There’s nothing quite like an afternoon with the extended family to make you question your view of your own body.
Being my grandfather’s 90th birthday, there were several generations present (with the oldest few as spritely as the young’ns… though I’m not sure what that says about my generation!) and everyone was nattering on about memories of growing up, watching others growing up, and ‘dragging up’ their own kids. As the oldest grandchild, I stood out in the memories of a lot of people. People I didn’t realise I had ever met.
These distant relations saw no issue in telling me things like…
… “you’ve lost so much weight!”
… “oh, I’m glad you’re grown into those hips”
And, my personal favourite…
… “good to see you’re changing how fat your dad made you”
(That was actually my grandmother, his mother, who is genetically responsible for the hips I had to grow into)
Let’s look at that line again, shall we?
“Good to see you’re changing how fat your dad made you“
I’m sorry, what? My dad made me fat?
How does that work? At what point does being healthy become my issue? My responsibility?
My father never forced takeaways down my throat, or withheld vegetables from my diet. This man would actively preach against soft drinks, choose a healthy, home-cooked meal over takeaways (unless he had to cook, then it was spaghetti from a can), and always, always, always encouraged us into sports. I was the one who didn’t want a bar of it.
There are a lot of things that I wish my parents had taught me about food and nutrition growing up, things I’m learning now to make sure I can teach my kids from day one. My parents knew these things, and fed us accordingly – the knowledge just didn’t transfer.
I knew what I should do, but not why I should do it. So, like most teens faced with rules that seem too restrictive for no reason, I rebelled against them.
My parents did not make me fat. To say that they had is to accuse them of abuse.
I got fat when I started feeding myself. This is a result of my own decisions.
Do I know what drove those decisions? Not definitively. But if I had to, I’d say it all boils down to not knowing the why behind good nutrition. Whether that’s a failing of my parents, the school system, or my own lack of interest is irrelevant (though my money’s on the latter).
Regardless, the responsibility lays with me.