.
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I’d thought I’d done everything I was supposed to do. I never talk about my body or anyone else’s. We never spoke about food as good or bad. I tried to provide both healthy foods and treats.
I thought I’d done all the right things, said the right things.
The feeling of grief washed over me. Grief for walls I had carefully built, crashing down. I could no longer hold off the army of voices. Suddenly my lone voice telling her she is perfect the way she is was becoming a whisper against the societal screams. The outside world was smashing it down, brick by brick. As it should be.
It was inevitable; she wouldn’t live within my protection of love and adoration forever. But it didn’t make It any less painful.
I laid down next to her.
“Why do you think you feel that way?” I asked, taking her hand in mine.
“Because my tummy is too big. I’m too big.”
I took a deep breath. And everything that came out of my mouth next was a lie.
“Sometimes I feel that way too, but it’s so silly because fat is not a feeling. It’s not who you are. Fat is something you have. Just like you have bones. Just like you have muscles. Fat is not a feeling.”