Kids can be wonderful, enchanting little humans. They are simple, to the point and honest. I love that. I lived in Mexico and taught a class of 16 three and four year olds English. They were wonderful and horrible. If I looked and smelled nice, they would tell me. If my hair was even slightly off or my singing was bad they would also tell me. Here is delightful exchange with my favorite student, a little boy named Santiago, about my body.
One morning we were lining up to go back to their big classroom, and as it turns out, little kids are short. They all hit about crotch/butt height, at least on me they did. As they were lining up, Santi was the first in line. He patted my tummy absentmindedly and I was trying to get all 16 of these kids to quiet down and didn’t think much of it. Suddenly, the patting turned urgent.
“Miss. Miss. MISS! MISS!” Santi said, trying to get my attention.
“Yes, Santi, yes. Let’s use our indoor voice. What’s up buddy?”
“Ok” he whispered at me, taking things to extremes, as children tend to do, then quickly forgot and used his regular (loud) volume. “Miss. You have a big belly!”
Oh Lord. What every woman who has fallen for the idea that their body is not “Bikini Ready” (whatever the hell “bikini ready” means, and I don’t care what it means) dreads hearing. I have a big belly. But it’s true. I always have. I’m fat. Before you start in on your “you’re not fat” soap box, please don’t. Don’t try to save me from me; I’m not harming myself by describing myself with a word that is accurate. I haven’t called myself stupid, worthless, unlovable, or any other words that ARE hurtful and horrible. I’ve just called myself fat. What is the difference between “long, flowing, curly, black hair” (which I have) and “1.65 metres and fat” (which I am)? NOTHING EXCEPT SOMEONE DEEMED FAT BAD. It wasn’t me. If I deemed fatness as bad (I did, I used to), it was because I was following what I was taught. I’m better now though and I’m un-teaching and re-teaching myself so many things.
Back to my mini homie and honesty extraordinaire, Santi. He dropped his truth bomb upon me with no malice in his little heart, no tea, no shade. His was just an observation, from seeing it up close and personal. Needless to say I was shocked and I felt my heart drop. I was embarrassed. It could have become one of those “Skinny AH HA!” moments. You know- where someone says something to someone that is about their fatness or someone sees a photo of what they look like and they freak out and join Weight Watchers, lose a ton of weight and become a poster child for health or some shit like that.
Yeeeeeah, no. I only answered him with the same simplicity he had spoken to me- “Yup, I do have a big belly.” I patted it as well. No need to even worry about ego or vanity, because the kids were ready to revolt, and I had to control them. What do I care if a little kid called me- in simple terms- fat? It didn’t matter anyway because as fast as he told me I had a big belly he hugged me tight (smashing his little face into said belly) he said “MISS! I love you I love you I love you!” and he said it in the way that a little kid says he loves Spiderman or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in a loud voice, gritting their teeth so as to sound super cool and then he made ninja moves when he was done hugging me. I know he was totally telling the truth.
But that’s the point! Not ninja moves, but that fat, or BEING fat isn’t the worst thing to be, it’s just an adjective, just a descriptive word. Just as he is observing and detailing the world around him visually, he is absorbing it emotionally as well. He could give a rip about the size of my behind (big) but knew and recognized in the same breath that he called me *gasp* FAT! that he loved me.
He loved me because I was someone who would sing with them, act silly, sit on the floor with them and play games. I was a source of good energy to them, I affirmed and reaffirmed their truths- they were smart, they were good learners, they were good children and even at their worst behavior, I loved them.
The size of my jeans would never come up as important, and trust I was important to these kids. When I quit teaching the class they would ask for me months afterwards.
I could spare a few pounds but if I go to the gym (I do!) it’s to be healthy and avoid things like diabetes and high blood pressure, not because I want a thigh gap. My thighs are fine, just the way they are, thank you very much.
I’m fat. Get over it, I am. 🙂