Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Fat" is a State of Mind

I know there are a million and one people who would disagree with my title: "Fat" is a State of Mind.  "Fat is Fat," They say.  "You either ARE or you AREN'T."

But I don't think that is true.  I think it IS a state of mind, and I will tell you why.

To me, "Fat" people don't care about what goes in their mouths.  "Fat" people stuff their faces with fried, fatty foods, gulp down the sugary drinks, and pass on their habits and addictions on to their children.  "Fat" people aren't TRYING to get better, or if they do, they fail, and then resign themselves to being fat forever because they just don't have the drive to care about themselves, their health or those around them.  "Fat" people suffer from many sicknesses and diseases that could easily be cured if they got the weight off.  "Fat" people usually aren't happy with themselves, suffer from depression, are bullied, but they don't know how to get help or they just don't want to.  I was "fat" once upon a time, because I stopped caring... I stopped trying.

These last 10 to 20 years or so, with the rise of technology, lack of health and cooking education, more people out in the work force (eating quick food for lunch, and not cooking healthy things at home), and the rise of fast and processed food -- among many other factors, the obesity levels for the US have sky rocketed!!  Just here in Oklahoma, over 30% of adults are considered obese.

And where you find one extreme, you will find the other -- super healthy fit people, as well.  When you get the two extremes together you get fireworks... let the judgments fly!  I have heard the nasty remarks from both the "Fat" and the "Skinny" and it can be super mean and hurtful and not many are trying to see the other's side.  And the rest of us get caught in the crossfire... and then even our children suffer.

I refuse to take any side.  I can see each side's points, but they both kind of tick me off as well.  I have issues with people being judged for whatever reason.  I have had many good friends suffer from obesity and I have also had good friends who suffered from anorexia or other eating disorders, and I have extreme sympathy for both.  My heart aches for those who struggle on each side of the spectrum.

What I don't tolerate is shaming and cruelty.  And it is my hope to teach my boys how to respect EVERYONE no matter what their trials and choices are in life.  I will not tolerate my boys to become mean and bully others.  So after all that I have done to teach my boys kindness, you can imagine my horror of what happened this morning.

This is what happened:

I woke the boys up this morning to get ready for school.  Nephi hadn't taken his medication yet and was standing in front of the dresser looking off into space.  I walked over and nudged him over a little so I could get to the dresser to get out some pants for them.  He then looked right at me and spat, "Oh, my gosh, Mom!  You are so FAT!"  I froze.  My heart and stomach sank right to my feet.  "Fat" is a swear word in our house.  I turned to him and looked him in the eyes and said calmly:

"Excuse me?  What did you just call me?"

"I called you FAT!  Because that is what you look like!"  I was speechless.  Haven't I raised my boys better than this?  What had gotten into him.  I held back my tears, shoved his pants at him and told him to get dressed.

I went in the bathroom, shut the door, and sobbed.

Put downs were not allowed in our house.  I thought I was a better mom than this!

When I calmed down, I found the boys in the living room eating breakfast.  I had then pulled some pictures up online of some morbidly obese people.  Not people who were just sitting there or walking around, but the ones of the people stuffing a hamburger in their face... and that horrid one of the lady sitting in the power chair eating the block of cheese.

I showed them to the boys.

"See these people?  These are FAT people.  These are people who don't care or don't know how to take care of themselves.  They eat bad foods, drink lots of sugar drinks, and don't exercise.  These are people who have resigned to be FAT.  That is THEIR choice and state of mind.  Is this what you think of me?!"

They were quiet.

"Well, is it?!"

"No, Mommy!"  They both said.

"I am not skinny.  I know that.  I have had 3 kids and have some health problems that make it hard to lose weight.  But I work HARD.  I eat right, and work out, and I teach you boys to be healthy and active as well.  I make your lunch so you don't have to eat the crap at school and I cook healthy dinners for you.  I let you walk home from school and I take you on runs and we run 5k's together!  I know that I am overweight.  But I am NOT FAT!  Fat people don't run half marathons!  So don't you dare call me that again!  In fact, don't you dare call ANYONE that!  You don't know what people are going through in their lives and it isn't up to you to judge me or others.  ESPECIALLY if they are out there doing everything they can to change their lives.  I don't care how big someone is, if they are outside hoofing it down the road, then they are AWESOME!  The only jerk is you for calling names and pointing fingers.  How would you feel if someone called you 'ugly'?"

"I would hate it!  I hate that word!"  Nephi said.

"Then don't call people 'fat' because it's mean too!"

"Okay, Mommy..." They said looking thoroughly chastised.  Sam had tears running down his face.  "Mommy," he said, "I am really sorry, Nephi called you that and hurt your feelings."  I gave him a hug and told him that HE had nothing to be sorry about.  I just wanted him to know that what Nephi said was mean and to learn that we don't say mean things like that to people.

Nephi didn't apologize.  But I could tell he was sorry by the pout on his face.  He has a hard time admitting when he is wrong.  But if he learned something, it was worth it.  I would rather him call me Fat and learn from me why it was wrong, then to go around at school calling other kids that.

"Fat" is a mindset.  I used to be "fat", and I admit that I am still overweight, but I am healthy, I am active and I make good food choices, for myself and for my family.  And some of the most amazing people I know are heavier set, but run like there is no tomorrow!!!  And "fat" never crossed my mind when I see them... not even once!  Because, honestly, when I am running down the road, "fat" is the last thing I am thinking about myself either... mostly I am too busy feeling like a Rock Star!  As should we all!!



Brittney said...

I totally agree with your sentiment. I am not at my ideal weight, but I live like a healthy person. I am not fat. I'm sorry your kids called you that (because I know I would have cried...and I likely wouldn't have made it to the bathroom!)....but you taught them a GREAT lesson.

Bridget said...

I'm sorry that happened! You are such a good Mom to explain it to them. I think that kids just blurt out whatever they are thinking. I have had a hard time losing weight after this baby and Ian kept reminding me things like, "I can't play hide and seek with you mom because your tummy is too big to hide," and other delightful sentiments. We just have to keep explaining to our kids about normal, healthy people and that everyone is different so that someday they will be kind to themselves too! I hope that OK is treating your cute family well!

Amy said...

Amen to that :) I have to have the talk with my daughter who is a stick frequently. I have to remind her that we do not ever call people fat. It is rude, and we have no idea what that person is going through in their life. I hate it that children are taught so early from peers about the fat vs skinny thing. I am not skinny either, I consider myself healthy though, and I aim to keep healthy food in my house. I don't even use the word fat in my house. When I feel sad about my weight I try emphasize wanting to be healthy... not "skinny." Meh.. anyway.. I think it is sad.

Anonymous said...

I went to buy a new dress for an event this weekend and couldn't find anything that I liked that fit. Instead I went to Victoria Secret and bought some shape wear and BAWLED. That was a little earlier today so your post was very timely...thank you.