Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy…was he?
Why can I still recite this nursery rhyme by heart even though I’m 25-years-old now?
Because I have hairy arms and my mom unwittingly drilled the rhyme into my head by teasing me about being her little “fuzzy wuzzy.” Yeah, kids remember what their parents said to them. I’m a testament to that.
But even I thought the Babble.com advice columnists who discouraged a lady against calling her toddler “Chubby Chubs” and “Greedy Guts” were overreacting.Babble’s columnists, Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, cautioned Greedy Guts’ mom to choose her terms of endearment more judiciously. I know they mean well, but I think they’re misguided by validating “chubby” as an insult and a word that shouldn’t be used.
In fact, I think their advice will just contribute to the problem of size-ism:
“In our culture, we have complicated feelings about being ‘chubby.’ Especially when it comes to girls……You may really mean this all in playful adoration of your daughter’s abundance. But it’s worth taking this opportunity to think about whether there might be something else going on. Are you afraid she will be fat? Do you have anxiety about your own weight? Most women do. We live in a very thin-obsessed and incredibly unhealthy culture when it comes to body image. It’s understandable that you’d want to protect your daughter from potential angst. Perhaps using those names somehow makes you feel like you’re fighting back against all that pressure. If that’s the case, we applaud your intention, but as she grows, you might consider something less easily misinterpreted. It’s true that she’s young now, but she’s learning every day. Why not start early with more positive messages?”
True, the word “chubby” is usually used positively and chubby people sometimes aren’t living a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes chubby people are healthy. And sometimes words that are “supposed” to be insults can be reclaimed—yes, even “chubby” or “fat.” It sounds like this mom is calling her toddler daughter Chubby Chubs affectionately, as a term of endearment. What’s wrong with that?
If you teach a kid that something about them is bad, then they’ll believe something about them is bad. It’s possible for parents to teach their kids to “own” whatever it is society tells them is not good about their bodies, whether it’s pudge, glasses, crooked teeth, ADD, depression, or Megan Fox‘s creepy toe-thumbs. It’s better if kids can laugh about it—like I can laugh about my arm hair, which I realized was sort of silly and bear-like as a young kid. (Full disclosure: I once tried to shave it off in middle school, along with my armpit hair, after some students teased me about being hairy. But my arms grew back so stubbly that I left them alone ever since. Now I just embrace my fur, because it’s part of who I am!)
All that being said, Chubby’s mom should cool it with the cutesy nicknames as the kid gets older—say, when her girl goes to kindergarten. Don’t say it in front of her daughter’s classmates, lest “Chubby Chubs” actually get wielded as an insult. A mom lovingly teasing a little girl for vacuuming up her Goldfish crackers is entirely different than a mean-spirited little five-year-old girl socially shunning a classmate as she calls her the same thing! At home, though, I think she can be loving and affectionate AND teach her daughter that she’s beautiful just the way she is, baby fat and all.
Hopefully as Chubby Chubs gets older, if someone does try to insult her about her weight, she’ll be able to say, “Yeah, so what” because she knows it isn’t something to be ashamed of.
I don’t have any kiddies, though. What do you all think?