Last week I ran into Walmart to grab groceries for the week. Now, I do not often go to Walmart, because even though they are considerably less expensive than the other two stores I frequent, for whatever reason Walmart gives me a level of social anxiety that I have never experienced anywhere else. However on this day, my teenager and I took a few minutes to run in and fill our cart with healthy foods for the week. I was standing at the eggs opening cartons looking for a full dozen of clean, unbroken eggs (which I could not find by the way – but that is another topic) when I heard a little voice behind me “Mama, she has a BIG BUTT!” As I turned around I saw your mom looking at me – and your little finger outstretched in my direction. I quickly turned and pushed my buggy away – abandoning my hunt for eggs. I finished my shopping as quickly as I could and got out of there. I somehow managed to get my groceries home and unpacked and myself out of sight from my daughters before the tears began… and continued for the rest of the night.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that you reduced me – a nearly 36-year-old mother of two who has built an international business coaching women to be successful, teaches six fitness classes a week and currently has seventeen medals hanging behind her from events that she has completed in the last two years alone – to tears, but you did. You see, little one, you found my button. My trigger. My biggest insecurity. And just as your little, outstretched finger pointed at my “big butt” – it pressed that button inside of me. Your innocent rudeness shook me to my core, and now even days later, tears roll down my face at the memory.
At first, I was angry at your mother, because I do not think we are born seeing people as “fat” – nor do we see them as black or white or rich or poor, even though a lot of people on social media would like you to think so. But then I think back to my own daughters and some of the things they have said and realize (hope?) she was probably just as shocked as I was. You, in your naive, innocent wonder were simply pointing out the obvious, the same way you would point out a plane or flower or anything else you saw and recognized. Today it just happened to be me. I was too shocked to reply, too hurt to take a breath and let it be a teaching moment – maybe for all three of us. Here is what I wish I had been able to say:
Yes, sweetheart, I do have a big butt – you are very smart – unfortunately, that is what happens when you stop eating properly and do not exercise regularly. Let this be a lesson for you to always treat your body as the temple that it is, and do not take your health – or your metabolism – for granted. It is far easier to keep your body healthy than to have to work to regain a healthy body – both inside and out. I know, because I have done both. Create healthy habits of drinking water – not soda – and eating fresh, fun colorful foods – not stuff out of a box or can. Never – ever – stop running, never stop playing, never stop laughing. Do not take the easy road of fast food and restaurants, instead, learn to cook and enjoy what creations you can make. And when you choose to have little blessings of your own, do not let these healthy habits fall by the wayside, but instead nourish yourself and your little growing miracle in the best way possible.
But if you do someday find yourself with a “big butt” too, just know that it is not permanent, and you can recreate good habits that will make you healthy again – but it is a process and does not happen overnight. Be easy with yourself if it happens, and do not beat yourself up – that will only defeat your progress. Surround yourself with people who are working to improve themselves too, as they may be the only ones who understand when you make huge changes in your life – like getting healthy when you have been unhealthy for so long. Strive to be healthy and happy and be your best friend instead of your own worst enemy. If you can do that, no matter what size your butt ends up being, you will live a happier life.
I have had a few days to process this, and while it still stings deeply, I am very glad this situation happened. In fact, I wish I could thank you for saying just exactly what you said and when you said it. See, even though I work out a LOT, run several times a week, and eat well most of the time… I have not been as committed as I should be – and I have been beating myself up for it for a very long time. I notice my “big butt” a lot too, and while having a big butt may be “in” right now thanks to the Kardashians, it is (and always has been) a huge insecurity for me. However for whatever reason I have still struggled with the commitment to change, struggled with the dedication to lose it, struggled with the willingness to stay dedicated to my health regardless of all else. I can make all of the excuses that my butt is big because I am a runner, because I do a zillion squats in my classes, or because of genetics… but the truth is I am still a solid thirty pounds overweight, and it needs to come off. Maybe this was the push that I needed to be more committed and to change my habit of yoyoing back and forth from healthy to unhealthy, and finally – FINALLY – achieve true “happy.” Maybe I needed to learn the lesson as well.
I am certain you will never read this – I doubt seriously that you even know what a blog is. And while I hope that your Mom may someday read this, I know that the reality is that she will not. But I hope maybe that putting this out into the universe that the lesson will still land in your sweet little heart somehow, and that you will heed my warnings to focus on your health as a priority in your life as much as your family and your job, and never let yourself be in a position where standing in a store, you are reduced to tears over the honesty of one delightfully outspoken little girl.