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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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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