I didn’t react well when my six-year-old asked me if she looked fat in the shirt she was wearing.
I’ll admit that the first thing out of my mouth was “What?” followed very quickly by a “No!” and a barrage of questions of who had told her she looked fat and why she thought she was fat and any other question I could think of to discover the culprit and pummel them into the dirt for making her feel so terrible.
She told me that no one told her she was fat, except herself in her head.
“It makes me look fat”, she told me plainly, as if me not understanding what she was saying was the stupidest thing I had ever said and done in her presence.
She couldn’t grasp what I wasn’t getting about the situation. She just kept pointing at the shirt, an old 4T shirt/pajama top that she sleeps in sometimes. It’s one of those that’s got the Empire waist made so popular by Jane Austen and Greco-Roman art.
It was an adorable little outfit, with a fitted neckline and sleeves, but that flares away from the body just under her non-existent bust line. It was pink and edged in ribbons and six years old. There was a reason it was relegated to the ‘comfy clothes’ drawer.
I thought it best to address the immediate issue first so I said, “No honey, that shirt is made that way. It’s supposed to be poofy and look pretty… kinda like a cupcake.”
She liked that idea and was ready to retreat back to her room and probably away from the look of horror on my face that I was badly masking.
I didn’t want her to leave until I’d banished ALL thoughts of her thinking she was fat from her mind.
I didn’t know how to handle that, I didn’t know what to say or how to say it, but I had to do something right then and there. I was losing her attention span, which is short during the summer months, and fast.