Mama, why are you fat?: Teaching kids about different bodies #Families#body image#communicating#kids September 15 2016 | Guest post by Elizabeth Weiss Plus size woman cloth doll from Etsy seller PrairieCrocusStudio This morning, as we were dressing and getting ready for the day, my four-year-old looked at me and said "Mama, why are you fat?" I told her that I just had a larger body, and went on to talk about how she had a smaller body, and we have friends who are tall and some who are short. She was satisfied with that. However, I took a moment to pause and feel victorious — both because I did not immediately take her question as an insult, and because she is learning to view different bodies as just… different. Not good and bad, just different. Related Post I (started to) defeat my body image issues with a sword A few months after starting to run regularly, my fiance found a local sword fighting class. Even a year earlier I might have hesitated (“swords... Read more This one moment was the culmination of years and years of mental work on my part. Growing up, I was teased all the time about my weight, and it affected me profoundly. I was almost 30 before I reached a place where I could just inhabit my body without seeing it as a problem. I decided that I didn't want to view my own skin as an enemy. And I certainly don't want my children growing up thinking that everyone should look like people in magazines, or that we should all just be miserable with our physical bodies because they aren't "perfect." I used to think that dissatisfaction with one's body was a problem that only large people faced. Then, I grew up, and started teaching, and met literally hundreds of women who all had the same story. They were "too big" or "too thin" or "too short" or their behind was "too jiggly." They were "too big to wear that," or "didn't have enough bust to wear that," or "shouldn't try to wear that, as short as they are." They should "eat a sandwich," or "not eat that," or "follow this diet," or "not be so lazy," or "not spend so much time exercising." They all were led to believe that they should be using the next cream, foundation, product, depilatories, elasticized undergarment, or bust-enhancing bra, so that their bodies could be pleasant for others to look at. I have friends who have struggled with eating disorders or self-harm because of the relationship they have with their bodies, and you know what? Not all of them are fat. Some of them have never even been fat. The prospect of possibly inhabiting a large body is so scary in our culture that some would literally rather die than be fat. Related Post 3 ways to teach kids to be body-positive Teaching kids to be body positive is one of the most radical things we can do to further the Body Acceptance cause. By raising a... Read more We all fight this fight, and we probably all want a better world for our children to have bodies in. How do we make that happen? We change the way we talk to ourselves and to our children. We don't look in the mirror and complain. We don't look at them and comment that they are putting on a little weight. We don't poke their bellies and mention that they are getting chubby. We don't praise people for weight loss because they "look so great!" We don't talk about what we eat in the context of "making you fat." Body shape needs to become just one more way in which people are different. And it needs to be okay to have a body that is smaller or larger, or darker or lighter, or taller or shorter, than someone else's. If we want our children to be healthy, and not ashamed of their bodies, we need to separate eating healthy foods and being physically active from judgment about body size. And everyone should take care of their bodies, whether they have a small body or a large body. My observant child also asked why my tummy was squashy. I told her it was because she and her brother stretched it out when they were growing in there. She thought for a minute and said "You are lucky to have a squashy tummy then." And she's right. I am very lucky. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Elizabeth Weiss I am a college instructor, partner, mom, and small business owner. I have two partners, three children, two jobs, and one cat. I used my ten minutes of free time to write this guest post! PREVIOUS How to make delicious, clean-eating-worthy, instant oatmeal in no time at all! NEXT What do you pack for lunch? Show/Hide comments [ 4 ] I love this post. Thank you for sharing your experience:) 6 agree Reply Thank you for sharing! I know my baby is going to have questions like this when he's older so it's great to already have good non-judgmental answers at the ready so I don't accidentally say something dumb and bias him. Reply "You are lucky to have a squashy tummy then." Oh my gosh, that's adorable. Thank you so much for sharing!! Kids are such sponges, they pick up on everything. That's so great that you're projecting positivity on them. 🙂 5 agree Reply I'm currently pregnant and your daughter's comment "You're lucky to have a squishy tummy then" has me tearing up! So sweet and true! 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.