After Kimmey’s 4-year-old called her fat, she took the opportunity to educate her
The word “fat” is usually lobbed as a cruel insult, but one mom is trying to change that mindset by sharing a conversation she had with her kids after one of them called her fat.
It was while playing in the pool that Allison Kimmey had the opportunity to educate her kids and thousands of people on the internet about why the word “fat” shouldn’t be viewed as an insult. Her Instagram post has over 32,000 likes, so the message is clearly resonating.
Kimmey writes, “My daughter called me fat today.”
The mom explains that it was after telling the kids to get out of the pool that her frustrated 4-year-old daughter Cambelle told her 6-year-old brother Graham that “mama is fat.”
Kimmey felt the moment warranted a serious conversation with both kids. After confirming what her daughter said, Cambelle immediately apologized, but that wasn’t what Kimmey was after. “Let’s talk about it,” she says. “The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It’s not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?”
Cambelle points out that she has fat on her tummy and Graham insists he only has muscles because he’s “the skinniest,” and Kimmey is swift to educate him. “Actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts.”
That registers with Graham. “Oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me.” Kimmey explains, “Yes, that’s true. Some people have a lot, and others don’t have very much. But that doesn’t mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand?”
They do, and she asks them to repeat the lesson they just learned. “Yes! I shouldn’t say someone is fat because you can’t be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it’s okay to have different fat.”
Then, because they’re four and six, the kids ask if they can go back in the pool.
Kimmey elaborates on her reasoning for handling the situation the way she did. “Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable.”
She tells Babble that she enjoys sharing conversations like these on her social media pages in an effort to end the stigma around words like “fat.” “We don’t have to keep doing something just because it’s what’s always been done before, especially if it isn’t right. And in my opinion, demonizing the word fat and shaming anyone that has it is not something I’m willing to have exist in my home.”
Kimmey’s post makes me cringe remembering the way I’ve navigated the few times my kids have said “fat” in the way her daughter did. I’ve always quickly admonished them, telling them to “never call someone fat again.” We may think we’re doing the right thing by treating the word “fat” as an insult, but Kimmey’s absolutely correct; by teaching our kids that calling someone “fat” is wrong, we’re teaching them that having fat is wrong. Which, obviously, isn’t right.
Since the word isn’t used as an insult at her house, Kimmey is left to assume her daughter got the idea somewhere else. She acknowledges that we can’t really control what our kids hear and absorb at a friend’s house, at school, on TV or out in the world.
But we can control how we respond to it and the way we talk about body positivity. “It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest,” she writes.
Kimmey is definitely doing her part to teach not just her kids, but other parents as well.
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