I'd like to start of this off stating that I love kids. Kids are fun. Yeah, I don't have any of my own. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate them. But sometimes what's frustrating is the mirror that children reflect back on you. I feel with any kid that I meet there is always that completely innocent statement saying something about my weight. 'Why are you so big'. 'Boy you're fat'. 'Why do you eat so much to get fat.' And tonight's great one...'You can go to the Doctor to get that puppy out of you'...which apparently was in the terms that her parents had talked about pregnancy. And the parents always turn a blind eye. I either get an embarrassed apology from them or just complete ingorance and a quick change of subject.
Now I don't blame the kid for anything. It really is innocent. They see the world around them in certain terms and they want to question anything out of their norm. I am the biggest person that I know. My circle of friends is all skinny people. So I know why they're bringing it up. But it never fails that however much I tell myself that they don't mean any harm it always hurts when they say it. I always tear up and get extremely embarrassed. And then I do exactly what the parents do...turn a blind eye or quickly change the subject. I can't tell you how many times I've said afterwards.....so what did you do in school today?...just to get tehm distracted.
I'm not really sure what I'm getting at with this post except to say that I'm continuing on with this journey also because I'm tired of getting called out by children. I appreciate their honesty but sometimes their honesty hits too close to home. I'd like for them to notice me for something other than my weight. Anyone else have any issues with this? And how do you get through it?
09-16-2011, 12:03 AM
In my mom's daycare, when I was about 18, we had this little girl whose name I've completely forgotten. Anyway, she was pretty cute, albeit a trouble maker.
One day, I was sitting upstairs at the computer wearing a tanktop. I was only about 210 pounds at the time. She ran up to me and with big eyes said: "Why are your arms so big?!" Before I could say anything she kept talking "Are your arms big so you can fight monsthters?" and then "I wish my arms were big!" before she ran off to play outside.
I think the important thing to remember is a lot of children, especially young children, don't judge based on your weight. If you asked a 4-year-old why he didn't like someone, he'd say something about what that person did rather than what they are.
And, like you said, children question everything. If your hair was blonde and everyone around him had been brunette, he'd ask why your hair was the colour it is.
Half the time, the questions children ask don't mean much of anything; it's their way of communicating and learning. Like a child asking their parent what the racy billboard means. They can't comprehend what it is, they just want to know. Case in point: We were driving home one time when my sister was really little and we passed the only strip joint in town. It had this sign hanging out front with a woman with her back turned to you, standing infront of a pole, wearing just a G-string and thigh high stockings. No other nudity was seen. My sister looked at it and went "Mommy! What's that?!" Rather than having a long discussion with her about how it's a club that men go into and blah blah, mom just said "Oh, it's a sign honey." My sister went "oh...hey can we go to McDona's?"
Rather than turning a blind eye, maybe engage the child? Ask them when they ask "Why are you so big", "Why are you so small?" (with a laugh or a smile of course). Or to "Boy you're fat" something like "I am! Aren't I? But you know what? Maybe next time I see you I won't be as fat. And you'll be taller!"
I think parents turn a blind eye because, as adults, we're conditioned to believe that such questions or exclamations are socially inappropriate, and they are when coming from a judgmental viewpoint that is only "pointing out the obvious" not merely commenting on something new to their surroundings.
Personally, I take the 'head-on' approach with anyone (child or adult) who comments on my fatness. With adults, it's usually a snarky reply (because it's usually a snarky comment), but with kids, I try to make it lighthearted, like it isn't anything to sneeze at. I think if people raised children like that, there would be less obesity-prejudice in the world. Those of us with weight problems wouldn't feel embarrassed, even in places where we're trying to get healthy (like the gym). It people just looked at obesity more as akin to a hair colour, the world would be much happier, I think.
Hopefully some of this made sense. I'm extremely exhausted right now and dreading my second outing to the gym today.
Chin up - and be glad (at least once) that you don't have children and have to be on the parental line of those uncomfortable questions!
09-16-2011, 07:05 AM
As a mother I can tell you that kids do comment on everything and it really is their way of communicating, trying to understand the world. It CAN be really uncomfortable at times but it's what they need to understand the world. They also have no clue about social conventions and what's polite to ask and what isn't (and trying to explaining that to them can be a nightmare at times :lol:).
I can think of a number of examples of when DD has asked questions that would be considered socially inappropriate. There's a kid in our apt building, for instance, that has a facial deformity. We ran into him and his nanny and she kept asking why the kid was making a funny face at her. :( I told her that he wasn't doing that and that was how he is and basically tried to distract her so she wouldn't continue to ask the child and make him feel bad. There's really not much you can do in these situations beyond distraction/changing the subject because normally the person who is the target of the child's questions would be made to feel pretty uncomfortable if you addressed the child's questions in front of him/her.
