Saturday, October 11, 2014

The dreaded F word

No, this post is not about swearing, though considering what just transpired I am not sure if a swearing session won't be cathartic.
A week ago while visiting friends, my daughter came running to me crying asking to leave the party. Her friends were calling her fat and they wouldn't stop. I pulled her friend(who is smaller than my daughter) aside and asked her why she felt the need to talk so and she just answered, "But she is fat". We walked out as I felt that my Implet needed my support.
Maya is a regular, active, healthy first grader. She has always been on the higher side of the growth curve so is definitely not a 'skinny' girl. She is an empathetic, beautiful and smart girl with a sunny personality. She is many things but fat. I am not being defensive but a growing number of our girls who years ago would not be called fat are being called so now just because 'Skinny' is the new normal. (Now why fat shouldn't really be derogatory is another story for another day).
Walk into any clothing store for young girls and try to buy a pair of jeans. The only options you have are 'Super Skinny', 'Skinny' and 'BootCut/Flare'. Very rarely do you encounter a 'Regular' size. These are not teenagers. They are still in Primary/Elementary School, for crying out loud! Dejected, I asked the salesgirl at The Children's Place if she had any jeans/leggings for kids who just had wide hips and she showed me a pair of 'Boy' jeans which were not as stylish as those Skinny ones. So my first grader can only choose from the Boys section if she wanted to wear denim?
I understand some kids have smaller builds and they have every right to wear fitting clothes. I should know as I also have a 4-year old boy who has steadily refused to budge out of the 8th percentile and who is still wearing 2T shorts. Yet that doesn't imply every other average kid has to be labelled 'fat'. In our home we try to eat healthy. Our kids see their parents being active, choosing healthy food and not worry about body images. However our children spend more hours outside, in playgrounds and classrooms learning life lessons from their peers. I don't want her or him judged because they can't get their beautiful body inside a pair of disproportionately designed 'Skinny' jeans.
I try my best to teach them that fat is not a bad word. Being healthy and able to climb a tree are more important childhood milestones than how big your thighs are(It wouldn't hurt to do those in a pair of comfortable shorts/jeans). Loving people for who they are than how they look is the sign of a true friend.
Hopefully one day she would walk into a store by herself to buy clothes and will not walk out feeling humiliated. But for now we are boycotting skinny jeans and the stores that carry them.

Edited to add: Here are some relevant articles that are talking about the same issue.
Dressing our Daughters
Standing up for our children
Mommy, am I too fat for A&F?

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Anonymous Ramya Prabhu said...

While growing up, I don't ever remember weight being a topic of discussion either at home or at school when we were that age. It is really sad that Maya had to go through this at such a tender age. I am glad you are adressing this topic in front of her and teaching her the right values about body size and confidence.. Eating disorders among teenagers is a norm here and i can see why! Did you have a discussion with the girl's mom? I feel like she should be made aware so she might have a discussion with her daughter about appropriate conversations..

9:40 AM  
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