Tag Archives: respect

The Fat Girl Responds

When I wrote my letter, I SO wasn’t expecting the response that it received. For 3 days straight, it was everywhere I looked. Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest. It was shared so many times that I lost count. It became so much more than it was ever intended to be, as my words had become the voice of many. Truth be told, I had just written it because I was mad. I wasn’t hurt and I wasn’t sad, I was just a “fat girl” who was done.

I received more responses and private messages that I ever even dreamed possible and I thank-you for all of them. Many of them were sent with love and encouragement, and some challenged me and I first want to respond to those ones.

Number One. I’m Fat, and I totally own that. By calling myself that name, I’m in no way demeaning myself, I’m calling it like it is. I’m also a brunette with size 11 feet. Those are facts. “Fat” is just a word. Calling someone fat and lazy, or unloveable because they’re fat, or walking by while making cow noises is a whole different ballgame. There is a HUGE difference.

Number Two. Yes, I’m on a diet and trying to lose weight. Well, I’m actually not even on a diet, I’m on a journey that involves me taking better care of myself. If I lose weight, awesome. If I don’t, I’m in an amazing place and I’m happy. Me trying to lose weight, in no way, means that I hate myself or am unsatisfied in my life. My letter and my personal journey in no way contradict each other.

Number Three. Yes, name calling hurts. BUT I have MADE THE CHOICE to not let it hurt me. I’m choosing to believe that my outward appearance isn’t who I am. You can also make the same choices that I have. If we give people the power to tear us down, they will. Keep that power for yourself and kick the haters to the curb. Period.

Many of the other comments absolutely broke my heart, as the majority of the people that sent them weren’t ‘feeling” the same confidence and peace that I do. They’re feeling defeat and like they’re “less than” because someone told them so. Strangers and even “friends” are constantly beating each other down with their words. It’s so stinking sad.

I also received messages or saw comments saying “she landed a hot husband”, and “she scored with him”, or other things along that same line. Problem is, that judgement of how great my husband is was based on nothing more than his appearance. He is a wonderful man, and indeed I’m blessed to have him in my life, but you can’t tell that by looking at him. People were doing the exact thing that I was standing up against. I totally recognize that it wasn’t done maliciously and that people were saying it as a compliment to me, but it was still an appearance based judgement none-the-less.

Calling someone fat is one of the few “socially acceptable” slurs still floating around. Think about it. How often do you hear fat jokes and laugh? How often are you out with friends and an overweight person walks by and someone makes an ignorant comment? How often do you, yourself say “look how fat she is”? We’ve all done it at one point or another and it needs to stop.

Reality is, this isn’t just about fat people, it’s about people in general. We REALLY need to stop judging each other based on physical features alone. Why does it matter what people look like? And why does that determine whether or not we should tease or make fun them? Why can’t you see a person, and just think of them as a person, and nothing more? Why do I need to be “Fat April” as opposed to just April? If you spend time getting to know me and THEN decide that you don’t like me, thank-you. That’s exactly how it should be.

In all honesty, watching people around us quite often inspires us to become better ourselves. Seeing someone that’s overweight and thinking that I don’t want to be that, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Seeing a homeless person living on the streets and not wanting that life, may drive home why we want to work harder to avoid that. Seeing someone with tattoos all across their face or a million piercings may just verify why we choose to do or not do that. Noticing people and how they present themselves in itself isn’t a bad thing. Calling them out on it because it doesn’t align with your idea of perfect, IS.

I think it’s totally unreasonable to expect people to stop making judgements and to start only seeing people for what they are and not what they look like. In a perfect world, that would happen, but we’re not in that place. We are a society that is totally “looks” based and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’d love for us all to make a personal effort to try to not pre-judge people and hopefully, one day we’ll see a huge difference in our world. But in the meantime, I challenge you all to just be kinder to your fellow-man.

Make your judgements, but shut your yap. If you don’t find someone attractive, okay, don’t date them. If overweight people just aren’t your “thing”, that’s fine, choose differently. If you think super skinny people aren’t good looking, that’s your prerogative. If you don’t want to cover your body in tattoos, more power to you. This world is a huge place, we are always going to find someone who we’re attracted to or we have something in common with. If we stopped pre-judging, we might just make some awesome new friends. People that might really affect our lives, challenge our thinking or bring us unspeakable joy.

So the next time you see someone who doesn’t fit your picture of what the “ideal” person should look like, just smile and go on your way. I’m not asking you to stop and ask them out for coffee, I’m asking you to treat them like human beings. We all don’t need to like each other or become friends, but we don’t need to be hurtful. Be respectful. Be gracious. And for pete’s sake, really truly treat people how you want to be treated.

