This was a hard week being a mom to daughters.
A boy in my daughter’s Grade 1 class called her fat and that she had a big tummy.
I will never forget the sadness in her eyes and heart break in her voice when she told me after school that day. I just held her as tears flowed down her beautiful face. I waited until she was ready to talk about it.
We talked about: What happened; What it meant to be ‘fat’ ; Why would that boy say those words; What does she think about herself; What is means to have self – love; Speaking to others with kindness; Not allowing ANYONE to speak to us in a way that belittles who we are; It was a powerful talk and not only was I speaking to my 7 year old, but also to my 5 year olds because one day they might be in the same situation (which makes me feel so sad that this language and saying hurtful words starts at a young age). I also thanked Avery for coming to tell me what that boy said at school. This is SO important to have an open communication with your children, no matter what the situation is.
Fast forward a few days and I bought Avery new clothes to try on at home (because taking my daughter shopping is NO fun for anyone). She tried on a shirt and automatically looked down at her stomach and said, ” Mom, what if the boy in my class calls me fat in this shirt. ” Let the water works begin all over again. I looked in her eyes and told her that she was amazing and not to let what others say influence who she was. We also talked about how she has a voice and she needs to use that voice when she is hurt, frustrated, happy or any other emotion that she is feeling. I asked her to give herself compliments, and I have her compliments and words of encouragement and we wrote them down and put them in her room. So when she needs a confidence booster, she can look at the list and remind herself how awesome and amazing she really is.
” My story matters because I matter. I am absolutely enough” Brene Brown
So what was this mama bear going to do about it?
I talked to her teacher. I voiced my concerns about how words relating to body image have an huge impact in a women’s life … and it starts at a young age. She absolutely agreed. She apologized for what happened in her classroom and her heart felt broken like mine. She called the boy’s mother after I talked to her (which she didn’t have to …. since school was over, but she did). The teacher then called me after 4 pm that day and left a message on my voicemail letting me know that she talked to his mom and told me how this was going to be addressed in her classroom the next day through religious studies and how we need to use our kind words when speaking to others. ** So to Avery’s teacher … thank you. Thank you for caring, and taking time at the end of school to deal with this situation. **
The boy’s mother approached me the next day and apologized. She said that her son was just joking and didn’t mean anything by it. I could have just said that was ok and moved on, but I didn’t. I informed her that words like fat, ugly, stupid, etc make an impact on a child’s brain at a young age which will influence what they think of themselves not only now, but when they are older. So this was not a joke to me or to my daughter. She looked at me with surprise. I guess she just assumed that by apologizing on behalf of her son was enough. Not to me it wasn’t. The boy showed up at school the next day with an apology letter to Avery and said sorry to her for his behaviour. THIS RIGHT HERE is what made my daughter feel better. Not the words that her mother was telling her (well that helped to) but she needed the apology from the person who hurt her feelings in the first place.
As a trainer for 15 years, I know what those hurtful words do to our self – esteem and how we view ourselves. I work with these women often (and I have gone through it myself). Not once have I used the word fat in my household and even in my lowest moments postpartum, I darn well made sure that I was careful of the words I was using about my body: strong, healthy, amazing, beautiful. My daughters see me train my clients every day and when they talk about what their mom does, not once have they said, “Mom helps women lose weight”. They say “Mom helps people to be healthy and strong”. Let’s be healthy role models for our children … it starts at home!
Dear parents and caregivers,
Be aware of the words and phrases you are using around your children. Be aware of the shows they are watching, because stupid, fat, ugly, etc are all common words and while you might not think anything of them, kids do. Also talk to your children … like really talk to them to see what’s going on in their day. Having an open relationship allows your kids to come and tell you anything without judgement.
My name is Rachelle and I am the owner and founder of Momentum Health & Wellness . I am devoted to inspire and promote health and wellness to individuals and families. I want to create a community where people feel motivated to share their wellness journey and to encourage one another to be positive role models in their home, at work and in the community. I offer prenatal fitness classes, postnatal fitness classes, fitcamp, personal training, injury rehabilitation, and corporate wellness in Edmonton!
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