Being 500 pounds, I always get stares and comments when I’m out and about for being fat. I’ve gotten them my whole life. They used to bother me, especially when I was a teenager. I would sit in my room and cry, slap my body, curse it, I wanted to die. The stares were mostly from adults. But comments … those were from children. Children are like drunk adults, they tell the truth whether or not you want to hear it. They speak first and think later. If you’re fat…they have no problem telling you so. I didn’t understand their honesty until I became an adult.
When I became an adult and was studying for my degree in education, I assisted in kindergarten briefly. Talk about walking into the lion’s den. My first day, a 5 year old blurted out in a giggly voice while she was drawing… “You’re so fat! I bet dinosaurs weren’t as big as you were”.
Ouch….I mean damn…brutal…
This was my first test. I was a grown up now. I was responsible for these little ones. I couldn’t flip them off like I did when I was a teen. Or growl at them. I couldn’t be a jerk to them. I mean, I was getting a degree in teaching, surely I knew this would happen when I got in a classroom. I looked at her eyes…she was so sweet and innocent. I thought it through briefly and then I responded….
“Hehe, am I?! Oh my goodness! I thought I was your size?! No way! I grabbed her little coat and tried to put it on, oh my goodness! You’re absolutely right!!! But, you know what,”
….I leaned down to her level….and said very gently…
“we don’t want to call people fat. Sometimes it might hurt their feelings.”
She stopped and looked down, and quietly said sorry. I patted her back, asked her what color she was going to use for her flower.
That was it. She hadn’t been plotting that comment all day, waiting for the right time to say it and make my world come crashing down. She wasn’t trying to destroy my confidence.
It was at that moment, I knew, she was just a child…making an observation. There was no malicious intent in her words.
Her heart was pure.
She was just…a…child.
I thought back, every child (hold on….not teens….some teens can be dicks….I know….I taught middle school as well lol) that blurted out in the store or whose eyes got enormously wide when they saw me, was just making an innocent observation. Not all have had the “talk” with their parents about not staring or saying what could be perceived as hurtful things. I realized then, I can’t change what they say, but I can definitely change my reaction.
From that day on, I changed the way I reacted to any child that calls me fat. I was reminded of that today while in Payless, looking for shoes. A little girl no more than 5, peeked around the corner at me, and ran off. She came back with her brother who was around her age as well. I smiled and said “Hi”. They proceeded to peek around every corner from each end of the aisle. Giggling when I would look at them. I laughed and said peekaboo and would laugh back at them whenever they would peek.
I heard them whisper…. “she’s sooo fat”. I smiled.
At that moment, I could have searched for her parents and told her but there’s a reason why I didn’t.
I was afraid of their mother’s reaction.
Parents don’t know how to react when their kids say something about a person who is obese or who has a disability. They are mortified when they hear it. I’ve literally seen parents slap their kids in the mouth or grab their heads and furiously yell at them “no..no..NO!”
Like really dude? I get it. You don’t want your kid to be an asshole, but do you really need to hit them?! Talk to them. They’ll listen. At no point during the incident do they calmly talk to the child. They fly off the handle and always end up assaulting them.
So instead, I purchased my shoes and even waved bye to the little girl, came home, and wrote this post.
So here’s a few words of advice:
If you’re a parent and your child calls someone fat (or makes an observation about someone’s disability):
- First things first – talk to your kid beforehand about staring or commenting someone’s weight or disability. Teach them its ok to for people to be different. Teach them to treat others the way they want to be treated. Teach them to value diversity and respect each human being. Teach them that while some people may be fat, or bald, or really skinny, or really tall, or in a wheelchair, saying certain things might hurt their feelings. Teach them words can hurt even though they may not mean to be hurtful. Teach them empathy.
- DO NOT go WWE and Batista Bomb your child for making an observation. It causes a scene, embarrasses the person who the comment was made about, and scars your child. Just talk to them calmly. Tell them that was not nice and have them apologize. Don’t hurt your child for making an innocent observation.
If you’re the person who was called fat:
- Forgive and Understand…..they’re just kids. They aren’t out to ruin your day. They’re just being observant. You are fat (or disabled). Its not like they are looking at you through a funhouse mirror where things are not what they seem. They are just making an accurate observation. They aren’t trying to ruin your day (again…if its an older child or a teen, ok, that’s different lol.I can write a whole post on how to deal with them) but a little kid? Forgive them.
- If you feel comfortable, talk to them. Tell them that’s not nice and it hurt your feelings. If their parents are there…as they should be….talk to them about the incident. Tell them not to flip out first! Tell them the child made a remark about your weight or disability. Hopefully they will have the “talk” with their kid.
- If you see the parent damn near drop kick the kid for making the comment, talk to them immediately. Tell them that was not necessary. Please. Don’t let them hurt a child just because the child made an observation. Some people may not be comfortable with stepping in, but I’m not going to watch you backhand a child in front of me for an innocent comment. Then I become your issue….and you don’t want this problem.
If you’re an adult staring or making these comments:
- Get a fucking life and stop being a dick.
So there, now, let me go buy some more shoes….