One fine day, my family and I were savouring a delicious breakfast buffet with our only dilemma being omelette or poached, when suddenly my then three year old toddler blurted in her not so quiet voice, “ that girl is fat!”, while pointing to a lady a couple of tables away. Being the responsible and PC parents that we strive to be, we both immediately and almost simultaneously cooed “sssshhhhh my girl we never call anyone fat and pointing is rude.” I immediately witnessed the predicament that my little one played with in her innocent yet enquiring mind – ‘but mummy that girl isn’t thin and teacher taught us just yesterday that the opposite of thin is fat and you always tell us that if we eat that many doughnuts and nutella croissants we will get fat.’ Thankfully for all parents who find themselves entangled in tricky how-am-I-going-explain-this-to-a-three-year-old webs; iPhones offer an acute distraction (for emergency situations only of course!). I, on the other hand, needed to analyse and dissect this conundrum much to my husband’s holiday horror which led him to gently suggest that perhaps I should start a blog since I was so opinionated and analytical! And an obedient wife must heed their husband’s sound advice!
So back to my analysis and dissection of critical matters like fat people. The lady a couple of tables away obviously did not hear my daughter’s offensive comment, but it got me wondering what if she had heard? Naturally she would be offended and hurt because let’s admit it – kids generally have zero filtering capability and this lady was neither pregnant nor a little out of shape nor curvy in all the right places and judging by her choice of carbs for brunch – she was quite simply fat! So in actual fact my wise offspring was 100% accurate in her description. Now I can actually here the horror and gasp that my readers are expressing just about now, but give me a chance to get to my point. Surely in today’s era of feminism and body-acceptance and free-choice, being called fat can’t possibly be the most despicable label a woman can be lambasted with and yet how much of weight do we attach to our body image and more specifically how heavy does society’s expectations weigh on what defines a ‘perfect attractive ‘ woman. Surely being branded as ignorant or arrogant or spineless or envious or miserable or selfish are far far (think Comrades marathon far) worse or have we become that superficial? Most of us spend hours training, toning and cutting our muscle but how many of us dedicate meaningful time to exercising and nurturing our characters?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means condoning a daily diet of toasted steak specials downed with chilled Cokes followed by macaroon sandwiches and some late night snacking on butttered Marie biscuits dunked in perfectly brewed chai (one day in the heavenly afterlife perhaps!). It’s pretty damn awesome that most of us strive to lead a balanced, healthy life by eating our 5-a-day and exercising moderately; but honestly I can’t recall the last meaningful conversation I had that didn’t include at least a ten-minute testament on the latest fad diet or a quiet confession on how many kilos someone has packed on. While it is inspiring that this may very well be a sign that women are taking more interest in maintaining their physique and longevity thereby implying that we are somehow making more time for ourselves (you see I am amazing at analysing crap!); I do think that some of us cross that fine line between dedication and obsession. Just imagine if we dedicated as many minutes and kilojoules as we exhaust in trying to recapture how we looked in jeans when we were 21 and without child on just simply being a better version of ourselves, on making small differences in the lives of other people, on realising that there are more crucial things in life than cellulite and stretch marks? I understand completely that the two are not mutually exclusive and I am by no means alluding that women with peach-shaped bums and ironing board tummies are mean and self-absorbed; all that I am simply saying is that as a society we do tend to emphasise vanity over veracity; skinniness over strength and fitness over moral fibre. So I say order the damn chilli cheese fries with the monster shake because there are much more important things to be in this short life than skinny and I am pretty sure that when you are being lowered into your grave; the only weight that will matter are the heavy hearts grieving the loss of a warm, kind soul.