The F Word

A dear friend shared this Elle article with me today, The F Word, written by one of my favorite authors: Jennifer Weiner.

I read it once, then read it again. While I’ve loved all her novels, her words in this short two page piece literally moved me to tears.

I was never called “fat” to my face (as a kid or otherwise) and was never teased about my weight (though I THOUGHT I was “fat”) so I didn’t personally endure what Jennifer has endured at different parts of her life.

But as someone who has struggled/still struggles with body image at times, I get what it’s like to not feel adequate or worthy; I get what it’s like to compare yourself to other girls/women. And I get what it’s like to think “if I get thin all my problems will go away.” [Newsflash: NOT TRUE!]

And now I’m the mom of a little girl … and so this piece really hit home. I have no clue how I’d handle the situation Jennifer was in when her daughter used the “F” word to describe another girl. I can understand how Jennifer would be prepared to tell her daughter she is beautiful and perfect as she is; expecting her to have weight issues like she has had. And I can understand why she’d be completely caught off guard when her child wasn’t the one being called names, but rather doing the name-calling.

And like Jennifer, though I say I want Maya to be smart and strong and wise and funny and pretty and loved and liked and respected and confident … there’s also a part of me that desperately prays weight won’t be an issue she will ever deal with. That, as Jennifer says, weight won’t be her cross to bear.

All I can do as a parent is lead by example: eating (relatively) healthily and exercising and making fitness fun for us as a family. The truth is, she will be who she will be — I’m just a guide. I aim to be a positive role model as a mom, but that doesn’t mean I’m without flaws and faults.

This piece reminded me of how important it will be to curb my words/actions in front of Maya. Kids hear things and repeat those things. And they can be mean — so very mean.

It’s my hope that if we ever saw/heard her talking about someone the way Jennifer’s daughter did, we would approach it the same way. I just hope not to have to cross that bridge for a looooong time … if ever.

I’d want her to know that her confidence shouldn’t come at the expense of cutting someone else down. Because words hurt. Words sting. And words like the F word … just aren’t forgotten.

How about you? How do you talk to your children about this kind of stuff? Would you approach it like Jennifer did?



One thought on “The F Word

  1. This is so hard. I’m on my husband about this all the time because he’ll make offhand comments like, “But that’s because I’m fat” or “a fat jerk” or whatever. I do NOT want Nate to use that work about himself OR about someone else, having been on the other side of it my whole life.

    And I like how she handled it. When I was growing up, the worst punishment ever was when my Dad would say he was disappointed in me for something I did. If you have a close relationship with your child, your disappointment should ring strong in them and help them understand the situation.

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