What is fat?

  • What is Fat? Is it a bad word?
  • We must focus our energy on things that are in our control
  • My complicated relationship with food reminded me of her struggle with alcohol

After witnessing her daughter’s negative reaction to a camp counselor telling her 5 year old she’d get fat by drinking soda, Stefanie of Encino, California, banned the word fat from being used in her home. Then she wrote a short blog post about it.

Stefanie’s post prompted a debate. Then ABC News picked up the story.

What is fat? Is it a bad word? Should it be banned?

Parenting expert Dr. Karyn Gordon was asked to give her take on making the home a safe zone, free of the word fat.

Rather than focusing on everyone out of your control, Dr. Gordon suggested that moms should focus on the things that are in their control, like how they talk about their own bodies.

The number one source of influence for a child in terms of their own body image is actually the parent. How the mother perceives her own body.
– Dr. Karyn Gordon

This is such an empowering answer!

Whether it’s our weight or anything else in our lives, it’s important we focus our time and energy on things that are in our control.

Focus on what’s in your control

Spending energy on anything else simply rounds up negative emotions and feelings of helplessness. These feelings get in the way of us taking the drivers seat in our lives and doing what we can do.

What is fat?There will always be people who try to put us down and hold us back. It’s up to us to stop their actions from affecting our own.

The first time I came across this idea was in the movie When a Man Loves a Woman, when Alice (Meg Ryan) is speaking at an AAA Meeting, 184 days after hitting rock bottom.

I’d watched this movie with a friend. After she went home I returned to our basement. Kneeling in front of the VCR I used my left fingers to press play and pause while scribbling down Alice’s speech, a couple words at a time, with my right hand. Then I rewrote it into my Nothing Book; a blank book I filled with poems, stories and sayings that motivated me.

Alice’s preoccupation with alcohol was a familiar feeling

My complicated relationship with food reminded me of Alice’s struggle with alcohol. When I watched When a Man Loves a Woman I’d just started dieting. And I didn’t understand how to reach a healthy weight. From everything I’d read, I thought the only way to trim down was to eat as little as possible and exercise as much as possible. The result? I was hungry all the time (and I gained more weight). So I thought about food all the time. I was sure I was addicted to food. I imagined this feeling of being preoccupied by something I (thought I) shouldn’t have, must be how an alcoholic feels.

At the time all my misconceptions around how to reach a healthy weight were causing me to spiral down a hole I didn’t know how to get out of. The harder I tried the worse things became.

In her AAA speech, Alice says:

When he tried to help he made me feel small and worthless. But nobody makes us feel that way. We do that for ourselves.

And it’s true. No one can make you feel any way unless you let them.

Here’s Alice’s speech. This is the best video I could find. Her voice isn’t supposed to sound like Minnie Mouse. Please ignore! The ideas she shares are too important. Alternatively you can read Alice’s speech by clicking on the previous picture to expand the scanned-in page of my Nothing Book.

How can we protect our children and ourselves?

Parenting is all about preparing children for life beyond their backyard.

Creating an unrealistic environment in your home only makes it more difficult for young people to deal with the real world once they enter it.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption they liken the ability to focus on what you have control over, to an invisible jacket. In other words, when you base self-respect on the choices you make, rather than spending your energy trying to control the actions and reactions of others, you can develop a protective layer between yourself and the world.

May we all teach young people how to create an invisible jacket.

So what is fat? Well, we know it’s something that can’t hurt us or the ones we love, unless we let it.



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From your perspective, what is fat? Is it a bad word? Should the word fat be banned? Do you have similar rules in your home? What is fat to you?