Now at home we'll talk about these things. That you have to treat everyone equally regardless of their looks etc. However, I'm not really sure what else you would've wanted from the parents? Most likely they are having these talks with their kids at home but I guarantee you that if they were really to delve into the topic in front of you it wouldn't have been comfortable for you (I know from experience when DD kept asking questions after I had had a miscarriage, they still come up sometimes today months later).
When you're around a kid a lot you have to grow a tough skin because they can say things that hurt. DD has told DH that she doesn't want him, only mommy (thankfully she's past that stage!) but it does hurt. However, she absolutely loves him and never really means it. Part of parenting is to teach kids these social conventions, when it is appropriate to ask question (and when it isn't). Kids eventually learn but it doesn't happen overnight!
09-16-2011, 07:42 AM
My nephew asked me (when he was 4) where my kids were. I told him I didn't have any yet and he just looked at me like I had told him that the sky was orange. I asked him why he thought I had kids and he told me it was because I was fat and mommies are fat. I had just started working on weight loss at the time and was still over 200. I also have fertility issues (both my own and my DH's), so it hurt a lot. Since it was my nephew and not some other child I was able to just talk to him myself since I knew his mommy (who is also fat) would want me to. I just told him that yes, I was fat, but that not all fat people are mommies and not all mommies are fat. I explained to him that when a mommy is growing a baby it makes it easier for her to get fat and that's why so many mommies have more fat than people who aren't mommies. I gave him a couple examples of mommies that aren't fat (including one of his other aunts) and a couple examples of people who aren't mommies who are fat (including papa). He seemed to get it. You can help children understand the world pretty easily if you just ask them why when they make comments or ask questions because it lets you know what it is you need to tell them. I then told him I had to go potty and went and had myself a good cry.
09-16-2011, 07:58 AM
I have to echo what has already been said. Kids learn by asking questions. And we "teach" them to learn that way - we ask, "What does the cow say?" and "What color is this?" We ask them questions to get them to give the correct answer and reinforce what they learned.
An example from my own DD still gets comments from my friends and family. She was about 5. Our neighborhood paperboy had been approached by a group of older boys who took the money ha had been collecting for the papers. They happened to be "black." (I'm not saying this to offend - it's integral to the story.) Older kids in the neighborhood told all the kids to let their parents know if they saw any black kids they didn't know hanging around (we have a nicely mixed ethnic group in my quiet little neighborhood.) DD asked me what a "black" kid was. I referred her to some classmates, neighbors, and her dad's cousin's husband. She said they weren't black. I tried to explain "black" "red" yellow" and "white" as skin colors. She said, "Aunt Jo is white." (My SIL is very light complected.) I said, "And so are we." She looked at my face, then down to her arm - back and forth several times like I was crazy and asked, "Aren't WE the tan people?" Well, she had me there! I guess we are the tan people. The degrees of color meant nothing to her.
I think degrees of weight mean nothing to most children, unless they've already been warped by warped parents. No help for that. But I have to agree that they are just observing a difference and asking about it. We would never be hurt if they asked "Why is your hair so long?" And the best approach is to say something light hearted like Rainbowgirl suggested. Everyone wins. The parents feel better, you have put them at ease, and the child has learned that people change.
09-16-2011, 08:55 AM
When I've had that situation come up with my own daughter - "BOY MOMMY! You sure have a squishy tummy!!!" I just shrugged it off and said 'Yup, people come in all shapes and sizes! Just like you are small, and daddy is tall!' She never really brought it up again after that, because I explained it in a way that made sense to her. And I knew she wasn't judging me - she wasn't saying it in a disgusted way, just in a curious way, even if it was a little too enthusiastic. :D
09-16-2011, 09:00 AM
Oh yes, my son told me I was so big I wouldn't fit in the boat when he and Daddy were going fishing. He wasn't trying to be mean, he was seriously concerned. *sigh*
09-16-2011, 10:05 AM
I just shrugged it off and said 'Yup, people come in all shapes and sizes! Just like you are small, and daddy is tall!' :D
I've heard similar responses before, and they're always my favorite.
Children are natural born scientists, they want to understand what they see. So if something is different they want to find out about it. It doesn't always come out tactfully... because I've never met a child who was a natural born Miss Manners.
Their attention span is also usually short, so a simple acknowledgement, and brief statement is all that's usually necessary. And it can also take the pressure off the situation when parents don't know how to respond.
"Boy, you're big!"
"Yep. I'm big. And you're small. People come in so many varieties. It's pretty great!"
Bonus! You get to teach them that different doesn't mean bad!
