If you were to ask me what accomplishment I am proudest of as a parent My answer would be this: My daughter likes to jiggle my fat. And you are probably thinking, how sweet, her toddler sits on her lap and enjoys the softness A girl too young to yet understand that something can feel so pleasant and still be reviled.
My daughter is twenty years old.
She sneaks up behind me while I’m washing the dishes, reaches around to put her hands on my belly and whispers: Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. Then we laugh like maniacs. A tiny act of revolution.
I am proud to have raised a daughter who is as comfortable with my body as I am. She has seen it in bathing suits and tank tops, Watched it swim and hike and snorkel and travel and eat and laugh and work and dance And never has she said, “Oh my god, mom, could you please just not.”
I am proud to have given her an adolescence very different from my own. Not once has she ever heard me utter the words “I don’t want to ruin the picture” Or “once I lose 50 pounds then…” If we go shopping and the pants don’t fit it’s because they are too small for me, I am not too large for them.
We were out shopping once and she held up a dress for me. I asked “what size is it?” She said 22 Wide. I laughed and told her the W actually stood for “Women’s”. And then silently delighted in the fact that she lives in a world where the women she knows Would buy clothing labelled as Wide. It wouldn’t occur to her that my size Needs to be marketed by coy euphemism.
A couple of years ago we were watching tv and they were talking about a character I couldn’t remember So I asked my daughter, “who’s Dodie again?” And her answer was simply “she was the fat woman that Big Jim shot” And my heart swelled with pride. Because in our house, fat is an adjective, Not a pejorative. It doesn’t mean ugly, It doesn’t mean lazy, It doesn’t mean stupid. It means exactly and only a body that is larger than average in size.
I wanted to set a different sort of example. To save her all the years of struggle that came between there and here For me. All the years of counting and restricting and comparing and measuring. Of measuring and always coming up short. Of measuring all the wrong things.
If I accomplish nothing else of note for the rest of my life This tiny revolution will be enough. My daughter is twenty years old And she likes to jiggle my fat.
Christine Whelan makes her home in Edmonton, Canada, where she strives to live a life of joyous abandon.