Getting Rid of The F Word

No, not that F word.  And not that one either (although in my opinion, the first is used way too much and the second should never be used at all).  The F Word I’m talking about is equally ugly, inappropriate and hurtful.  And my five-year-old used it this week. 

“Mommy, my friend Ryan* is fat.”

I dropped my kitchen knife in shock.  “Does it matter if he’s fat?”

He shrugged.

“Isn’t he fun to play with?  Don’t you like having him around?”

“Yeah.”

“Then why do you care what he looks like?”

Conversations like that scare me. I don’t want to raise tomorrow’s shallow jerk.  I want my son to be kind and sensitive. I want him to pick friends because they have common interests (something besides sports and video games).  I want him to date girls who are something besides pretty. 

And raising that kid starts with me. 

My little boy has heard the word “fat” out of my mouth way more than I’d like to admit. Not because I poke fun at overweight people, but because I’m hard on myself. 

Appearance has always been an issue for me.  I like to look good…I can probably count the number of times I’ve left the house without makeup.  Please don’t hate me for being vain.  I’m being brutally honest here.  I know I worry too much about other people’s opinions.  My kids are going to be the same way unless I can change. 

I’m not really sure how to be different.  This behavior has had thirty years of conditioning.  The only thing I can think to do is watch how I judge and speak about myself…and let my little girl go without a bow once in a while and let my son go an extra week without a hair cut. 

And of course, be a good example when it comes to people who look, think or act differently.

The old Sunday school song has it right.  “Kindness begins with me.”

*Name has been changed. 

8 Comments

  • Kelly

    As a little kid family mbers always gave me a hard time for being…the ‘f’ word. I grew up with a complex, but oddly, not terrible self-esteem. (As an aside, I built up my self-esteem all by myself; I didn’t rely on others for validation. Not because I was doing it in purpose, simply because I cared more about my own opinions). One day as a twenty-seven year old “grown-up”, I ran across some photos from this ‘f’ word time in my life. I was astounded! I was thin! I wasn’t a stick-figure-need-to-eat-a-sandwich-extra-mayo-please kind of thin, but I was the same size as my “skinny” friends. Upon showing these pictures to my mother, she said, “Well no, you were never fat.” I got angry for awile and then realized I couldn’t change the past. My overall point to you is this: you are mindful about what you are saying to your children. Now, and most importantly, you will be mindful of what you show them

  • wendy

    Sooooo true. I don’t know as you are Vain sweet Becky, you just take pride in yourself, and I think there is a difference there. You want to put your BEST self forward.
    Agreed….we MUST teach our children to NOT label anyone. And it does begin with what they hear at home, those voices MUST be stronger then the ones they’ll hear from school, peers, etc. You are and will continue to be a great mom.
    (thanks for loving fat ol’me )tee,hee

  • Becky Wallace

    @Kelly: Thank you so much for your comment! Our views of ourselves are so skewed sometimes!

    @Wendy: Of all people, you know where I get my opinions on appearance. And you’re right, it’s okay to be your best self as long as you recognize the best in others. I miss you!

  • Madeline Bartos

    I think as humans we’re judgmental (whether we care to admit it or not!) so we assume others will judge us. Maybe that’s why we care so much about appearance. It’s good that you’re trying to change your outlook to positively affect you and your children.

  • Gina Blechman

    The truth is, we can’t all be fat and we can’t all be skinny. There will always be a mix of both, and skinny people have to stop judging fat people as lazy and gross and heavier people have to stop judging skinny people as shallow and vain. The stereotype goes both ways. The best you can do is just project that even you are or like to maintain yourself a certain way that it’s okay to be different and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d say you’re doing a pretty good job. 🙂

    <3 Gina Blechman

  • Lisa Potts

    We’re kindred spirits! I never leave the house without some kind of make-up on.

    I also hate the word fat and I realize the kids have heard me say it about myself. I’ve tried to eliminate it from my vocabulary but it’s tough. I try to teach them the old saying “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, and they follow that policy for the most part.

  • Lindsay N. Currie

    Aww, Becky. You’re cute. You know what, I think there’s a difference between being vain full of onesself and showing your children that it’s important to take care of yourself. And as for the issue with “fat”…that’s a hard one. One I occasionally will talk to with my kids from a health perspective. Should my kids ever call a friend fat or think anything negative about someone overweight? Good lord no. But, do I want them to be aware of different body types and strive to be the healthiest version of themselves possible? Yup. Great post!!

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