Mommy, am I fat?

I’ve got a lot of experience with body talk.

Growing up with so many sisters Body Talk was everywhere. I think I spent the first 27 years of my life hating my body. It was just before Rex came along that I had this big, fabulous, epiphanepic moment where I figured out something important: my tummy fat isn’t a bad thing (although I’m happily looking forward to the day when the IRS sends me a little post c-section tucking bonus).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m vain all over and constantly trying to keep myself into a single digit size in the denim section. My romantic relationship with Sugar is comparable to that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. We’re kind of like this, minus the excellent cleavage.

Don’t you love the look on Sugar’s face? Constantly Mocking me?

But the biggest thing I took from that experience so many years before I had a daughter was just how powerful our personal beliefs are. Whether we want them to or not, they transfer to our children, and if you’re a mother your ideas, however secretive you are about them, are especially sticky where your daughters are concerned.

So, I decided six years ago to really love my body. Yes, I love it better when it’s skinnier, but I never look in a mirror and hate myself even in my head. I might have some chubby love going on around the waistline, but I’ve also got four fabulous kids to show for it. I despise the three letter F word and do my best to keep it out of my mouth (I also feel this way about double whoppers from Burger King but fail at least once a year).

Two nights ago I turned on Armed Forces Network for the first time since living in Germany. It was bedtime and my kids were brushing their teeth (okay, Harrison was) when I happened across “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition.” I love these shows. They’re as good as a Weight Watcher’s meeting or watching Richard Simmons cheerlead. Harrison loves them and begged to join me. Before long I had Harry on one side and little miss “I’m Not Sleepy” on the other.

“Mommy,” June said after a moment of watching the 600+ pound contestant weigh in. “What’s all that stuff on him?”

“Stuff?” I asked, totally confused.

“Yeah, why’s he big like that?”

Huh. My four-year-old daughter is totally clueless about fat in general. That kind of rocks.

“Well,” I said carefully, “That’s fat. He needs to lose some weight so his heart won’t have to work so hard.”

She looked at the television for a moment then pulled up her shirt and poked her belly. “Is this fat?” she asked.

And there I was, at one of the most momentous cross roads in my daughter’s life. All those years that I despised my stomach. It was my “problem area,” the place that no amount of sit ups or plank poses could our would cure. I’m barely recovering from two decades of stomach loathing and my daughter springs this on me. What to do?

So, I pulled up my shirt and poked my frighteningly white and slightly blubbery tummy. “Sure,” I said, “See? It looks just like mine!” She reached over and poked my tummy and I poked hers and we laughed. “A little fat is healthy,” I told her.  “It’s important that we eat lots of good, fresh food and drink lots of water (and Diet Coke) and play outside as much as possible so we can stay healthy.”

“Yeah,” she said. “We’re healthy girls, huh Mom?”

Of all the gifts I’ll ever give her, I hope I can endow her with the ability to love her body. I need to try a little harder and remember to love mine.


  1. Awww, that is so cute! I miss little June Bug. I got your card yesterday. You guys are adorable. Love you!

  2. The Divine Miss M says:

    I love this post. Seriously love it. My mother had a terrible habit of instilling her own body obsessions on to me and I think that there is nothing worse. Now, at almost 30, I am starting to embrace my body warts and all! Thank you for this Annie 🙂

  3. That’s awesome, Annie. Good job, momma bear.

  4. Fat, fatter or fattest in the land, we’ve got bodies and the devil doesn’t!!! WOO HOO! Makes me want to dance around eating chocolate and stuff my face with eclairs, strusel and marzipan! Wanna join me?

  5. Ahhhh, what a beautiful post. I have spent many years being glad I don’t have a daughter because of all the body issue pain I would have passed on. Boys are not immune but girls, shudder. Love the way your handled it.

  6. I love the way you handled her question. Brilliant parenting! I love it.

  7. Oh, such a good momming moment. That was just the right thing to say, and just the right conversation to have. Good job. This is one I fight every single day, and with teenage girls (and one almost-teen girl) in the house, it’s a deadly minefield. I hope I can work up to the graceful way you handled it.