09-16-2011, 10:50 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone. I do understand that the comments are never said to be insulting. And I liked the comment about hair. I wouldn't get offended if they asked about my hair. So why is it that I am about my body? I think in the end it shows my problem with my weight and how I'm not happy about it. Because if I was then this wouldn't bother me so much and I would have much better answers for the kids. Maybe one day I'll get there. :-)
09-16-2011, 04:01 PM
We get upset when the comment is about our bodies and not about our hair because, as adults, we know that we should not be the weight we are. Hair is neither good nor bad. Too much weight is "bad" from a health standpoint. That's my point - a child doesn't know the difference - but we do. We have to take the comment for what it's worth - no insult is ever intended! And think how often we say to a child we haven't seen in a while, "My you've gotten big since I saw you." My weight has made me aware of even that innocent statement - now I try to say "tall" instead of "big." Or note that their hair is different, or whatever. I just try not to say "big."
I think we'de react just as strongly if they commented on anything we see as a negative - as adults - where a child is simply observing.
09-16-2011, 04:26 PM
I think we'de react just as strongly if they commented on anything we see as a negative - as adults - where a child is simply observing.
yep, plus they have no filter. Whatever thought that comes into their head, it comes out their mouth. Even if they knew and understood that people don't like to be told they are fat, they don't stop to think about that before they say something.
My 7 year old sometimes asks why I am trying to get smaller (which is the terminology I generally use with him, rather than talking so much about weight itself). He knows that he eats healthy foods to get big and strong, so I explained to him that some people can get too big and as I get smaller, I am able to do more fun things with him. So now he cheers me on the scale and gets so excited if the Wii Fit says I have lost any weight, although he has also warned me to not get underweight or I could blow away! lol! (I think I have about 100 lbs to go before that would be a concern!)
For me, now that I have joined 3FC and I'm actively working on getting smaller, the comments bother me less. I can agree with a child and say yes, I am too big but I am working on getting smaller and doing lots of the fun things they do like running around.
09-16-2011, 04:28 PM
Don't feel bad. My husband's pretty average sized everywhere except his stomach. My son asked him a few weeks ago if he was going to have a baby. :rofl: Oi!!
Then one day we were in his room and I sat in one of his chairs that are made for kids. Ok, I was more perching because the seats like 8"X6"... dang things tiny... Anyway, he looked at me and said, "Mommy, you can't sit there. Your butt's too big!" He didn't mean I'm fat but as others have said, it's just observation. (And it was too big for the chair!)
My son asks "Why?" about everything and I mean everything. I'm all for teaching but it's "Why is there grass in our yard?" Because it was planted and watered and is nicer than dirt. "Why?" Because dirt gets you all messy and isn't very nice looking. "Why?" OMG Holy crap! :lol: This has gone on for a solid 30 minutes until I just couldn't keep going and say "Because it just is!"
09-16-2011, 10:27 PM
As a very new parent, I have been paying attention to this a lot for the last year in preparation for the day when my own little goddess asks this question and the one thing I do want to point out is that I never want a parent to scold or punish their child for asking about size. This reinforces that fat=shame and that is pushed enough in our culture.
I think it's hard to respond to questions like that without taking it personally. However, try turning the question around. A lot of times their queries are a reflection of what's going on in their own lives. A kid in TJ Maxx once touched my stomach and asked if I had a baby in there (she was such a wee little one) and I said, "No, I don't have a baby in there. Do you know someone with a baby in their belly?" Sure enough, her mom did.
09-17-2011, 04:55 AM
As a Mother to 6 children myself I think it's best just to remind small children everyone is unique. Big,small,short or tall even physically and mentally handicapped the world is full of different people.
We have a guy friend who is over 500 pounds. I had never prepped my children to actually see him and what they may say or ask because it never dawned on me. But I could see it on the younger kids faces because he is the largest person they had ever seen but they never asked . They talked to him and figured out quickly what a great guy he is. To this day 5 years later my kids have never stated the obvious or even questioned it. He lives far away and ever so often they ask when they will see him again because he is so much fun.
It's like kids talking about poop at the dinner table you teach them what is appropriate and that is how they learn, ignoring it doesn't help the situation. It's not just a weight issue either. My Mother got braces on her teeth at 50 years old after a small child at her church asked her very loudly why she had crooked teeth.
09-20-2011, 08:11 AM
Nikki - I love your comment about talking about poop at the dinner table - it IS all about appropriate behavior and teaching that to our children without prejudice.
And kids do comment on what they observe. This is related to age, not weight, but my daughter once asked me who was older - me or grammy. I asked her who she thought was older. She said, "Well, grammy looks older, but I think you are older than her." I then asked her why she thought that and she answered, "I think you're older because grammy doesn't have any kids yet." She had no concept that grammy was her father's mother. Or even that her father (or any adult) had been someone's child. She had seen photos of her dad and aunts as children - she just didn't make the connection.
It's all about doing our jobs as adults / parents to help the children in our lives (and sometimes they are the children of strangers) grow and become aware of the differences that make us all unique.
09-20-2011, 05:13 PM
My grandmother, who was a big woman who children always loved and were drawn to, had a stock response when kids commented on her weight.
"I'm not fat," she would respond, nonplussed, "You must have fat eyeballs." They never asked or commented again...