Frankly, our relationships shouldn’t all be based on whether or not we would think that person would look good naked or whether or not you’d “tap that”. If you’re not attracted to me, I’m totally okay with that. But don’t for one second think that because you “think” you look better than me that I’m thinking you’re “God’s gift”. I’ll be waiting for you to open your mouth and actually speak to me. Your words will help me determine your value, and if you choose to call me a Fat Cow, feel free to consider yourself “judged”.

faults

Want to stop bullying? Then stop it.

I’ve written a couple of different blog posts about bullying … one explaining my take on the situation and another one showing how I’ve tried to deal with it in the past. In both of them I talked a lot about building our kids up so that bullies don’t have to power to take them down. I still wholeheartedly believe in that but I think it’s time that we as a society stand up and take responsibility for our part in perpetuating this insanity. Children look to us to lead them and guide them. They copy what we do. We are their guides and leaders. We need to take that more seriously. Now.

I’m thankful that people are finally really acknowledging bullying and the horrific ramifications that it brings about. What makes me sick is that it took the death of a young girl to make people take notice. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first death as a result of bullying. We should’ve taken better notice a long, long time ago. My hope is that these same people who have jumped on the “bullying is bad bandwagon” will actually do something to make a change and not just use this event as a way to make themselves look righteous. Please let that be what happens.

If you want bullying to stop, we as a society need to stop bullying. Stop telling and laughing at fat jokes. Quit pointing out “gingers” and making ignorant comments about them. Stop commenting on buck teeth, freckles, greasy hair, pimples, etc, etc. Quit pointing out the faults of everyone around you and/or laughing along when someone makes ignorant remarks.  Next time you get the urge to call someone fat or ugly, picture your daughters face on their shoulders. Not so appealing now is it? Grow Up.

Don’t post on Facebook how upset you are by bullying and how awful it is, and then go and post ignorant “jokes” or pictures. Don’t say that bullying is terrible and then start all of your sentences with “I don’t mean to be rude”, or “no offense”.  Don’t shove people out of your way in the grocery store, don’t butt in line, don’t belittle people in lower positions than you. Be respectful. Be polite. Be a decent human being.

When your children make ignorant comments about peers or people in their world. Correct them. When they tell inappropriate jokes. Correct them. When they comment that someone is poor or stupid or ugly. Correct them. Please don’t agree or laugh with them. You are their example. When the opportunity to teach your children arises, use it. Talk about how we’re all different and that it’s okay. Discuss how some people look different because they can’t help it. Teach them about money, and how not every has as much or has more than your family. Explain to them why they’re being corrected. They’ll get it sooner than you think, and their bad habits will be replaced with kind and compassionate ones.

Really teach your kids their worth. No one should ever think that they need to lift their shirt and bare their breasts to make someone like them. Teach them that they don’t need the approval of others to be valuable. Show them that they don’t need to be “sexy” to get attention. Teach them that the number of friends they have on Facebook or the numbers of TBH’s they participate in, is in no way reflective of their value. Kids need to be built up and reminded DAILY of how awesome they are. If they are getting approval and encouragement at home, they’re not going to seek it out everywhere they go. Kids still want to fit in and belong, that’s never going to change. But if they feel secure and “know” their worth, it’ll be a lot tougher for someone else to take advantage of them or beat them down. Period.

Teach your children that they don’t need to share every little piece of themselves with others. Facebook , Instagram and Twitter are not diaries. Pictures and words are forever, help them understand that. Talk to them about online predators, and REALLY talk to them. If you’re going to allow your children to use social media, take the time to figure out how it works. Learn what texting shortcuts mean. Never assume that your child is smart enough to know when they’re being lied to or scammed. And on the flip-side, don’t assume that your child would never behave inappropriately online. Kids that are normally shy or quiet will quite often open-up online because it’s so anonymous. They can hide behind a fake persona and become anything their minds can imagine.

Consider setting up a “fake account” with a picture of someone cute. Pretend to attend another local school, pick common “likes” to your kids – food, sports teams, video games. Then send your child a friend request and see what happens. If they don’t initially accept it, try again. Add a note to your request saying something like, “we used to play ball together” or whatever.  Once they befriend you, starting asking questions. Will they give you pictures when asked for them? Will they tell you where they go to school, share their phone number, address, etc, etc? If you invite them to an awesome party, will they agree to go? Maybe your kids will surprise you and will never accept your request but if they do, use this to show them just how easy it was to get them talking. Predators do this EVERY DAY.

We need to change what is normal. And what is expected. Children aren’t sexy. Physical appearance doesn’t determine your worth. Money does not equal power. Domestic Violence is not cool and should not be ignored. Movie stars, pop icons and their lifestyles are not reality. Please figure out a way to help your children see that and believe it. We need to set higher standards for our children and ourselves. Stop accepting wrong behaviour as normal.

Frankly, we as adults also need to recognize the power that we have. Our words bite just as much as those of a teenager. We are just older and “smarter” and a little bit braver. We somehow find ways to justify our behaviour because we “know” that we’re right. We’re educated, churched and have lots of life experience. Quit mistaking those things as “rights to abuse or bully”.

