To The Families Of The Fat Kid

To The Families Of The Fat Kid // fatgirlflow.com

Shut up.

Just fucking stop talking. Stop asking what they ate today. Stop talking about the new diet you heard of. Hold your breath (forever if need be) when a sudden comment of concern arises in your throat. Just, shut up.

You think you are helping. I get it. But let’s talk about what really happens when you try to give your loved ones unsolicited advice about their bodies  and their food intake. When you make them lunch and don’t include any foods that are exciting or tasty that they asked for, they don’t sit in the cafeteria quietly nourishing their bodies, thankful that their parent knows best. They learn that in order to get the foods that they want, they must be sneaky. They find quarters between couch  cushions, or maybe even borrow some from your purse, and they find the vending machine after lunch. What could have just been a treat in their lunch box, has now turned into a full on adventure that proved to them how fun it is to find ways to sneak the food they want, and then feel the overwhelming sense of reward that sweeps over their body as they eat. If you’re lucky, they’ll forget that feeling quickly and let it manifest into shame. Because  that’s what you want right? You want them to feel ashamed of eating that food you didn’t give them. If you’re not  lucky, they’ll seek it out for the rest of their lives, looking for that little high that feels just like sitting in the bathroom eating a snickers bar before the lunch bell rings and they have to run back to class, their stomachs uncomfortably full from eating too much too fast.

When you say to them “I love you, but I’m concerned for your health”, imagine what it is like to always hear “but…” after every “I love you”. Imagine for a moment what it must feel like to be a kid, or a person of any age, who feels like the love they receive is contingent upon how well they’re executing this week’s diet plan. As you watch them exercise more, and eat less ask yourself why you require someone you love to shrink themselves. When they come to you starry eyed and tell you that they had salad for lunch and didn’t drink any (sugar laden) juice, think about the environment you’re creating when each “healthy” meal requires validation from another person. What happens when you are not there to congratulate them on their inhibition?

Have you ever considered the effects of teaching a person that they cannot trust their own body? That each cue they receive internally is just another way to ruin their commitment to thinness? What it must feel like to be housed in a space that you cannot trust to keep you safe? Imagine you’ve been taught that everything your body tells you about your needs is wrong. Do you believe that those feelings stop with eating? Some times when they’re hungry, they don’t eat. Their empty stomachs a small symbol of accomplishment. Some times when they feel uncomfortable they don’t speak up. They’ve been taught that their bodies feeling discomfort is normal, something to be proud of. It doesn’t stop with food.

As you reach for solutions to solve the “problem” of someone else’s body, consider for a moment that you may not have all the information you need. You may not know what kind of impact you will have. Consider that we are all different, and what may have worked for you or someone you know may have a very real, very permanent effect on someone else. When you decide to make it your goal to control another person, however small, just… don’t. Take a breath. Do some reading. And shut the fuck up.

fatgirlflow.com

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  • Courtney Lee
    November 5, 2015 at 12:06 am

    this is wonderfully well written, and everything I need to say to my mother on behalf of myself and all of my sisters. I’m linking her to this. thank you.

    • Morgan King
      November 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Great insight on some ideas and feelings that parents tend to forget or are oblivious to…..I certainly will rethink my ways of handling my children’s dietary intake.

  • Hayley
    November 5, 2015 at 12:59 am

    This is so so so so so true. Soooo many of your blog posts resonate with my soul.

    My first diet? I was 8. I remember my incredibly fat Doctor talking to my mom about “sugar busters” and then we went home and changed our every eating habit. The only thing that didn’t change was the fact I was fat or my eating habits because shaming me wasn’t the answer. I snuck food into my room at night, traded food with people at lunch, stole money from my parents change jar, I did everything I could to find “feel good” food.

    I was never encouraged to love who I was, I was always told if I changed who I was the love would come naturally. I remember all of the bargains my mom tried to use with me to get me to lose weight; at age 10 “I’ll let you be a princess for Halloween if you lose 40 pounds,” at age 13 “I’ll let you pierce your eye brow if you lose 50 pounds!” at age 16 “I’ll buy you a new car if you lose 100 pounds!” At age 18 “I’ll buy you this prom dress if you lose 100 pounds, but it won’t look good on you unless you do!”

    At almost 25 years old and living almost 3000 miles away from my mother, I still find her sending me messages on Facebook like “we should try this diet together!” CurrentlyI am planning my wedding and she keeps asking what size dress I need, but I haven’t seen my mom in over 3 years and she doesn’t realize I’m even fatter than I was when I left and I’m afraid to tell her because she will absolutely judge me and shame me. I’m healing and I have a great partner who has encouraged me to heal and forgive my past, but I’m tired of the cycle of emotional abuse I’ve endured.

    Basically shut the fuck up is EXACTLY what these people need to hear.

