This morning in the grocery store I heard a little voice say, “Daddy, there’s a fat lady.” I turned around and saw a cute little girl, about 3 or 4 years old, shopping with her father, who was looking mortified. I said, “Yes, I’m a fat lady” and went back to putting my stuff on the register belt. I admit that I was cranky but not overly preoccupied with the exchange.
On the way out to the car, the same father and daughter were pulling out of their space as I got closer. He rolled down the window (okay, he pushed a button and it went down magically) and said that his daughter wanted to apologize to me, which she did. Made me wonder about the conversation they had after our in-store exchange.
I looked in and told her, “Thanks, sweetie. People come in all different shapes and sizes. You are a short size and I am a round size.” She looked thoughtful and then smiled. I felt a lot better going back to my car.
Kids notice sizes and shapes and differences. At that young age, they usually don’t see or speak in a judging way. She saw a fat lady and told her dad. Her dad knew the emotional charge that went with those words and I was pleased that he didn’t just let it go. (We know it was his idea that she apologize to me, not hers.) I hope my response gave them both a different perspective.
Fat ladies really are a different shape and size. We’re not better or worse, weird or undisciplined, prettier or uglier. We’re just rounder. Looking at myself with the objectivity of a 3 year old lets me say that yes, I’m the fat lady, without the pain that comes with it when I say it about myself.