Let me start by saying this: Reasonably, I know that I am not fat.
Actually, I am far from fat. But I have a lot of body hangups, as do most women I know. I often forget that I had a baby, and even though I slip into my size 0 pants every day, I often feel like I'm roughly the size of a rhinoceros. I try hard not to let the soft skin on my belly or the stretch marks that paint my stomach, hips and thighs get to me but every now and again it breaks me down and I stand in the mirror exclaiming words that I know aren't true, but perfectly describe how I feel:
I'm so fat today.
I promised Red I'd never ask him if I look fat - mostly because I'm secretly terrified he might say yes, but also because I think it would drive him crazy if he had to deal with my constant body hangups. More often than not, I keep the comments to myself - mentally berating myself for my own perceived flaws - but every now and again, I've let it slip. Other than the fact that I'm beating myself up, it's never occurred to me that saying those words could have a profound impact on anyone.
Until I heard my beautiful, healthy, rambunctious three-year-old say "Mommy, am I fat?"
As heart-breaking as it is for me to look at beautiful men and women beat themselves up over the ridiculous idea of beauty that our society has created, it doesn't shine a light to the fact that my three-year-old could have possibly felt that he should ask that question.
It's the result of every time I've asked my mother, "Do I look fat in these jeans?"
It's the result of every time I've explained that I'm working out because "Mommy's fat".
It's the result of every time I've stood in the mirror and said "I'm fat" to myself, when I didn't think he was paying attention.
And it's not OK.
I've become a part of the monster that I complain about. The monster that lets our children grow up feeling insecure about their bodies, highlights flaws and airbrushes over imperfections to create an idea of beauty that is impossible, unattainable and completely unnatural. It needs to stop.
Am I going to be able to completely eradicate my body hang-ups overnight? No. I'm not. It's going to take work, and I may never get over them. I may never get rid of that soft layer of post-baby fat that covers my belly. I'll wear my stretchmarks until the day I die.
But I will be more conscious of what I say in front of those impressionable little ears, and that begins now.