Buyer Beware: Striped Skirts and Fat Talk

“Oh no, not that skirt. Horizontal stripes will make you look fatter,” Grandmother shopping next to me says to a little girl, slapping the girl’s hand away from a really cute tiered skirt. The little girl shrinks. My mouth and Amelia’s mouth fall open in shock.

I want to climb on top of the rack of clothing, and scream at this woman, telling her how cruel and damaging Fat Talk is to girls, especially when Fat Talk comes from the people this girl should be able to trust the most. I want to screech out the stats running through my head — percentages of little girls who hate their bodies and diet and have low self-esteem. I want to grab her and shake her and tell her what awful messages she is planting in this girl’s head. I also kind of want to hug her, and tell her to stop projecting her body hate onto this young child.

Not wanting to get kicked out of Target, and not being a crazy person, I didn’t. But I really, really wanted to.

Instead I picked up the exact same skirt, and held it up for Amelia. I’m not trying to be an ass, I just can’t let the grandmother’s words be the last thing the other girl hears in that moment.

“Hey Smalls, look at this! How awesome are these stripes!? Wouldn’t they look so fun and colorful while you run and spin? How fun!” I say. 

“I’d say it is full of awesome,” 6yo Amelia offers while waving to the little girl.

Comments

  1. Christine C. says:

    Good job! Question: What do I do if that grandmother is essentially my mom. I don’t know how to approach this subject with my mom – she put her fat issues on me and now she’s unintentionally trying to put them on my daughter. I do not want that for her. I want her to feel full of awesome. My mom is naturally a depressed and defensive person, so I don’t know how to approach this without her feeling attacked.

    For example, the other day, after I mentioned my girl needing some shorts for summer, she kindly brought over some shorts; she then proceeded to explain that she bought her size 24 months because of her pot belly. My daughter is 15 months and is in the 25th percentile, so she’s actually smaller than most of her peers. While I kindly thanked her for the shorts (which are from a place that doesn’t do returns/exchanges), I mused to myself how perfectly ridiculous this was. Any tips?

    • Family members, especially moms, are always tough. Here’s what I think I would do… “Thanks for the shorts, Mom, but Little Bit isn’t going to be able to wear these until next summer. She wears a size __.”

      Maybe she will get tired of buying things your daughter can’t wear?

  2. Gabrielle says:

    All I can say is, wow. I can’t imagine ever saying such a thing to my daughter. Poor baby. Oh, and I told Sparky about that great picture of Amelia with her new shoes. Please tell Amelia that today, Sparky is wearing a teal green long sleeve shirt with a red Cars t-shirt over it, brown velour pants, black and neon turquoise socks and brown sandals (from the boys aisle). She picked out her own outfit and feels awesome in it. (Yesterday, for our hike, she chose her Full of Awesome shirt.)

  3. Michelle says:

    I am also known for pointing out amazing, strong, clever, active, appropriate-role-model, toys (loudly) while standing next to a clearly over-the-top barbied-out-princessy little bundle of pink joy who is fawning over some glammed up my monster-high/my-little-pony/make-me-gag garbage. I always snicker to myself as I wonder if their parents think I’m nuts and lack an inside voice…

  4. Mme. Lorenzo says:

    “over-the-top barbied-out-princessy little bundle of pink joy who is fawning over some glammed up my monster-high/my-little-pony/make-me-gag garbage. I always snicker to myself as I wonder if their parents think I’m nuts and lack an inside voice…”

    The tone of your comments (“fawning,” “garbage,” “snicker”) is ugly. This is how women get distracted from the real issues: being catty and judgmental toward other women (and in this case, if I read you right, girls!) instead of being supportive, collaborative, and open-minded.

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