She Said I had Fat Legs.

  If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.

― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays


I talked my local blogger friend Kelly aka The Turnip Farmer into buying a Groupon for 10 RivFit classes at the CrossFit box in town with me. This class claims to be perfect for the “non-athlete or beginner athlete” which I am calling BULLSH*T on, but that’s a post for another day (probably tomorrow).

Because I do plan to write about those classes, I’ve been having Kelly snap a quick photo afterwards. I was posting this one to Instagram and explaining the class to my 8yo daughter Cassidy.

I said, “After I’m done the 10 classes my arms are gonna be RIPPED from all the burpees and pushups.”

Cass said, “Yeah.


But you’ve still got fat legs.”



Context. See, I lost a goodly amount of weight last year. The scale has crept back up a bit since, but I’m also a lot stronger. I’ve got a layer of fat hanging about, and it’s more obvious I think because of the muscle developing underneath (this is especially true of my abs).

I know full well I’m not fat, or heavy, or even particularly big-boned, although I have man shoulders. But when she said that all I could hear was my mother gleefully noticing after I had Jacob that my legs sure were getting THICK. My husband noting I’m looking a little softer in my bathing suit than I did last year, and BTW did I really only go work out once last week?

Those words all rolled off like water down a duck’s back, but to hear them from my daughter?

Stung. Cut to the bone.

Partially because in truth I’ve had to acknowledge that photos taken of me lately from one angle…




or another…


 have made me look a bit chunkier than photos taken from other angles.


with my favorite person on the internet,
Melanie of Blogging Basics 101.

same outfit. SAME DAY.



Same shorts as in the RivFit photo… basically the same top, different color.


So this is the swirling mess that’s going on in my head after she told me I had fat legs.

I do look fat.

I don’t look fat.

And then I realized that this is NOT ABOUT ME and my lingering insecurities.

This is a teaching moment FOR HER. She’s EIGHT, why is she pointing out my fat legs?

And I swatted her lightly on the butt and said, “Well, some of us aren’t eight anymore. These legs can carry a horse.”

(NOTE: I can’t really carry a horse. Not even a little one. But I wanted her to be impressed.)

She was not impressed. “My legs are all muscle.”

It’s true, the kid is a string bean. Compared to hers my legs are redwood trees.

I said yeah. You play a lot of soccer and swim a lot. You’re fast. You’re all muscle.

And then I walked away.

I’m carrying a bit more chunk than I used to. At some angles photos are unflattering.

So what?

My daughter called me fat and I didn’t visually react to the word. I didn’t whine “I’m not fat!” as if carrying a few extra pounds or having field hockey thighs was the end of the world. I didn’t parry with calling her skinny— god, I would be really upset with myself if I had.

I mentioned my strength. I complimented her speed.

And I’m really freaking proud of that, more than any well-framed photo or number on a scale. Because the cultural reaction to the notion of fat is so ingrained that I almost fell for it even though I know full well my weight is fine and I don’t care all that much about it anyway.

And now I’m hyper aware of the need to watch how I phrase things, because they’re always listening and watching, aren’t they? 15 years later and my mother’s voice still cackles in my ear.

We can complain all we want about how the media and the fashion industry warps girls’ body image (and we should) but at the end of the day, my daughter sees what I do and hears what I say. She takes her cues from me.

And when people compliment me, I tend to hem and haw about how I still have a few pounds to lose. I pshaw and point out any little thing that’s wrong with me.

It doesn’t matter how proud I am of the pushups and pullups I can do, how much I emphasize STRONG for the sake of being STRONG and SMART for the sake of being SMART, how much I preach not being caught up in appearances, if I also indulge in a kneejerk reaction the second someone calls me out on mine.

The wrong thing said could have undone a lot of the work I’ve done telling my daughter that she’s beautiful no matter what, that how you look is unimportant compared to who you are, and that what other people think of your appearance is really none of your business.

I guess I need to do a little more work teaching it to myself.



I know some people will think I should have said something more along the lines of, you shouldn’t call people fat. You’ll hurt their feelings. I thought about that, and I think it gives the word more power. Then if she’s mad at someone, she wants to insult them, she calls them fat. Right? That’s how mean girls operate.

She wasn’t trying to be mean; she was making an observation. She’s eight. My reaction would have shaped her idea of what fat means. Of how she should feel about it.

That’s how these things start. I’m looking for ways to break that cycle.

Anyway. Just when I thought it was getting easier…

I remember parenting is hard.


Learned any hard parenting lessons lately?





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This month in non-news:

Apparently H & M used some shots of a “plus-size” model (who really does not look plus sized to me) in their summer swim spread— something that H & M didn’t feel was a big enough deal to mention or publicize. Someone at Business Insider was savvy enough to note that Abercrombie & Fitch, by contrast, only carries women’s sizes up to a size 10, not even offering XL options or larger. To create controversy where there was none, the article resurfaced some comments Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries made in 2006, and the internet obligingly took up its pitchforks.

