I try and think back on when the word “fat” and its negative social stigma first registered. Was it in fifth grade when all of the kids started to break up into cliques? Was it when a family member used it to describe a passerby, friend, or loved one? I look back and begin to realize that the word “fat” never really had an exact beginning for me or probably for anyone else. Ingrained into our lives, words like “fat” or “ugly” or “stupid” become memorable and horrifyingly alive only when used against us or someone we love. Sometimes, the bully is someone we know. Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy.
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor works hard to stop this vicious cycle every day. In her Babble blog post “Please Don’t Talk About Your Weight In Front of My Daughters,” Wilder-Taylor recounts the day her daughter came home from day camp with a new-found fear of soda. The culprit? A coach who had told the kids “drinking soda will give you a big tummy and that a big tummy is bad.” Uh, harsh much?
Horrified, the NickMom television host and mommy blogger realized her vow to never speak negatively of her own body in front of her children couldn’t escape outside influence. And it’s true. After Good Morning America featured Wilder-Taylor and her kids in a segment highlighting her ban on the “f-word,” parenting expert Dr. Karyn Gordon explained that hoping for a universal upholding of the no-no “fat talk” rule was unrealistic.
According to Dr. Gordon, however, the key to successful self-confidence building starts with moms like Wilder-Taylor, who act as their children’s biggest influence. In the end, it’s not just the word “fat” that induces years of negative body images. In fact, some women reclaim the word and give it new meaning—newly constructed definitions representing beauty, self-acceptance, and unapologetic pride.
Positive body influence starts with attitude, behavior, and love. For me, Wilder-Taylor’s proud booty sashaying, carefree dancing, and self-love lessons are the perfect foundation for her growing girls.
It’s up to the grown-ups on this one, and it has to be a responsibility every one of them is willing to take. From the looks of Wilder-Taylor’s insanely adorable dance parties with her beautiful daughters, healthy body talk looks a hell of a lot more fun than self-deprecation.
Photo via The New York Times