I put on a new pair of pants, yoga pants, something new for me. Grey-and-white striped, comfy and soft. I showed them off to Paul and he said "What's this, Sassy Pants?" and I said, "They were on clearance and I thought I'd try them!" Usually I wear men's pajama pants for evening/bedtime. He petted them and declared them comfy and soft and cute.
The children were surprised by the new pants and wanted to know what was going on, and I told them about it as I went into the other room to load the dishwasher. Rob, my eldest, my 11-year-old son, said in a jokey tone, "I'd have thought you wouldn't want to wear stripes! Because..." and his voice cut off abruptly. I went into the room and said, "I don't know what you were going to say, but it sounds like maybe it was something hurtful," and he said "That's why Daddy cut me off." Which of course was worse.
It wasn't even so much that I had my feelings hurt by what he was saying, though of course I did. And it wasn't that what he started to say was something that would diminish my enjoyment of my new comfy pants, though of course it did. It's that in 5th grade, at 11 years old, growing up in a household with a loving, good, plumpish mother who eats with enjoyment and doesn't go around saying negative things about her body, he has nevertheless learned from the culture that there are assumptions to be made about fat people. That it's okay to assume They should want to look different than they do, should want to minimize the fatness element of their appearance. That it's okay to suggest that there are certain things They shouldn't wear, since those types of clothing emphasize what is clearly a negative thing to be hidden. That it's okay to remark on that in a jokey tone. That it's a subject for discussion at all.
He doesn't mean it, he doesn't really mean it. But he needs to be taught that it is not okay to make jokes about other people's appearances, and that fatness isn't comical or scornable even if it's shown that way in cartoons. That fatness has in fact ZERO to do with what's in a person's heart or brain, and zero to do with a person's value as a person. I'm weary at the thought of being one person teaching him this in the face of a GIANT CULTURE relentlessly teaching him the opposite.
I commented that our cat Mouse is now SO SMALL. Her head is one third the size of her body. She is tiny. I showed in the air how her body used to be, and how it is now. And Paul said, "Yeah, but she's at her healthy weight now."
Let that remark hang in the air for a moment. Consider that the reason Mouse is now 6 pounds instead of 12 pounds is that she has thyroid disease and kidney disease and is getting elderly. She throws up much of her food. She takes medication twice a day to keep her from consuming her own body.
She is half her size not because of health but because of illness. When she was "fat," she was a healthy cat carrying some extra weight---and that's making the huge assumption that the words "extra weight" make sense as opposed to judgments. Now she is thin, because she is ill and elderly.
It's not just that he would assume that one single measure of health would be the most important one, and in fact the only one worth considering. It's not just that he would fail to think about other measures and how important they are. It's not just that his opinions about the cat likely reflect his opinions about fatness in general, and about his own wife's fatness in particular. It's that he's a well-above-average-intelligence person, the kind who studies college-level physics for fun, and he would nevertheless say such a TRULY, DEEPLY, PROFOUNDLY STUPID thing. And it's that he's not alone in such stupid thoughts, not even CLOSE to alone.
He doesn't mean it, he doesn't really mean he believes she is healthier now that when she was plump and ACTUALLY healthy, and he doesn't actually think stupid things about my body just because he thinks them glancingly and thoughtlessly about the cat's body. He's just not thinking it through. But he SHOULD think it through. As should all mentally-competent adults. The fat attaching to a body has no correlation to the brain and heart inside it; the words coming out of that body's mouth are another story.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...