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?






  1. girl you are soooooooo far from fat. you look great and you’ve worked your A$$ off to get where you are. You should be so proud.

    • Robin

      That’s something I forget to include- that I can care about what I’ve worked for because it represents the WORK, as opposed to the adhering to how I “should” look. I am proud! Thanks.

  2. I really enjoyed this post and the lessons learned both by you and Cass.

    When I was younger, I was told I had thunder thighs (more than once). I never really reacted to it but I did know my legs were not small..not my any means.

    Only recently (within the past few years) did I come to realize how strong they are. They may not be small but they are strong and I’m proud of them 🙂


    • Robin

      I love how we learn to accept our bodies’ strengths as we get older. I regret not appreciating what I looked like at 16, but at 36 I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin.

  3. I think you did a great job of teaching her a lesson. I think that how we react to something teaches them a lot. Sadly, at some point in her life someone will refer to her in a way that stings a little whether it be fat, short, tall, old, you name it and she has learned from you, her mom, that how other people view her isn’t a big deal and she shouldn’t let it sting. It’s a hard lesson, particularly for us females, and one that we continue learning all our lives. Like you, I hear the voices in my head–my mom never called me thick, or fat, but I did see her skipping meals ‘to stay thin’ and heard her tell me that no matter how hard I work I would always have that little pooch of fat on my thighs because it’s hereditary. I learned food was a reward, not a necessity. Good job!

    • Robin

      Thanks 🙂 My message seems to really have solidified into – it’s important to BE and not SEEM. To be proud of who you ARE over how others see you. I think I might literally get it tattooed on.

  4. I absolutely love how you responded. And I love your thoughts on not giving power to the word “fat” and for pointing out speed and strength, not looks. It’s really hard to change our perspectives, and I work so hard to watch how I talk about myself and my weight around my girls. And you look amazing, strong and fit.

    • Robin

      Thanks. What keeps going around my head is that she is beautiful and she looks like no one else in the world more than ME, so it’s really important that *I* think I’m enough as I am. And to SAY it, because the kid is not a mind reader.

  5. Fabulous response, Rob. I wrote a post earlier in the week using these very same words – PARENTING IS HARD. And while it is hard, by considering her teaching moment before your own, know that you are quite good at it.

    • Robin

      Someone should warn people that parenting is hard. And keeps getting harder, dang.

  6. i <3 you. good for you for being in the moment and seizing an opportunity to teach a lesson.

    I have to wonder if sometimes our girls test us to see how we will react to these comments. Even at barely 5, Izzy will tell me I have a big belly after a meal. I just reply 'I know, it's awesome. It means I ate really good food. Plus it makes a nice pillow for you.' And she will laugh and sometimes she will repeat a similar statement.

    You know I am not happy about where I am right now and I want to make some changes too. But both of us should still be proud of where we are. I have so much to say about this post but for now I will just say there is nothing fat, mannish shouldered, or soft about you, my friend. You are an awesome mom and great role model.

    • Robin

      Cassidy always wanted to know if there was a baby in there. Yes. It’s my food baby.

      You’re damn right we should be proud! Never meant for a moment that we shouldn’t be. We’re both pretty badass.

  7. I have been going through this lately as well. My husband recently decided to “get fit” and lost more than 40 lbs. My daughters saw the transformation first hand and I made sure to be very clear that Daddy was “getting healthy” “getting fit”, instead of getting thinner, or getting skinny. It’s hard. I consciously never talk about my weight in front of the kids either positively or negatively. When they ask why Mommy has to go to the gym or go for a run – I always say, because Mommy wants to be healthy. It is so tempting to allow them to hear my inner monologue which is more like – damn you are getting big or wowser did you really need that burger…but in the end, I don’t want that to be my legacy to them as a woman… Thanks so much for sharing – this was a great reminder to keep it going!

    • Robin

      It’s definitely tricky. Weight loss is an undeniable motivator and it’s tough navigating the “going to work out to make changes in my body” with “you are enough just as you are.” Really there is no reason the two statements can’t co-exist; it’s the intentions behind them that matter, and those need to be spoken so kids hear it.

      Also- if I’m any reminder to keep it going that makes me enormously proud! Go you!

  8. I think you look AMAZING. I thought your response to your daughter was very appropriate!

  9. You did it just right and you SHOULD be proud of that. It’s such a tricky line to walk with girls. I’m going to remember your response with my 8-yr. old daughter.

    And for the record, you look fantastic from any of the angles.

  10. Well my legs are still quite thick and I’ve actually had my 7 year old tell me that my legs are still fat… but I can also put my 138 pound 13-year-old on my back and squat 5 reps with her.

    So there. 😉

    • Robin

      It’s a running joke in our house that if we were in a desolate place and my husband or 15yo son broke a leg, I could carry him to safety on my back. If I broke a leg I’d be bear food 🙂


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