The other day my 7 year old heard a random kid call me a “whale.” My son doesn’t really understand the significance of that word and how I used to hear that word and similar words many years ago. Back then I gave those words value. All he knew is that the tone the boy used wasn’t one he liked. He was upset that anyone would speak ill of me. I’m the one who goes to battle for him; and I suppose he thought it necessary to go to battle for me. I explained to my son that those words don’t mean anything to me. At least they don’t anymore.
I used to be a 105 lb 20 year old with what was considered “the perfect body.” Although I’ve always been confident, I used to allow others’ opinions to validate how beautiful I was. I used to equate my weight with beauty and happiness. My weight has fluctuated throughout my life. Throughout those years I often heard derogatory words in regards to my weight.
Even while sporting “the perfect body” (whatever the Hell that is) I was called a “fat whore” for crossing the street when I had the right of way, by a balding heavyset male driver who didn’t think I actually had the right of way. I let this man’s words cut me like a knife. I thought about this incident for days (OK years) and gave it value.
I have been called a “cow” by my female peers when I was less than 9 years old in my gymnastics class. I was barely 60 lbs at that age and I was outcasted because they decided I wasn’t worthy of their friendship. So, I believed them. I believed I wasn’t worthy and I told my parents I no longer wanted to go to gymnastics class because I let these bullies’ words have value.
I am now the heaviest weight I have ever been in my life. Well, technically I’ve lost 15 lbs since changing my eating habits. However, I’m still not even close to how thin I used to be. I honestly don’t want to be that thin again. I know, shocking; but it’s true. At this point in my life, I’m happy with my healthy changes. I’m happy with my body finally fighting for me the way it’s supposed to. I’m happy with how I look and feel in my skin. I’m happy being ME.
The truth is that I will always have Anxiety and mental health struggles, but I am overall HAPPY. My weight no longer determines my beauty or my happiness. I no longer give value to words that undermine my progress and strength. But, my 7 year old doesn’t understand that yet. It has taken me years of learning to love myself for who I am and the good that I do in this world.
That word hurt my son because he hasn’t had to deal with much hate and hurt in his life. We’ve been shielding him from the hatred this world brings. But we can’t shield him forever. So, I explained as best as I could that sometimes when people are hurting inside, they are mean to others on the outside. I also explained that the word “whale” can mean whatever you want it to. For me, it’s a unique and majestic queen of the ocean.
I’ll take my crown whenever that random kid comes back to call me a “whale” again.