Fat as Punchline and Punishment

Children are still learning about being kind and polite. Even as an adult, I still occasionally fail on the mark of not putting my foot in my mouth. But I think we can all agree:

  1. Children are often tactless.
  2. This tactlessness is very rarely out of cruelty.
  3. Parents, typically, make attempts to correct this tactlessness.

Now, let’s bring this back to weight. I have an extremely thin acquaintance on Facebook, who is extremely pregnant at 38 weeks. She posted on her Facebook wall that while out and about the other day, a little girl out pointed at her and said, “She’s fat!” Enter the rallies of somewhere between “How rude!” and “Kid’s don’t mean that, they’re just learning.” Now, I don’t know how the father handled the situation, so this post? Not about tactless kids. This post is about this comment:

well when she gets older chances are she will be triple your size because you are all belly and tiny. So jokes on her

I have no fucking words. I actually stared at it on Facebook, debated — do I say anything about how much more tactless and rude that comment is? The woman who wrote it is an adult, and a mother herself if I recall — the name is familiar, but she’s not someone I’m friends with. (I get the impression we wouldn’t get along.)

This comment, and comments like this, are what’s wrong the idea of fat in our culture.

Fat is a great punchline — I mean, how often are the fat people in media the comedic relief, two dimensional?1 Won’t it be hilarious in 10 years if that girl is struggling with her self-esteem and image? If her peers are treating her like less a person because of her looks? Won’t we all have such a laugh?

Fat is a punishment – because when she’s triple the OP’s size2 she will be worth less than the tiny women of the world. We will be able to write her off, because look at her. She got fat.

25 weeks

I’m not saying that the OP didn’t have the right to have her feelings hurt — at 38 weeks pregnant she has the right to feel however she wants. And it’s not fun to be called fat when you’re pregnant; my younger brother looked at me at 27 weeks and went, “You don’t look pregnant, you’re just fat.” If this has never happened to you, let me say: it makes your pregnancy feel so invalidated in that little moment.

But seriously. Not only is fat not the scariest thing that’s going to happen to us, but I’d rather be not pregnant and called fat by a hundred little girls who don’t understand why it’s not okay, than see one comment like that from an adult who ought to know better.


1. Typically, their wants and needs are boiled down to “food,” unless we’re talking about how badly they want to be thin.
2. Me. If I am not “triple” the OP’s size, whatever the hell that size is supposed to mean, I am damned close.

  • http://himynameisjack.blogspot.com Emily

    I totally agree with you! That comment makes me cringe.

    Last summer my family was at the beach and my then 2 year old was eyeing a family where the teenage son was in a wheelchair (a really awesome beach-friendly wheelchair). I asked him if he though the boy’s chair was cool. He said “Yeah!” So I said “Lets go say hello, you can make a new friend and tell him you think he has a cool chair.”

    Everyone is different and I really hope I can teach my kids to see the beauty in that, not the punchline.

    • http://www.domesticchaos.com Ashley

      That’s a lovely story! <3 I admit that I have to try really hard not to stare at people in public — not ot of any judgment, but because I'm curious and I like to think if I stare long enough I'll understand.

  • Emily

    I totally agree with you! That comment makes me cringe. Last summer my family was at the beach and my then 2 year old was eyeing a family where the teenage son was in a wheelchair (a really awesome beach-friendly wheelchair). I asked him if he though the boy's chair was cool. He said "Yeah!" So I said "Lets go say hello, you can make a new friend and tell him you think he has a cool chair."Everyone is different and I really hope I can teach my kids to see the beauty in that, not the punchline.

  • Ashley

    This makes me so mad. Children are a direct reflection of their parents and because of that we DO NOT use the fat word in our house. Someday when it is appropriate it will be discussed but until then I would rather my child swear in front of someone than insult them without being aware of it. Whats worse is that as an adults we become instantly defensive. So a little girl called you fat while your pregnant. Maybe its a good time to smile and tell the little girl you are very, very pregnant and it is normal for you to look so big.

    • http://www.domesticchaos.com Ashley

      Oh, I’m so with you on the swearing mark. Someone may be offended obliquely when my toddler says “fuck,” as he absolutely will one way, but he will not be hurting anyone with it.

      I say fat online, but it doesn’t really come up here at home; even when I’m feeling very negative I’m rarely one of those people who walks around bemoaning “I’m so fat,” and similar phrases that kids here every day at home.

  • Ashley

    This makes me so mad. Children are a direct reflection of their parents and because of that we DO NOT use the fat word in our house. Someday when it is appropriate it will be discussed but until then I would rather my child swear in front of someone than insult them without being aware of it. Whats worse is that as an adults we become instantly defensive. So a little girl called you fat while your pregnant. Maybe its a good time to smile and tell the little girl you are very, very pregnant and it is normal for you to look so big.

  • Ashley

    That's a lovely story! <3 I admit that I have to try really hard not to stare at people in public — not ot of any judgment, but because I'm curious and I like to think if I stare long enough I'll understand.

  • Ashley

    Oh, I'm so with you on the swearing mark. Someone may be offended obliquely when my toddler says "fuck," as he absolutely will one way, but he will not be hurting anyone with it.I say fat online, but it doesn't really come up here at home; even when I'm feeling very negative I'm rarely one of those people who walks around bemoaning "I'm so fat," and similar phrases that kids here every day at home.