This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.
As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those relentless Trifecta editors. This week's word is crack.
My son called my daughter fat, and she ran down to tell me in sharp-eyed outrage.
I looked at my daughter, raised my eyebrows, and asked her a single question: “Are ya fat?”
Her 10 year old lips quivered and, for a moment, she looked like she’d say yes.
“No,” she replied, a sliver of insecurity gleaming through a crack in her angry demeanor.
“‘Fat’ is a fact-word,” I told her, “not an insult; it a fact. Either you are or you aren’t. If someone uses it as an insult, you can choose to be offended or reject it as a untrue. But even then ... let’s talk about this a bit.”
I called my son down and together we explored what it means to use a fact word as an insult. He’s six and the only one who’s recently attended public school, where I imagine he picked up this taunt.
“Guys, fat is a fact word,” I say. “Almost all of the people in the world have a degree of fat on their bodies. Some more than others. Some of them are fat.”
By now, my middle daughter has joined the conversation.
“Adam, when you turn a fact word like fat into an insult word, you are more likely to hurt me. I have more fat on my body than you or dad; I’m closer to actually being fat. Did you mean to insult me?”
He shook his head.
“Georgia, when you’re offended by a word like fat and you accept it as an insult you are supporting the idea that fat is something bad.”
The tension in the room eased. I pulled up the article I was saving, published on Huffington Post, showing side-by-side “Barbies”, one manufactured by Mattel and shaped by an artist to represent an average woman. As we clicked slowly through the photos, we talked about the pictures, Barbie, Lego, Archie comics, magazine images and how we hurt people by turning fact words into insults.