This past Saturday, I had the great privilege to speak on behalf of the Size Diversity Task Force at the Stop The Pain Anti Bullying Conference in Riverside. I spoke about all bodies being good bodies and I talked with them about the fact that weight-related bullying can come from many sources including parents, teachers, doctors and coaches. It seemed like many of them were interested in the topic and I had a great time. But one of the moments that really touched me, came from a Dad in the back of the room.
The room was overfilled and he had stood against the wall for the entire presentation. At the end I asked for questions and he raised his hand. He said that he had come to the presentation on behalf of his sixteen year old daughter. He said that he came with his beautiful wife (and he gestured towards her) because he wanted to know how to help his daughter. He said that his daughter had always been somewhat heavier, and that she was having a hard time accepting herself. He said that he and his wife told her that she was beautiful every day, but that she was having a hard time believing it. He wanted to know what he should do.
I told him first of all, that he should keep telling her that she is beautiful. That maybe it doesn’t seem like it’s sinking in, but that she’s hearing it. I told her that sometimes we aren’t ready for that message at that moment in our lives, but that there will come a moment at some time in our lives when we are ready, and we will gather those words and those memories to us at that time and we will treasure them always. I told him that he could offer help, but that he has to be patient. She will only accept help when she’s ready. I suggested that he could direct her towards support groups like the Size Diversity Task Force that could some day help her find her way through the prejudice out there and help her emerge triumphant as a size positive freedom fighter. And I thanked him for asking the question.
Honestly, I was blown away by this guy and his wife. They cared enough about their daughter to stand in a hot classroom for an hour and listen to me talk about my journey, size diversity, size prejudice, the near impossibility of permanent weight loss, Health At Every Size and more. They were able to keep their minds open and see if they could learn something new. And they were humble enough to ask for help. Now I have no idea what it is really like for them in their house and in their family. But I was deeply moved by the idea that there are parents out there willing to buck the status quo to really help their kids and there is hope in this world of size oppression within strong families willing to care for their kids in a way that may not be “socially acceptable” but in a way that works.
I am deeply grateful to Kandee Lewis and the Size Diversity Task Force for this opportunity to speak, but more importantly to listen and learn from other folks who are working to end bullying in their own lives and the lives of others.
The Fat Chick