I Don't Think You're Fat, I Think You're Strong
When I look in the mirror, I suck in my stomach, I turn a bit to the side, I see the stretch marks from my youngest son, and then I smile. It’s taken me a really long time to get to this place. I’m okay with what I see. Do I love my body? I love what it can do, I don’t always love what it looks like. But I accept it. My strong legs that propel me in a game of chase around my yard with my oldest. My strong arms that carry the weight of my youngest all day long. And even the stretch marks that marked the baby it took us nearly a year to conceive. I’m getting there. I’m starting to see the beauty in the mirror.
While stopping in at Henry’s karate class, his teacher and I were talking about his size. I mentioned how he’s small for his age. She said, “isn’t he 3?” I said, “No! He’s almost 5!”. We laughed and she replied, “Well, you’re small, so I’m not surprised.”
I was used to that comment. I’ve always been small. My nickname growing up was Peanut. I still have an old cheerleading shirt with the nickname faded on the back. Over the years, small has meant many things when it comes to me - my height, my weight, my personality. If there’s one thing I’ve always accurately been described as, it’s small.
I left the studio and went back to the car where all three of my boys were waiting for me. I repeated the conversation to Brandon who said, “I’m glad she called you small.” I asked why, and he told me that one of the teachers at our local childcare drop off at the gym had made a comment about Harrison being big and then said “Well, his mom is big.”
In the span of five minutes I had been called small, and then been called big. It seems I was sitting somewhere in the middle of these two terms. But what comment stuck in my mind replaying on a loop? “Well, his mom is big. Well, his mom is big. Well, his mom is big.”
I have no idea what she meant by big - is it my height (normally this isn’t a consideration since I’m only 5’2, but the woman that had made the comment is under 5 feet tall). Is it my arms and legs? I’ve been working out regularly and definitely developed more muscle. Is it my weight? Something I had been actively working to change at the gym, to lose the last of the baby weight, and what my mind immediately assumed she meant. In my mind, “big” means “fat”.
I said as much to Brandon.
“So, she called me fat.”
“No, she probably said that because you’re actually taller than her,” he lied to me, as any good husband knows to do.
From the backseat, Henry was listening to our conversation.
“Who called you fat, Mommy?”
“One of your teachers at the gym.”
Without missing a beat Henry said, “Well I don’t think you’re fat. I think you’re strong.”
He said this to me with a completely straight face, his blue eyes glittering at mine. A huge grin spread across my face. Not because my son doesn’t think I’m fat. But because when he looks at his Mommy, he sees someone strong. Someone who will protect him from the world.
It had been years since I had felt as beautiful as I did in that moment. Through all of the rats nest hair days, the spit-up covered clothes, the extra weight from my pregnancy with Henry all those years ago, I hadn’t often felt pretty in the past four years. But this moment was one that I was going to sear into my psyche. I was determined to drum out all of the other negativity inside my mind and turn up the volume on Henry’s comment.
I think you’re strong. I think you’re strong. I think you’re strong.
This post was written based on a theme by H&L Writes, a monthly membership program from Holl & Lane Magazine for those who love the written word.