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HELP. How to broach the subject of 'fat'.

(11 Posts)
plantsitter Tue 12-May-15 14:18:30

I'm fat and I don't know how to deal with it with DDs (4&6). They already talk about people being fat or not and in fact it seems to be a bit of a swear-word at school.

They have said things to me like 'you have a fat tummy', compared me to other people's mums, and DD1 this morning said 'I don't want to hurt your feelings but you are quite F A T (spelt it out)'.

Of course my feelings ARE hurt by this kind of comment but I don't want to make the topic forbidden from conversation. Obviously fat is not a great thing to be. I don't want THEM to be fat either, but nor do I want to say 'if you eat too much chocolate you will be fat like me' because I don't want to slag myself off to them. I have said things like 'there are worse things to be than fat, other things are important too like being kind' etc and sometimes I have even said 'yes it's my lovely fat tummy' and patted it because I don't want them to think I hate myself (because that's bad for THEIR self-esteem, too). Does anybody have any advice?

As an afterthought, please don't make the advice be 'lose weight' because although I am trying to, I feel like I want to teach them not to be judgmental (also if it were just as easy as 'lose weight' I would've by now).

Thanks in advance.

plipplops Tue 12-May-15 16:10:18

I remember a conversation when DDs were maybe 4 and 5 about how calling someone fat (or ugly or anything else) would hurt their feelings and so wasn't a kind thing to do. Think maybe we had a Mr Men Mr Skinny book and he might call someone fat in it and they were quite shocked? Although I think we might just be quite lucky that they've never been exposed to it as a bad thing (I'm fairly slim, some of our friends are not). I remember DD1 seeing a larger lady in a skintight long dress and her saying the lady looked lovely and the dress was beautiful, so they almost seem blind to body shape.

Following with interest though. I think you can explain that it's not nice to comment on how people look as we can't always control how we look and everyone's different (i.e. might be in a wheelchair etc..). For instance it would be mean and hurtful to comment on someone's hair if they'd dyed it blue, since they probably like it like that? But fat is a tricky one as, since you say, it's not something you'd choose to be. Tricky and following with interest...

FannyFanakapan Tue 12-May-15 16:14:27

When my DD was young, we had a conversation about the wicked stepmother in snow white, who was very beautiful on the outside, but actually horrid on the inside. We were able to talk about a lot of people looking different, but being lovely on the inside, no matter how they looked on the outside.

My kids now tell me Im not fat, Im cuddly! (I am fat)

Tequilashotsfor1 Tue 12-May-15 16:21:56

Being fat isn't a bad thing but it's not good either.

I think you do have to try to get to a healthy place with your weight as there are links with over weight parents and over weight children. I would rather rather do somthing about my own weight rather than to encourage children to think it's ok to be fat because medically it isn't.

I'm speaking from a sports teachers view point here and I find it upsetting to watch young obese children struggle doing very little exercise.

Being fat is unhealthy and brings many serious health risks - yet people are not allowed to say it in case it offends confused

plantsitter Tue 12-May-15 18:10:03

Thanks for replies. Perhaps I will try to have a conversation about outside/inside at a time when we're not specifically talking about fat.

Tequila I do take your point and of course I know it's not healthy to be fat. However there are plenty of unhealthy activities that are not used as obscenities or insults in the playground. At one time I was living off 30 fags and 4 or 5 pints of beer a day and because I was thin people kept telling me I looked great, but I must have been way less healthy than I am now I don't smoke and don't drink much (and incidentally walk 4 miles a day).

I suppose what I'm really talking about is the appearance side of being fat. Often people trot out the 'unhealthy' line when really they mean 'unattractive' (not saying you mean that, as a sports teacher).

I don't want to be telling my girls I'm on a diet all the time. However I want to teach them good eating habits. I don't want to say 'don't be like me' because I want them to think I think I am great. It just feels like a minefield and I don't know how to deal with it - from here, where I am now, not where I might have been or might be in the future. In any case even if I were thin I don't think I would want my kids thinking fat was the worst thing there ever was.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 12-May-15 18:18:00

But someone who is overweight already knows it's unhealthy Tequila - they're overweight not stupid. So they don't need telling, repeatedly. Many people struggle with weight for all kinds of reasons. I don't look fat but my bmi is too high. I eat less than 2000 calories per day and run 25km per week. I am overweight because I have pcos which turns insulin to fat. Women with pcos struggle with weight in a way that most other women cannot comprehend. It's sometimes not just as simple as 'doing something' about your weight.

But aside from all of this it's not nice to raise a judgemental child either. When ds remarks about someone else's appearance (since this is the issue, not just weight) I explain that people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours. I explain that words can be hurtful and it's better to focus on qualities that might be hidden.

Rox19 Tue 12-May-15 18:21:45

I am overweight too as the result of pregnancy and underactive thyroid.
Im5ft5 and just under13st. (Weirdly I don't look that big as have 28inch waist).

My 2 aged 3&5 have started with the fat insults too.

I was honest with them. Said there is something wrong with my neck. So it is taking me longer for healthy food to make me a normal size again.

I would be honest with yours. Say I ate too many of the wrong foods(if this is the genuine reason). But now I am eating better and in a while,& will be a normal size again.

Children can and will still love you while you are in 'transition' and you're teaching them that you can control your weight, and that this does take sometime. But id also explain that sometimes other people don't want to be a smaller size so they stay bigger.

Obv this is as long as you 100% are going to slim!

I think it's good for children to know their parents aren't perfect. IMO explaining why you're overweight is the same as apologising for shouting or being a rush, whatever.

Good luck x

squizita Tue 12-May-15 19:11:29

Wise words Rox

spancake Tue 12-May-15 19:33:23

Following with interest as I'm going through the exact same issue with my nearly 4 year old boy at the moment. A few sneaky little fat insults have snuck in here and there after a friend of his noticed and questioned
why I was 'so fat' - I replied that I had eaten too many sweeties. Wondering now if that the right way to go, but it was the truth (I'm currently finishing a course of CBT for compulsive eating disorder. I wouldn't say I'm in recovery at the moment either. I'm
5'5 and nearly 22st a generous size22 and well aware of the health implications this holds. I want to bring up a tolerant and respectful young man and also don't want him to pick up on my issues with food and body image. Probably some different issues to cover with boys rather than girls?

plantsitter Tue 12-May-15 21:06:41

'qualities that might be hidden' - I like that LittleLion. I need to think about an approach.

bluesandals12345 Tue 12-May-15 22:02:52

I think at a young age the word fat doesn't always mean fat. sometimes it's just an insult for the sake of it like smelly. I think one of my favourite things to call people when I was little was a smelly fat poo. The people who I called that were neither fat, smelly or indeed a poo.
Don't make weight a massive deal, if you are losing weight try not to talk about it.
make sure healthy food and exercise are just part and parcel of life.
if your kids say someone is fat say I hadn't noticed she is so nice. that sort of thing

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