There is no "emotionally healthy" weight loss for kids. (Plus, fat kayakers!!!)
Who knew that watching Parker kayak would make me sob uncontrollably? I have spent so much of my life avoiding fun activities (pool, kayaks, etc.) because I felt like I was too fat to participate. I’m now 47 and don’t give a flip anymore, but the pain of a lifetime of sequestering myself is still there…hence, the sobbing.
I would flip my shit (and a kayak for good measure) on a camp that othered my kid out of an activity in which he wanted to participate because of his size. And then I would send them the video of Parker.
I bought a pool membership this summer, our first in a new town, and was absolutely expecting it to be a hit to the self-esteem every day for three months. Instead, it's the opposite - so many different body types and shapes and sizes all just trying to enjoy the water. I'm glad my 4.5-year-old is seeing it. Of course, I can't guarantee that kids aren't involved in bullying, but I'm not seeing obvious signs of it. Another thing that makes me happy is the variety of swimsuits out there right now - I see adults and kids, thin and fat, in everything from rash guards and board shorts or skirts to bikinis/tiny trunks. I also think for young kids the emphasis on showing skin at the pool is so much less now that rash guards are a part of life, and I hope it makes some people more comfortable in the water - I know it would have made me a very happy teenager to be able to put on a rash guard. Perhaps that sounds bad - feeling fat? cover up! - but to my mind it's more of an equalizer. If everyone's wearing shirts in the pool, wearing a shirt in the pool no longer becomes what you do if you're the fat kid. Add to that not having to slather sunblock on my squirmy kid constantly and I'm a big rash guard fan.
Hear hear hear hear hear!
This kind of attitude — only thin kids are worthy of doing activities they like — is what led directly to my lifelong equation of exercise with punishment. And for icing on the top, it’s counterproductive to what the adults claim to want, for the fat kid to be more active for his health! Cue the endless screaming!
Hi there! I am a smallfat whitewater kayaker. Thanks for sharing the videos. I could be wrong, but I think the writer is asking about a different kind of kayaking than the video shows. The video shows a flat water/recreational kayak.
A whitewater “flip” (likely either a wet exit or a roll) is a bit different, but can ABSOLUTELY be done by fat folks. There is a LOT of anti-fat bias in whitewater sports. I recommend they check out collectives and what are called “clubs”. Happy to answer more whitewater questions :)
I never made sports teams in junior high and early high school as I had a bigger body. I stopped trying after 9th grade. I wasn’t the best athlete but I remember girls who I knew I was better than making the team. I was so pleased by your response to this email. Larger kids are told that they need to shrink to have access to the things that will make them healthy. You can kayak or play basketball but only once you are a thin person. Make it make sense! Thank you for this response.
Got my whole year’s subscription moneys worth from this one. I love ❤️ how clearly you stand up against fat phobia.
This child who wants to kayak is upsetting me so much! This is gonna sound like such a stupid comment, but I’m really not kidding. Watch the new version of Hawaii Five-0. (yes like every mainstream show it is full of thin privileged.) HOWEVER One of the things I always notice is the acceptance in Hawaiian culture of people of many sizes. Hawaii is a and so you have super tiny Asian people and generous tall and wide Hawaiians. And they are intermarried. And they’re all there together. and they’re in boats on surfboards and bathing suits on beaches. Maybe this comment is just about get this child to watch these people. (Mom watch out for acceptable violence level). Being able to flip and recover a kayak is about strength not size. Good grief. Let’s get it together people. let’s get that SURELY bullied little boy some mental health support and some physical training to help him manage his size and his desires.
And if any of my fellow readers are Hawaiian and wish to comment on my comments please do. I speak from my own personal experience having had the privilege of traveling there more than two dozen times.
This is funny and kind and wonderful. Thanks for doing what you do, Virginia!
This one hit me hard. I wanted to step in and advocate for that boy. "What is the name and number for this camp?!!!"
I've been advocating for my fat kid for a few years now and just finished a round of "here's how we're trying to meet your uniform requirements for dance class," which includes some custom pieces so my daughter feels like she looks like/fits in with the rest of her classmates.
So to all the parents that do advocate for your fat kids in their classes, camps, etc... I see you. I'm with you. It's hard and I know you're doing your best. If I'm being honest, advocating for my fat kid often means I run out of energy to advocate for me. They "needed my weight and height" at the ALLERGISTS this week and I was so tired... I mentioned it being unnecessary but was like "ugh fine... whatever" because I didn't have any fight left that day.
So, some rest this week and then we fight on. Virginia - thanks for another great piece.
Very excited about book club! Will start reading now