Faith everyone’s got it, everyone thinks they’ve got it right. I’m no different. However, I believe faith is a very private thing. One of my favorite tenets of Christianity is do not judge. This is a really hard one. Hard because we don’t want to judge yet we cannot seem to resist the urge to critique or slam someone else. For example: fat is a big deal in my family apparently.
I have always been just a wee bit above the body fat percentile for my age group and I will let you know that no one in my family let me forget that. However, it wasn’t because I ate differently or more than the relatives it was because I believe that my genetic makeup was more closely in line with my father’s side than my mother’s side. For example – if you look around on my mother’s side – you’d be hard pressed to find someone that looks like me – that includes my mother.
However, if you take a gander at a photo of my dad – you get it. He was a tall man who though not fat, wasn’t exactly Manute Bol either (skinny and lanky.) And if you take a look at his mother and sister (both have passed) good grief!They were, to put it kindly more than Rubinesque (morbidly obese.) Imagine being a kid and being told by your mother if you eat that you’re going to look like your grandmother. Yikes!
"You don’t want that do you?" I spent my entire childhood being afraid that that one last chicken Mcnugget would turn me into Grandma Carolyn. Oh she was exceptionally beautiful, her husband (my grandfather,) a retired Army veteran adored her and waited on her hand and foot. I wanted that. And still do. The husband not the weight that is.
Their Adams Morgan home was impeccable. Because my dad is deceased my mother and I didn’t visit as much as we should have. But when we did they doted on me and In their bright red kitchen I was served homemade cakes, dinners and cornbread that was sweet and fluffy just like cake. The garden where they grew collard greens was in the back yard.
I loved the Bennett’s but I also had a healthy fear of inheriting the weight problem my grandmother and my aunt Ruth shared. Needless to say I was hurt by the comments my mother’s family made about the Bennett’s. My mom’s dad (who was really skinny) used to laugh and say to me “You keep eating like that you won’t get a husband.” I think I was 12 when I first heard that. And it stuck. The comment that is. On occasion my mother and grandmother will still remark, “Do you want to get fat?” At just about every thing they deem unhealthy to eat.
The irony is... neither is really thin (size 8) and they eat exactly what they want to… rarely if ever exercising (my grandmother does occasionally walk.) How do I feel about this insensitivity? For years I swallowed it because, well, in a Southern family rebutting isn’t really appreciated. Now, I laugh it off though I acknowledge that these remarks are unjustified and just plain mean. I now know that its useless to speak to senior citizens about the harsh things they say because they’ve been doing it for so long its ingrained.
Its best just to let it ride and have a little giggle. Not because what they said is funny but because you now have the common sense and experience to know better. I especially love it when people interject religion into their rude diatribe. I hope that with everyday I can grow to be a more understanding and less rude and insensitive person.
I know, at times I probably have missed the mark and there will be times when I continue to do so. However as a person who has had people comment on my weight all of my life I will especially be cognizant of how words can hurt people. The great part is I have control. I can choose to be a size 12 (full disclosure I’ve been larger in past years) for the rest of my life or lose weight. It’s up to me. Not because I want to stop the familial comments about my weight, but because I choose what’s best for me, including the people I choose to have in my circle. Today I choose to be healthy and to surround myself with people who are supportive.
Family is just that. You cannot control the circle you were born into, however you can augment your family with friends who create healthy balance in your life by being infinitely more accepting, tolerant, understanding and kind. And moreover, you must have faith in yourself, something bigger and not just your big girl jeans.
Published On: May 03, 2010