"Look at all those rolls!! And that tummy,” a fellow mom said adoringly. “Yeah, but I hope she’s not fat when she gets older,” replied the toddler’s mother without skipping a beat.
It starts early, this body shaming.
So freaking early. Not to mention by the people who love us most.
I glanced over at my two beautiful babies. They were playing independently- blissfully unaware of their own bodies, or of the excessive obsession that adults around them have with body size and shape. I could plainly see their brains sprouting as they stacked blocks, interacted with others, and discovered cause and effect while chasing and popping bubbles. I could also unmistakably see future limits being placed upon them. I could see the ceiling closing in on them as they approach the point where they leave the land of “cute baby fat” and enter the world where the word “fat” becomes ugly.
My biggest hope is not that my children won’t grow up to be fat.
It’s that they will grow up to be healthy, happy, grounded, soulful, intelligent, curious, compassionate individuals. My hope is that they see the strength and power of their bodies, and the significance of their most authentic selves. My hope is that they find things they are passionate about, and go after these passions. My hope is that they can see beauty beyond the surface, and that they love the unique beauty of their bodies - beyond their weight, shape, or size. They have both been cursed/blessed with my unruly curly hair - I hope they embrace it (or learn to straighten it). I hope they are sensitive souls, but still have skin thick enough to brush off people whose biggest hope is that they are not fat.
My hope is that their definition of ugly is not synonymous with fat. My hope is that they know that fat doesn’t have to be an insult. That fat can simply an adjective, among many other adjectives that might describe them.
I look at my twins, both so different in appearance and personality, and I think: what a beautiful nose. What gorgeous curls. What delicious looking legs. What incredibly smart minds. What spunk this one has. What a firecracker this one is. What a leader this one will be. What a thinker this one will be. I wonder who will be an artist. I wonder who will play soccer.
My hopes are a little bit different from that worried mother. If we’re being totally honest here, my immediate hopes and dreams go something like this: I hope she doesn’t throw something important in the trash (like my husband’s wallet) when I’m not looking. And if that happens, I hope it’s not on trash day.