The one thing I remember from my first visit with my then-family doctor (after I had “graduated” from my pediatrician in my early tweens) was that the first thing she told me was that I needed to lose weight.
It was a refrain that I got used to hearing, one that I had heard often from people in my childhood but most saliently from healthcare professionals when I started to enter my teens: the space I took up in the world was a problem, and that the problem could be fixed if I just ate less and worked out more. Every doctor I spoke to brought up my weight first, and often neglected to engage in any other health-related conversations that didn’t center around my weight. This is what I thought doctors did: told you that you were fat, and that fatness was a problem to be fixed.
Now that I’m a father—still in a larger body, all these decades later—I think a lot about how the world will treat my daughter as she grows up. I worry especially about how she will see and accept her body for what it is, no matter what shape or size it will take. I spent so many years of my life (and really, still do) feeling inadequate because of how I look, because of how the world saw my body; this is not a reality I want for my child.
Fat Talk is the book I needed to read, not just as a parent, but as someone who is fat. It reminded me that I am worthy of kindness at any size, and that I can help my daughter learn and understand that as well. Virginia Sole-Smith’s new book is rooted in science and incredibly well-sourced, but what resonated most with me were the stories she told of people who, like me, have struggled to accept their body, and those who have accepted themselves for who they are and are teaching their children these lessons too.
We may live in a world rife with anti-fat bias, but that doesn’t mean we have to perpetuate it; Fat Talk gives the tools to dismantle fatphobia and to create “a safer and more weight-inclusive space for kids of all sizes.” I can’t recommend this book enough.
Fat Talk by Virginia Sole-Smith