There's no shame in the word fat, only in the verb you use with it.
Do you know the difference between saying someone is fat versus someone has fat? Allison Kimmey's kids do, and you should, too.
In a recent Instagram post, Kimmey shared a conversation she had with her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son after her daughter had lashed out with "Mama is fat" when upset that it was time to get out of the pool. Instead of being angry with her, Kimmey used it as an opportunity to chat with both of her children about the truth about fat.
"The truth is, I am not fat," she said. "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."
My daughter called me fat today. She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat. I told her to meet me upstairs so we could chat. Me: "what did you say about me?" Her: "I said you were fat, mama, im sorry" Me: "let's talk about it. 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?" Her: "yes! I have some here on my tummy" Me: "that's right! So do I and so does your brother!" Her brother: "I don't have any fat, I'm the skinniest, I just have muscles" Me: "actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts." Her brother: " oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me" Me: "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? Both: "yes, mama" Me: "so can you repeat what I said" Them: "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" Me: "exactly right!" Them: "can we go back to the pool now?" Me: no __________________ Each moment these topics come up i have to choose how I'm going to handle them. 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. Since we don't call people fat as an insult in my household, I have to assume she internalized this idea from somewhere or someone else. Our children are fed ideas from every angle, you have to understand that that WILL happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a tv show or movie, overhearing someone at school- ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds. 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. Give me a if this resonated w u! Just do you! Xoxo Allie
Pretty eloquently said, right? You might be wondering how Kimmey could so quickly come up with such a profound response — turns out this mama is on a mission to inspire moms and dads to have more body positive conversations with their children, and even created the non-profit organization GirlPhoria to help teen girls learn to love themselves.
"Fat is not a bad word in our house," Kimmey explained in her Instagram caption. "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."
There are also similar movements in reclaiming the word "fat" as fact, instead of something that should carry shame. Many body positive activists do self-identify as fat but this is a label the've chosen for themselves—entirely different than being called fat by someone else. Still, both methods lead to the same conclusion: No one should be name-called and shamed about their body. (Related: Talking to Kids About Body Image)
Kimmey continued the "is fat" vs. "has fat" convo with her kids by talking about how how every person on earth has fat — even them — but people just have different amounts.
"Some people have a lot, and others don't have very much," she told them. "But that doesn't mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand?" Both said "yes, mama" and then she had them repeat what she had just said: "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," they said.
Well done, kids!
Can you guess what they said next?
"Can we go back to the pool now?"