  • Tiana the Fat Health Coach
    November 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

    You’ve hit the target with this one! Love it! The “buts” after “I love you”, the secret eating thrill, learning to ignore our innate body cues… so many microaggressions in the name of health. Thanks for being frank and throwing out this challenge to those who think they’re helping but really harming.

  • Marcy Potter
    November 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Oh, how about that ever so asinine line… “If I don’t tell you, who will?” Well, in the first place, the world is full of people like you, who think it is their job to point out the flaws in others. In the second place, why do you think I need to be told? Do you honestly think that I don’t realize I”m overweight? Gee, too bad I can’t be as smart and observant as you! I swear, one of these days I’ll say that!

    • fatgirlflow
      November 6, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      you are reading my mind Marcy!!!! <3

  • Gayla Ber
    November 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh, because YES!! That is SO MY LIFE. Or cry because YES!! That is SO MY LIFE!!

    My mother is thin. She’s so thin, she’s been diagnosed anorexic in the past. My life after puberty was filled with “I’ll pay for this diet program” or “Do you really think you should eat that” or “Can you eat that on your diet?”

    And of course, the ever so popular: “I love you, but…” Even my husband does it. I’m sending this to both of them.

    • fatgirlflow
      November 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      I’m so sorry. It’s not ok for anyone to treat you like that, especially not loved ones. I hope this helps to open their eyes just a little bit <3

  • Rach
    November 7, 2015 at 9:31 am

    This made me weep. I still sneak food and I’m 30. Every time my parents see me… How’s your weight? Do you want that potato? Ever time I loose weight and tell them they are delighted. Every time a new diet starts they congratulate me. I’m an ER nurse and save lives, I’m fit and healthy, I have a beautiful partner who hates they way they talk to me. So yeah SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    • fatgirlflow
      November 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      AMEN!!!! I’m so sorry you still have to go through that Rach. That’s not fair. <3 I'm glad you can identify with the post and I hope it empowers you a little bit <3

  • Brenna T
    November 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you for writing what I’ve internalized for 30 years and couldn’t begin to explain.

  • Carolyn
    November 8, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, this grants a new perspective.
    My parents weren’t like this when I was a kid, so I haven’t thought of that. I do remember my mom complaining that her mom always had her dieting. I saw pics of when she was younger, I really didn’t think she looked overweight. (But my g-ma was tiny)
    My mom is now a Physician Assistant, and raising my 2yr old nephew. She has expressed concern about his weight. How should one approach the issue if a child is an unhealthy weight? (I mean for health reasons, not vanity)

    • aphyde
      November 8, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Is he actually an unhealthy weight? He’s two years old. Toddlers’ bodies change rapidly. You’re in control of his food and his activity. Worry more about whether he has access to a healthy diet and enough activity than whether he looks right. If he does, then consider whether he has a health issue that isn’t “fatness.” And make sure your mother isn’t commenting to him about his appearance. He’s TWO!

  • Lyn
    November 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    And then there are those of us that eat less, exercise more. . . but it won’t matter because we have a hereditary disease that won’t allow our bodies to lose weight (hello thyroid) and everyone (doctors and family included) just told me I wasn’t trying hard enough. Now, 25 years later, the doctors finally acknowledge it. . and I still get shamed every time I have an appointment. Thankfully, since I tracked this disease through the family and showed my mother it wasn’t diet, but sickness, she’s backed off some.

    But now? I see my 2 beautiful daughters starting the fight with doctors– thankfully, because we have always eaten healthy (not insane, just a healthy balanced diet their entire lives) they have not started as large as I was at their age, so they have not encountered as much of the shaming at the hands of doctors (and NEVER at my hands. . I lived it, I refused to do it). But it hurts to see your children follow the same ugly path, with no choice because other people have not learned from past errors. .

  • Karen O'Donoghue
    November 8, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    They’ve been taught that their bodies feeling discomfort is normal, something to be proud of. It doesn’t stop with food.

    This is where I started crying. I still remember the day I found out that for most people, even most people on strict diets, paralyzing waves of belly pain just wasn’t normal. In fact pain wasn’t normal & ignoring it could endanger your life.

