Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith
The Burnt Toast Podcast
"This Was Before It Was Normal for Makeup to Give You New Skin."
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"This Was Before It Was Normal for Makeup to Give You New Skin."

Plus body autonomy in parenting, food rewards, the hell that is business casual and more.
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You’re listening to Burnt Toast. This is the podcast where we talk about diet culture, fatphobia, parenting, and health. I’m Virginia Sole-Smith. I also write the Burnt Toast newsletter.

Today is the February Ask Us Anything with Corinne! We get into so much good stuff this month. We’re going to kick it off with a question about a kid who is possibly my favorite 4-year-old on the planet right now. And then we’ve got lots of great stuff about working through body feelings, comfort eating, allyship, clothes of course, always, and makeup—including a little ‘90s flashback that I think a lot of you will love.

This episode is our February Paywall Episode. That means to hear the whole conversation or read the whole transcript, you'll need to go paid. It's just $5 a month or $50 for the year.  And you’ll get to hear the full conversation, including the ‘90s makeup artist who was maybe the proto-Kardashian when it comes to cheek contouring? You don’t want to miss it. 


Episode 82 Transcript

Virginia

Last month, people were like, “tell us your favorite breakfast!” This month, people are like, “can we dive down deep in this rabbit hole?” We’ve got some very rich conversations to get into today. Do you want to read the first one? 

Corinne

I do. Okay:

My 4-year-old stepdaughter goes to a wonderful preschool that teaches her phrases like “I get to do what feels good in my body,” presumably in contexts like deciding how much to eat and which physical activities to participate in. However, at home, she deploys these phrases in basically every situation where we tell her no. “No you can’t put muffins in the hot oven,” is met with “it’s my body, I can choose.” When, “I know you want to wear your red dress, but it’s in the wash” set her off on a “but I get to do what feels good in my body” tirade, I tried explaining that getting to decide what feels good in one’s body is only for certain situations. But I totally failed at clarifying this to her satisfaction. Any advice?

Signed, Associate Justice of the Preschool Supreme Court. 

Virginia

I love this kid so much. I’m also raising two of these kids. I just feel you because I have had this thrown back at me over toothbrushing. And oh my god, hair brushing! Don’t get me started on the nightmare that is hair brushing in my house.

So I don’t know that I have really good advice because I feel like this is maybe just part of raising someone with body autonomy. Four is an age where they are going to push back. They’re going to start making these arguments. You kind of have to just roll with it, because it’s all part of them getting this autonomy.

Obviously, I get that you didn’t want her to put the muffins in the hot oven and that you cannot take a wet dress out of a washing machine to be worn. These lines also get used over things like car seats or shots, where we have to do this for health and safety.

But often, when my kids throw this at me, I try to take a moment and think, “How can I give them a little more control over the situation?” Sometimes I am trying too hard to control something. Is it the end of the world if they go to school with tangled hair? Probably not.

It comes up a lot with seasonally appropriate dressing. This morning, I suggested that 27 degrees was a morning to wear a hat and mittens and maybe even legwarmers over your leggings to the bus stop. And one of my children felt strongly it was not that weather. But then we got out to the bus stop, she was very cold and very unhappy about it. While it was, of course, not the most fun little journey we went on, I was like well, body autonomy means you get to decide if you’re cold but it also means you can learn from the experience of being cold at the bus stop. Sometimes just giving up and letting them get it wrong can be really helpful. Because maybe they will make a different choice or maybe they will just be cold a lot of the time but that’s okay.

What are your thoughts about this?

Corinne

It just comes down to how much you want to argue, I guess? 

Virginia

Well, and there’s no winning an argument with a preschooler. 

Corinne

Or how much time or energy you have to put into having a discussion about it. 

Virginia

I do think with something like the hot oven, or shots at the doctor, seatbelts—you can have a conversation where you say, “When your health and safety is at stake, grownups who love you make decisions about your body. You are in control of your body, but you’re also a kid and we take care of you. If you’re going to do something that’s dangerous, we have to stop you. But we will always look for as many opportunities for you to have control in that situation.

With the muffins in the hot oven, could she—even if you’re the one putting the tray in the oven—could she open and close the door for you? Can she preheat the oven and turn the light on and watch the timer and have some other ownership about the experience? With shots at the doctor’s office, they can pick which arm it goes in. They can pick if they want to sit on your lap or not. Claire Lerner, who is a child psychologist I really love, always talks about how you give them two great choices. So you have to do X, but under the umbrella of This Is Happening, you can choose a couple of things.” And I think that can can definitely help.

Otherwise, just be really proud! You’re doing a great job and your kid is going to be awesome at life. This is the price we pay for encouraging them to be in charge of their own bodies. 

Corinne

It does seem like the benefit of teaching them about that probably outweighs the really annoying moments. Hopefully, in the long run. 

Virginia

I would love teeth brushing and hairbrushing to be less sources of strife in my life.

I can read the next one:

I noticed that when I see myself in a mirror outside my own home, in a public restroom or whatever, I look way fatter than I did at home—sometimes only 20 minutes earlier. Does this ever happen to you? And what do you think is going on? It can feel so upsetting to leave home feeling pretty okay with myself only to be floored by disappointment.

Continue reading this post for free, courtesy of Virginia Sole-Smith.

Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith
The Burnt Toast Podcast
Weekly conversations about how we dismantle diet culture and fatphobia, especially through parenting, health and fashion. (But non-parents like it too!) Hosted by Virginia Sole-Smith, journalist and author of THE EATING INSTINCT and the forthcoming FAT KID PHOBIA.