My daughter came out of the bath saying, “I hate that I’m fat.” I grew up in a house where that was the worst possible trait a person could possess. So all the triggers started firing.
I have spent years working on my relationship with food and with my body. We rarely mention weight or “healthy foods.” We talk about exercise that feels good and construct meals with balanced nutrients. We talk about foods that feed our souls and have a place in our lives even if their nutritional content is low. We talk about enjoying life while also nourishing ourselves and listening to how our bodies feel.
I don’t think my children have ever heard me use the words “skinny” or “fat,” and yet I’ve heard them use them. The first time one of my daughters tucked in her tummy asking if she was skinny enough threw me into an absolute tail spin. I was so shocked and so hurt that my daughter felt the need to change herself so young. And I was furious that diet culture had infiltrated my house, unbeknownst to me.
But this time, I was ready. I asked her what fat meant. Then I asked her why it was a bad thing. I told her that all bodies line up differently on a continuum; no two are alike. I explained to her that if her doctor said she was healthy, how could there be anything wrong with her body?
She said actresses are skinny. I then told her that many of them don’t eat or have a healthy relationship with food. I asked her, “What is more important: to have a specific body type or enjoy your life?”
She thought about it before responding. “I want to enjoy my life.”
“Then we choose to love ourselves. No body type can give you happiness; only your mind can do that.”
We continued the conversation, and I kept my calm. Where the first incident left us all crying because my daughters were so distraught by my reaction, this time I responded with logic and poise. I kicked diet culture’s ass today. I refuse to be a victim within her vicious grip. And I will equip my daughters to fight back too.