I was walking home from school with my five year old daughter, in front of us was a couple of slightly older girls, not good at the guessing of age thing, but they were old enough to be walking home on their own but young enough to still be in primary school - kind of age, who were discussing a party. The first girl said to the second girl, “is Josie coming on Sunday” (name change) the first girl laughed, and quite sharply said “no, she’s fat!” the second girl nodded in agreement and the conversation carried on relating to the party. This small significant sentence hung around my head for the rest of the day. Not that it’s important but the girl they are referring to, is in no way fat by any means! That’s not my mum’s head opinion, she actually isn’t fat!!
But even if she was, it wouldn’t make me less shocked by the girls comment, it was said as if it was a perfectly normal judgment to make and as if the invitees were specifically chosen by their size, or more importantly, I’m guessing, their popularity.
My influential daughter heard every word of this and it infuriated me. I decided after allot of dwelling, to sit her down and talk about it and to explain empathy, at five years of age I can only hope that some of what I said went in and stays in.
The reason I’m telling you this, is because I then came across something significant online, totally by accident, by a very talented and respected lady, which I want to share with you, it’s brilliant and inspirational. As mothers to influential daughters, it’s our duty to be good role models…….
I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…
I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’
‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’
What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!
I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”
― J.K. Rowling