Allison Kimmey, who had a long battle with body dysmorphia, restrictive eating and yo-yo dieting, now devotes herself to inspiring an unapologetic, body-positive community of women. So when her daughter called her "fat," the mom of two knew just what to say.
Kimmey was telling her kids to get out of the pool when her daughter, upset about having to go, told her brother their "mama is fat."
The mom, who is also a self-help author and speaker, posted the conversation on her popular Instagram @allisonkimmey. And everyone is loving her explanation of what "fat" really means.
"The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It's not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?" Kimmey asks her daughter.
Her daughter points out that she did have some on her tummy, while her son responds, "I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me."
"Yes, that's true. Some people have a lot, and others don't have very much. But that doesn't mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand?" Kimmey says.
They both repeat the new lesson: They "shouldn't say someone is fat because you can't be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it's OK to have different fat."
"Fat" is not a bad word in Kimmey's household.
"If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable," she writes.
Kids learning fat-shaming language can stem from so many places, like overhearing it at a friend's house or from TV. But Kimmey notes that this is where parents should step in: "It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest."
Kimmey isn't alone in being fat-shamed by her kid. Many moms have shared with us similar moments with their children whose words have stung.
When this happens, Kimmey suggests moms take a minute to internalize what the kids said.
"Taking a few moments to move passed a sudden reaction will allow you to define the next step with awareness. We have a set of family values, and that helps guide us in our discussions with our children. I always begin by asking them what they meant by their statement or if they understand what a particular word means. Usually it turns out they mean something completely different. And from there we break it apart more, I lead with questions for them and that provides an opportunity for me to help them get the answer themselves and empowers their belief system," she tells Mom.me.
It can take time for moms to learn to accept their bodies, including all the unexpected postpartum changes. In these moments, hurtful words from loved ones, especially, can cut deep. Kimmey's advice?
"Usually when something is hurtful it is because it is an insecurity that has been affirmed outside of yourself ... something you are already struggling with. Understand that, and have grace for yourself. We are all hurting, and we are all healing. Self-love is a long process of unlearning everything we have been taught to hate about ourselves, and relearning these differences as unique characteristics that make us one of a kind. Poor body image is a universal issue, but there is no one size fits all path to recovery," she says. "My best advice is to start taking action. A lot of times we sit around hoping to absorb someone else's 'good vibes' without actually doing anything about our current state. Blasting through fears and taking action empowers and removes the fear that was there to begin with!"