Look, A&F is not new to fashion what-the-fuckery. If you actually take the time to go back and read the 2006 Salon article, it details how A&F was criticized in 2002 for hawking thongs which read Eye Candy and Wink Wink on the front to middle-school girls (remember that?). Their ads and bags have always been borderline child pornography. Eyeroll-worthy tshirts sparking protest include It’s All Relative in West Virginia, Wong Brothers Laundry Service— Two Wongs Can Make It White, Who Needs a Brain When You Have These?Do I Make You Look Fat? and Gentlemen Prefer Tig Ol’ Bitties.


abercrombie & fitch bag


A&F has been doing everything in their power to alienate the general population, anyway, with their overpriced clothes that you can purchase at a state of “worn in” that translates to “pretty much falling apart.” They were pretty much responsible for making it acceptable for men to wear dressier foot thongs outside pool and locker room setting. I personally can barely make it through the door of their stores, as the music and overpowering reek of what Carrie Underwood so aptly dubbed “bathroom Polo” gives me a raging headache within seconds.

That’s intentional. Abercrombie doesn’t want my middle-aged, snarky money:

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.”

Ah yes, the cool kids. The ones who are dressing sexy before their time, who graduate to defining themselves by how sexy they appear to be, who are totally behind advertising their racism, sexism, ignorance and bigotry on their chests.

“Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

I actually don’t disagree with him. It’s important to recognize your target audience, your niche, your brand.

As a brand, Abercrombie is, in essence, the equivalent of that hot guy at a frat party who you were super excited to find coming on to you. Until you realize he’s dumb as rocks, all hands, and is only talking to you because he realizes how awesome you think he is.

They don’t care about you, they care about how much you love them and how much they can get out of you before you’ve sobered up enough to know any better.

“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Their target audience? Shallow status-seekers who have more money than sense. Who find entitlement, self-confidence and belonging through herd mentality and exclusionist behavior.

In short, Jeffries is a douchbag, and a 69-year-old douchebag at that.

He caters to the cult of sexy. He perpetuates the cult of sexy.

Every year I grow older, I understand more that sexy is not something a person is, it is how they appear to be; a byproduct and not an end; and frankly, what other people think of me is none of my business.

The idea that I would care what a 69-year-old douchebag thinks of me is laughable. I don’t care how he defines “cool kid” or “sexy” or at what size pants he thinks popular ends. I do think he should be allowed to brand his clothing any way he wants, and his being so vocal about it helps all of us.

Should you boycott Abercrombie & Fitch? My guess is if you care about any of this, you weren’t buying any of his overpriced junk anyway.

Should you donate your A&F to the homeless? Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan has 6 very good reasons not to #FitchTheHomeless, but my gut thought is that the homeless deserves better than to wear that badge of shame.

Because ultimately, Jeffries has done us a solid here. He’s straight up told us non-cool kids to save our money. His company has clearly positioned itself as a brand that provides uniforms for douchebags, by douchebags, conveniently slapping a label on people not worth your time.

That’s useful branding, yo. Every company should wear their ethics (or lack therof) so entirely on their sleeve.

I’m totally cool with that.


*Bag pictured is from a purchase years ago; we find it so ridiculous that we reuse it at Christmas every year, passing it back and forth. Manly “embellishment” was not my handiwork.*


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For the love of everything that’s holy, stop saying things are the new sexy.

No really. I mean it.

You know how Justin Timberlake brought sexy back?

I’d pay him two turntables and a microphone to take that shit back where he found it.



strong is not the new sexy



It’s become a common thing lately to say things are the new sexy.


Strong is the new sexy.

Smart is the new sexy.

Confident is the new sexy.


Um, NO. Words matter. Distinctions matter.

They matter in the way we judge ourselves and the message we impart to our daughters.

There is a difference, and I’ll tell you what that difference is.


By definition, sexy means attractive, appealing, arousing sexual desire or interest.


Strong, smart, confident, generous, adventurous:

these are states of being.


You ARE strong if your body or spirit is capable of great burden.

You ARE smart if you can decipher or analyze.

You ARE confident if you believe in yourself, even when circumstance beckons you not to.

These are qualities of being. They are ends in themselves.


Sexy is a state of appearing. It is a byproduct.


Sexy is by definition a PERCEPTION of your physical and hormonal allure to another person.

It is, and please excuse my language, a measure of how f*ckable you are.


I don’t give a rat’s ass how f*ckable I appear to anyone.


I want to BE strong. I want to BE smart. I want to BE confident and independent and courageous.

In all things I strive to BE and not SEEM.

You play a dangerous game when you confuse what you ARE and what you APPEAR TO BE.
SO. Please.


Aim to BE so many things.


Just stop calling them the new sexy.

That demeans them. And you.



*For the record, I love the MAC ad pictured and its implication of strong as beautiful. It is the cheapening of that message that I resent.*



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The Elton Blue




This I call my sailboat
These are all my friends,
That beyond’s the shoreline
And that is where it ends.

The Ocean Blue


Quite possibly my favorite photo of me with the kids, ever.

I’ve already informed them that if (when) we form a family rock ‘n’ roll band a là The Partridge Family and release our first album, this will be the cover and the title The Elton Blue.

(Photo taken Easter Day, Long Beach Island.)

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