This morning after I completed my half hour indoor power walk workout (with Jessica Smith, check her out if you are in search of a great at-home exercise program), I took a break at my kitchen table. I’d not changed out of my normal workout attire just yet which meant I was in my sports bra and shorts. My midriff was showing. Now, after a workout, I usually feel pretty good, both physically and psychologically. Exercise wasn’t a normal part of my life until after I’d become a mother for the second time and about 15 months ago I added it in as something I strive to do daily, and I usually achieve that goal. So, not only do I feel pretty great about myself in the moment after completing another morning of exercise but I feel… a long term satisfaction that is truly quite fulfilling. Because I was able to overcome laziness and adopt this new lifestyle later in life and that makes me feel amazing.
So this morning, while I took a break before finding what clothes I was going to wear for the day, I had the proverbial rug pulled out from under me and my feelings of pride and accomplishment were almost squashed. Almost.
Five year old son walked up to me and stated, while pinching more than an inch on my torso under my sports bra, “Mom, you look fat.”
I was stunned. In my house, we don’t refer to one another as fat. I’ve heard the kids call people outside of our home fat but I’ve been quick to remind them that it’s often a hurtful word.
I knew that the way that I responded mattered. Not only did it matter because it could potentially shape the way he views and treats women in the future but it also mattered that my daughter would hear my response (as would my other son and my husband).
Taking a deep breath, I stood.
“Son, let me tell you right here and right now that you must never tell anyone that they look fat ever again. It will not do you any favors and will get you no where good in life. People do not want to hear that they are fat. Furthermore, I am not fat and I do not look fat. I am not skinny. I am healthy. I look fine for a woman of my age who has given birth to three children. This is not fat. This is healthy.”
He walked away. My husband told him he had to apologize to me and then he came into the kitchen, grabbed me, kissed me and told me that I look fine. Our son witnessed this too.
Not only do I feel good about the way I handled the situation but I also feel good about how far I’ve come. Somehow, over the years, I’ve learned to love most things about my body. Sure, there are a few things that aren’t ideal but I look fine. I take care of myself and I work hard to keep myself not only looking good but feeling well. My children witness this and it is my prayer that I will have taught them to have a healthy and realistic view of their bodies as they grow into adults.