If your child called you fat, how would you react?
‘Fat’ is a word that has become synonymous with body shaming, so some parents might tell their child that it’s “not nice” to use that word and think no more of it.
But not Allison Kimmey.
Kimmey, who is a self-help author and mum-of-two, used an occasion when her daughter called her fat, as an opportunity to teach a very important lesson about body image.
“Each moment these topics come up I have to choose how I’m going to handle them,” Kimmey explained on Instagram on 11 June.
“Fat is not a bad word in our house.
“If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable.”
Kimmey explained to her daughter: “The truth is, I am not fat. No one is fat. It’s not something you can be.
“But I do have fat. We all have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy.”
She then asked her daughter if she had any fat, to which she replied: “Yes! I have some here on my tummy”.
At first Kimmey’s son denied that he had any fat, proclaiming: “I don’t have any fat, I’m the skinniest, I just have muscles.”
So Kimmey explained: “Actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts... Some people have a lot, and others don’t have very much. But that doesn’t mean that one person is better than the other.”
Kimmey added that since the word “fat” isn’t used as an insult in her family, her daughter must have picked it up from someone else and that is why all parents have to be prepared to tackle difficult conversations.
“Our children are fed ideas from every angle,” she wrote.
“You have to understand that that will happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a TV show or movie, overhearing someone at school- ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds.
“It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and consistent voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest.”
Kimmey has admitted that she doesn’t always instantly know how to answer her children’s questions about her body, but when they catch her off guard she turns to them for inspiration.
“When it comes to having conversations about my body with my children sometimes I don’t always know what to say,” she wrote on Instagram on 2 May.
“My daughter noticed my cellulite and when she gently asked me what it was, I had a mini panic attack, thinking to myself: what am I going to say that will rewrite a new belief system for her, since for nearly my entire life I had believed it was hideous and would have tried anything to get rid of it.
“From size 2 to 20, it’s one thing that has never left my side (or front or back 😂) So instead of deciding for her, I asked her, ‘well, what do you think it looks like?’”
Kimmy continued: “She thought for a minute as she looked out at the ocean and she traced the lines of my cellulite and said ‘I think they look like the waves, mama’.
“And I agreed with her, because that was the most beautiful way I had ever described my cellulite before... as ripples in the ocean of my body.”