    • fatgirlflow
      November 9, 2015 at 12:44 am

      I know this feeling so well Karen <3

  • Gala
    November 9, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I cannot begin to describe how true this is. I think my mother, love her as much as I do, has been trying to police what I eat ever since I was 12 – at which point I wore a bigger dress size than her (still do, we’re built differently). And yes, at some points I wasn’t exactly healthy I’m not going to deny that. But at the same time, it’s all sorts of sad that at age 26 I’ve STILL got a secret stash of food in my bedroom. Just as I did at age thirteen. And have had at all phases in between, be I “obese” or “athletic” or “too skinny to have my period” or anything in-between… been there, done that. (Even though I think at the moment I’d get more busted for protein bars than Mars bars as she seems to think the former are drugs!)
    For goodness sake people please educate yourself. Any extreme is BAD and not everybody is built the same way. Do a chihuahua and a husky need to look the same because they are both dogs? Nope. So why should there be an ideal for all humans? Teach your kid that the occasional treat is totally fine in moderation as long as they eat well and are active otherwise. And healthy food doesn’t need to be tasteless. And most “diets” are actually super unhealthy (don’t get me started on the diet pills I’ve been put on as a teenager by my parents!) and it’s actually a healthy lifestyle you need to adapt. Think your kid is too fat to be a princess? LET HER BE A PRINCESS. It’s confidence she needs and denying it is just bad.
    I could go on forever but you get the picture. Love shouldn’t happen depending on your kid’s waist measurement or dress size. Get them excited about healthy food, find an activity they love so they’ll stick to it, don’t keep them hungry and judge!
    Thank you so so much for putting this article out there.

  • Melissa
    November 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Yes, this blog post. I’m 38 and this is the story of my relationship with my parents.

    Two years ago, on the day my mother retired from her job, there was a mix up with the flowers I’d bought to be delivered to her office that day. So I called her and congratulated her and (sparing the details of the flower snafu) told her how hard I’d tried to send her flowers on her special day. And I kid you not, she said, “That’s no big deal. The only gift I need is for you to get serious about your health. In the past year, you’ve blown up like a balloon.”

    And that was my moment of revolution. That was the event that finally sent me down a path of body acceptance. But it was a hell of a painful journey to get here.

    Thank you for voicing this problem with the families of fat kids so eloquently. This post brought me another moment of catharsis and healing. xoxo

  • Blair Osburn
    January 18, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    OH MY WOW. This resonates so much. For the longest time I internalized it and had decided that my mom would finally love me if I just worked harder to be thin. Every time I failed, I thought “well, I must be a bad person because I can’t succeed at this.” It’s so fucked up that it’s understood that people should unconditionally love their children and at the same time, it’s widely accepted that the one condition that is fine to have is that your child must be thin to receive that love. Thank you so much for this post, you are the kind of babe the world needs more of.

    Btw: I just found you through your YouTube videos and I am smitten! I can’t wait to see more videos from you!

  • Ginger
    February 15, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    I see you managed to time travel and caught up with my mother. She always hated my body as it was always “too” much of something for her to handle. She was an out of control crazy but loved to control, monitor, police, and critique my every bite. Shut up shut up shut up was what she needed to hear. But of course I was powerless back then. I don’t have a relationship with her now. Would it sound too unkind to say I do not miss her!?

  • Jane Doe
    May 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Why would I say “I love you, but I’m concerned about your health.”?

    I’m much too authoritative to coddle a kid with such soft words. If I noticed my kid was getting overweight, I’d change his/her diet and put him/her in the gym without any questions asked. No lunch money, and no Ipads, or other creature comforts, until the weight loss goal was met and STAYED that way. Maybe it’s a tiger mom thing, but as far as I’m concerned, mom knows best, and the kid needs to obey the rules until (s)he has left the house. But then again, I would never feed my child junk on a regular basis and thereby destroy his/her palate in the first place. My child would to learn to appreciate our ethnic cuisine, which has many delicious yet healthy dishes.

    • fatgirlflow
      May 2, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      …. are you ok?

      • Anon
        May 9, 2016 at 7:10 am

        Jane Doe, am I to believe by the term ‘would’ means you have no children? Far out, lady, you have no idea what your talking about.. You are dealing with another human, who has their own complex personality, agenda and is not simply your piece of clay to mould. You can bully and you can restrict and you can role model but these are only effective to the extent they are let be.. I feel sorry for you, that level of ignorance is going to set you up for a hard time..

    • Theresa P.
      May 23, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Careful there Doe. Treat your kid nice or they’ll end up holding some deep traumatic grudge that they don’t even realize they had until they’re grown up. At least that’s how I experienced it. I love my parents, but their weight-shaming ways are just evil and hurtful. Those “tiger mom” things you’ve said, that’s how you treat animals who doesn’t have a free will, or maybe a robot, not a human being.

  • Theresa P.
    May 23, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Well, this is scarily accurate… Parents always shaming me about my eating habits. Forcing me to measure my weight, and after that, some more shaming.. It makes me hate myself. I want to spend my time with my parents, but how can I enjoy it if everytime I met them, they always told me that I gained weight, fatter.. Eventhough my weight was the same as before. I can’t even enjoy a scoop of ice cream without feeling extremely guilty afterwards, and end up hating myself before bedtime.

    • fatgirlflow
      May 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

      so much love to you <3