July 18, 2013

Trifecta Week Eighty Six - Fat is a Fact Word


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.

****************

14 comments:

  1. Impressive response to the situation. Coalescing the prompt and the event- equally impressive. Your kids are lucky to have you, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks LaTonya. I really enjoyed the conversation with them, as I do whenever I find the logical solution to a struggle. Luckily this word is not a difficult one to wind into the story, especially because she really had that mix of looks.

      Delete
  2. This is super-mom worthy. I have to remember your teachings, sensei, when dealing with my niece and nephew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Draug. Nieces and nephews are so awesome to practice on! My oldest one has a couple of kids of his own -- one is bigger than my last-born, and my sister is only 6 years older than I!

      I'm glad you liked it, I was pretty pleased with it too and really wanted to share it. Gah I love logic!!! Probably too much.

      But I suck at metaphors ... especially at "getting them" in poetry. I'm all, like, huh?!

      Delete
  3. My goodness, that diffused the situation and dealt respectfully with each child. Well done! A very thoughtful post :)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Gotta love that logic in parenting eh? I was dying to write this one down.

      Delete
  4. Wow, it's amazing to know your kids are so understanding and they actually listen to you ... If only my sister was this sensible and would try to understand the difference when our Mom explained us that ! :) Very

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First thing I did after having kids (well, and changing quite a few nappies) was to take a parenting course. Lucky for me, I came across that one that was based in logic and things making sense. It wasn't something I had as a kid so I probably crave it more than the average person.

      Thanks for the comment.

      And for the record, I have no idea how much of it will stick, but my plan is to keep nagging till it does. =)

      Delete
  5. I like how you have used the situation to make your kids think about words they hear, and sometimes use, every day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is sort of neat to look at things in less emotional ways, particularly the words that can hurt us so badly.

      And can I say? They're driving me crazy this morning. Aahhhhhh!

      Delete
  6. How did you DO THAT?!! Wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. As a former eating disordered person who didn't have the cloud of worrying very much about being fat (reverse body dysmorphia, I saw myself as smaller than I actually was) I maybe don't have as much tied up in the whole fatness thing. Oh, and I read this great book when I was about 22 or so: Fat is a Feminist Issue, by Suzie Orbach, which really diffused the word.

      But mostly it just came to me when I saw her sensitive little face.

      I'm glad to see you here, it was your email that pushed me.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Sian! It was fun.

      But my sister tells me that I needed to also find out what my son was trying to accomplish when he used the word incorrectly. Apparently the next step is to help him achieve his goals.

      Sigh. Always a curve. Always a curve. =)

      Delete