Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Size Acceptance

In most parts of the US, racism, sexism, and even homophobia are uncool to express. While there are still unenlightened people on these issues (we all know at least one, don't we?), most folks know that they are likely to be called out on these kind of isms when they surface. (The "it was just a joke" defense is so tiresome. To be a joke, it has to be funny, people! Satire is funny- poking fun at power is funny. Making others feel crappy is not.)

One of the few isms that is still OK in our culture is fat phobia and/or looks-ism. Our culture is obsessed with being thin, looking a certain way, and enforcing that standard to the detriment of all. People who do not fit that norm or choose not to are outcasts and deemed unattractive.

I do not want my son indoctrinated into those values. I know that he will be exposed to it eventually (we all live in this culture after all), but with limited television (with no commercials!) and exposure to all kinds of people (who are all attractive, regardless of size or other surface factors in my opinion) in person and through media I am trying to counter its poisonous effects as long as possible.

And if you think this is all about health, let me assure you- it's more than that. It is a civil rights issue. Fat people are less likely to get jobs, are paid less, and are abused more. They are taught to hate the way that they look and the world tells them that they are not sexy or worthy of love. This is not the world that I want my son to inherit, but there you have it. So I am educating him so that he can help change it, regardless of his size or appearance.

Folks who think thinner is healthier than fat and that everyone can fall within a societal "ideal" weight should read about health at every size (which the surgeon general advocates now, instead of the long-held, false line of "lose weight to be healthy", by the way),
The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health... Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.- from the Health at Every Size website.
For those of you new to the size acceptance movement or health at every size, here are some resources. No Lose is a queer fat positive organization that hosts a conference almost every year.  The Fat Nutritionist is a great resource. So is the International Size Acceptance Organization. So is National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

Available here. Link for informational purposes,
I am not/was not paid for this recommendation.
So how do I broach this idea with a toddler? Well, we are just starting with abstract ideas and reading, but I have found an awesome book that Rowan just loves! It's a Sandra Boynton book (she's a famous cartoonist famous for her cute animal drawings) called The Belly Button Book.

Along with being a cute rhyming board book, it also shows hippos not covering up and being ashamed of their big bellies, but instead wearing clothes too small on purpose, to show it off!

This book is a breath of fresh air and Rowan absolutely loves this book. He went through a phase of showing everyone his "bee bo" (as the book calls belly buttons) and also lifting up everyone's shirts to see their navels. 

My edition also came with an audio CD with a belly button song, which is pretty cute as well- and Rowan likes to dance to this song and asks for it, too! 

How do you feel about society's view of "people of size"? What messages are you sending to your kids (be they intentional or unintentional) on body acceptance, accepting others as they are, and self love?


  1. the it *I have a button but it's not from a shirt, I have a button but it's not from a skirt...*
    I love that song. Our kids sang it one year at Mother's Tea!

  2. @Infinite Possibilities: No, but that sounds like a cute one! It goes, "Belly belly button you're oh so fine, ooh, belly button I'm so happy you're mine!"


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