Politics, religion, ideals and opinions will always be fodder for bashing. Instead of joining in on the bandwagon of crazy behaviour, listen. Hear what people have to say, and then agree or disagree. If you have a concern or you don’t understand something, ask about it. So many of our “fights” are a result of mis-information or blatant gossip. Before you make a judgement, make sure you have all the facts. Agree or Not, doesn’t really matter. Your response is what’s important. Hatred should never be an option.

Bullying is a horrible, horrible thing but it’s just a symptom of something bigger. As we all move forward, working towards change, please think of this one simple word. Respect. Respect for yourself, and respect for the people around you. If we could all just focus on that, the world would be a much happier and safer place.

M is for Mine

I read a post by the fabulous Redneck Mommy yesterday and it struck a chord with me. I encourage you to go and read it here. In fact, while you’re on her page, read her story. This is a woman and a family that have endured some unthinkable things and still continue to press on.

Tanis said things that I think about all the time. She’s adopted her child, so her story is different from mine. But I too struggle with the other Mom’s in my life.

I’m a foster parent. I have the honor of raising children that have been pushed aside or had to take a backseat to addictions and abuse. They quite often are a product of tragedy or terrible circumstances. They don’t have other family able to care for them anymore or their “issues” are too scary for people to take on. Whatever the reasons are,  I’ve come into their lives because there’s no other options available. I am their 2nd or 3rd or 15th chance at a normal life.  But, I am not their Mom.

We’ve had dozens of children live with us, and every single one of them still had involvement with their real Mom’s. On one hand I’m happy that they have contact with their bio-parent because that’s important, but it also makes it a lot tougher for me. I’m the one that “goes against” their real Mom … not because of what I do, but because of the place I’ve taken in their life. I am always the other parent,  even though they’re in my care 99% of the time.  I am everything they wish their real Mom would’ve been. They want their Mom holding them and loving them, they don’t want me.

I’m the one that parents them, sets rules and gives them expectations, all things that they know nothing about. I’m the voice that tells them things that they’ve never even heard before. “You are only a child, you don’t have to take care of yourself. You may not go for a walk at midnight, you can’t spend the night at your girlfriends house because you’re 11, drinking and smoking do not make you cool, and neither do drugs. Yes, you need to wear socks and underwear and no you can’t just steal something because you like it. I’m sorry that’s how you used to do things, but we’re going to try something new now”.

I’m the one that wakes them from their screaming nightmares. I’m the one driving them to counselling appointments in hopes of repairing some of the damage that’s been caused by others. I’m the one fighting for justice for them. It’s me listening to their stories of abuse, horror and betrayal. You’ll find me sitting at doctors appointments, or waiting in the lobby at the dentist or optometrist. It’s me begging teachers for a second chance or going to court to learn the terms of probation. But still, I’m not their Mom.

Some of my days are so incredibly difficult and trying that I can’t even put them into words. My heart breaks for them and what they’ve been through, but somehow I still have to reach them. I spend hours and hours trying to piece together their past and figure out the reasons for what they do and how to help them work through it all. I fight everyday to teach them a new way of thinking and to show them a better way of living. I struggle with making them feel safe enough that they’ll let their past experiences go.

Then there’s the weekly visits with “Mom”, and everything that I’ve worked so hard for is questioned. My parenting style, my rules, my choices for them are judged and quite often ridiculed. They end up being showered with candy, and treats and zero expectations. I quickly become the bad guy again, and again, and again.

But I know that this is all that they have with her and that’s all she has to give them. I know that her heart breaks for all that she’s lost with them, and I hope that if she could go back and choose differently, that she would. I also know that it’s easier to make me out to be the bad guy instead of taking all the blame for herself. And well, I guess I’ll take that.

While you live with your regrets, bad choices and the ability to bash me, I’m raising your babies. I’m watching them grow and change. I’m seeing breakthroughs and changes that I once never dreamed were possible. I’m watching the child that didn’t hardly speak for 6 months now sing and talk so much that we have to bribe her to just shush for a minute. I’m at their award ceremonies and cheering them on at sporting events. I’m telling them that they don’t have to love me, because it makes them feel unloyal to you. I’m encouraging them to forgive you and all your mistakes. I’m giving them permission to not call me Mom because they already have one.

So, I give you that. You can be their Mom. Please know that I will never disrespect you to them. I will love them like my own and I will raise them to the best of my ability. I promise you that they will leave me better than they came.

I will honor you as their Mother. But while they are with me, they are MINE.

*I must say that not all of my experiences with Bio-parents have been bad, and I’ve also had kids that have amazing extended families. This was just me clearing my head of 13 years of being Mom Number Two.

This post is Day 15 of the Summer Blog Challenge – 31 posts in 31 Days

Please visit my fellow challenge bloggers and read their stories.

Meaghan at Magz D Life
Tam at Tam I Am
Liam at In The Now
Jessica at2plus2X2