This morning on my way to work from the babysitter’s house, I drove past the strip club on the main thoroughfare, en route to the highway, and the sign out front said, “Come on in! We fired the ugly one!” I felt my stomach drop out my butt and and felt hot angry tears well up in my eyes because what the actual fuck? For whatever reason, that sign was the thing that narrowed all the sexism in the world to a sharp painful point on my heart.
But really, that’s not true. It was just the metaphorical straw, I the metaphorical camel. Because last night in a facebook mom’s group, someone posted about her friend and the friend’s 3 month old, about how that friend was pumping to feed the baby but not making enough and so relying on donor milk, and how the mom was skimming the fat from the donor milk because she didn’t want her three month old baby to end up “a porker” like the donor mom’s infant.
I felt sick about this. I still do. And I think it was the context of this horrible, horrible idea that a mother would restrict the food of her baby while also body shaming another person’s baby, that I felt the incendiary rage of a sexist joke tip the scales. Because it feels fucking hopeless to try and change that fucked up joke when people are literally putting their babies on diets.
I thought about my mom’s comments, now multiple, about how it’s “ok” for boy babies to be big and chubby, but ‘luckily’ the girl babies she knows are all petite. She says this in front of me, maybe forgetting that I am just shy of 6 feet tall and over 200 lbs, maybe trying to make a point indirectly about my size. It makes me scared for the girl babies we have, who may very well grow up to be large in stature or girth, as easily as they wouldn’t. Will my mother shame them? Fill them with the kind of guilt she wrestles with herself and handed down to me, such a particularly feminine legacy?
I mean, here’s the reality: We, as a culture, are so terrified by the spectre of obesity that we are willing to sacrifice our babies. We are willing to skim off the fat that actually has almost nothing to do with body size but does provide crucial brain development, based on this fear. And while, sure, this is an extreme and (please God) not a common practice, a quick google search finds food restriction for toddlers and young children to not be quite so beyond the pale.
I already spend way too much time wondering what people think of me as a fat parent, and being grateful that at least for now, Ansel is exempt from having to hate himself as a pre-requisite of living in this culture. But maybe we don’t have so much time afterall.