I don't like the word fat. If you've ever been called fat, you understand how much it can hurt, just like any other kind of judgment based name calling.
When my son first came home from Haiti, and had gorging tendencies, I often stopped his overindulgence by saying it would make him fat. But then, I heard him talking to a girl in pre-k.
"You must eat too many donuts, that's how you got so fat."
My heart sank. I had failed. Not only had I opened the door for my, then 5 year old, son to have body issues, but also made him aware of everyone else's bodies. Seriously, I had failed. And once a child is taught something, it takes time to replace that habit with a new, better one.
And so began the process of removing the word "fat" from our lingo. We picked up the word unhealthy, in its place. That worked for awhile. But "fat" seemed to just not go away.
In recent days, he and I have had many chats about how it's not the outside of someone, that makes us love them, but the content of their heart. He's realizing that no one likes to be called an appearance based name.
And suddenly, after much effort, the undoing of the old way of using "fat", has been remade into something brag worthy!
Yesterday, after a conversation about arm muscles, my son heard a girl call her mom fat. And even though the mom took it with grace, my son wasn't ok with it. He spoke up "she's not fat, she said she has fat muscles. Don't say she's fat, she's not."
Today, as I expressed my self consciousness at a pool, when he quickly assured me. "So, you have some fat skin, who cares? Girls are supposed to have jiggles and bumps. Plus, no one is perfect."
It took three years to undo my poor choice of words. But now, three years later, I am pleased to say that my son's loving heart is emerging. Not only is he avoiding using hateful labels, but he's quick to lift others up, when they need it most.
No one should feel judged, labeled, or uncomfortable for the exterior we wear.
Words can be used to tear down, or build up. Choose wisely.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT