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the F word

By Mirra Ghosh

You know you’ve said it. Out loud. In public. And in front of your children.

In fact we all say ‘the F-word’ over and over again without realizing it.

It is more than just one word however, and these obscenities hide in our conversations every day, affecting the way our children grow up, think, and feel about themselves.

“She’d look better if she wasn’t Fat.”

“If you eat that much Food, you’ll explode!”

“Finish it!”

In the way that we use them, these are not safe F-words. So how do we know when we’re swearing? And what do we say instead?



As a culture that has seen its fair share of poverty, we are strongly opposed to wasting food. You must Finish what’s on your plate.

But when you fill a child’s plate with an amount YOU deem appropriate, and then Force him to Finish it, you are teaching him how to work against his natural body signals of stopping to eat when full.

This is how you grow up an adult who has no problem stuffing your face even though you’ve eaten way past an amount that’s healthy.

Force Feeding (the Mother of all F-words, and most commonly practiced by mothers)

When you Force a child to eat, you kill his ability to listen to his body’s inner signals, and instead he begins to listen to you. Although you may think this an achievement, you are instilling an unhealthy food pattern in your child.

It is as babies and children that we are most in tune with our bodily instincts. In fact children are more accurate in consumption of their healthy daily calorie intake than most adults, IF THEIR SIGNALS ARE HEARD.

If you carefully observe your child, you will see that she eats the right amount she needs given the amount of energy she burns. But we are so obsessed with feeding our children the ‘right’ amount at the ‘right’ time that we are actively killing the natural body signals they were born to listen to.

Children eat in a random manner, and will not eat consistent amounts. Let them be. A hungry child will always cry or ask for food eventually—AT THE TIME HE IS HUNGRY.

Just as you stop breastfeeding your baby when she turns her face away, you really do have to listen to your child when she says she’s had enough, even if you don’t agree. Continually forcing your children to eat can cause them to develop a serious aversion to food.

Fat, Fat, Fat (the favorite F-word)

“I can’t wear that. It makes me look Fat.”

“I feel so Fat in this.”

We are Fat obsessed. Even when we are an average healthy weight for our height we think we’re Fat. Size zero has starved us of our common sense.

The more you talk about ‘feeling Fat’, the more your child thinks this is important. But the most important thing to recognize, and to remind your child, is that ‘Fat’ is not a ‘feeling’. The real feelings behind a statement like ‘I feel Fat’ are more than likely related to some other issue: sadness, loneliness, low self-confidence, etc.

Talk about these real issues with your child. If you can develop the inner child, she will naturally grow up healthy on the outside. Crucial to this is the acceptance of different body sizes. Not by your child, but by YOU.

A sentence like “She would look so much more attractive if she lost some weight” is loaded with swear words. Instead talk about how people come in all shapes and sizes, and how each person’s unique personality helps to enhance these characteristics.

But to fight the importance of Fat, you have to let go of it yourself. In every single instance that you want to use that word, think about the direct and indirect message you will be sending your child.

How do we stop swearing?

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3 Responses to the F word

  1. Steve john November 14, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    When I first saw the title of this article I had no idea that it was talking about fat. At first I wasn’t going to continue reading but after reading the first paragraph I became hooked. This subject is an important subject in life. Because this involves empathy. Reading this article made me think about many things. Just by calling someone fat, think about the affect it has on them and think about the way that they would think of YOU, as a person.
    Empathy is a basic idea in life, it is what gets us through most things. Just before you say anything you should learn that you can’t just let things blurt out of your mouth, it doesn’t work that way. And it doesn’t help with anything in life. In this article, it’s an exception the fact there are kids makes the person laugh at them rather than take what kids say seriously. But sometimes, depending on your self-esteem the people might take it the other way.
    This article caught my eye because life is about thinking about others just as well as you think about yourself, and think about what you would be putting your kids through if you teach them that they can just eat continuously and not even think about it, because then they are going to grow up to think that’s how life is, just eating and your not even hungry. So, this article shows many different ideas.

  2. Su min Khang November 14, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Su min Khang
    November 14th, 2010
    Period 1
    I also think telling children that eating is crucial to their health is important. Most parents educate their children about food in a wrong way. They make their children to eat by forcing them. This will make them not to listen to their body’s inner signal, which will lead to serious aversion to food. In addition, there are parents who tell their children that they are getting fat. Many parents think that this will make their children realize how eating healthy food and maintaining their weight is important.
    I totally agree with this article because my parents use the word “fat” a lot. This makes me not to have confidence with my body. I always have to think what I’m eating and have to calculate the calories every day. My parent doesn’t force me to eat and also doesn’t force me to be on a diet. But they always remind me about getting “fat these days.” For example, when I eat one piece of chocolate cake at 11 pm, they say not to eat it because I have to worry about getting fat. If I ask my friends if I’m fat or not they always say, “You are not even close to being fat!” I’m thinking about having confidence in my body, and stop thinking about how much calories I eat a day. I should enjoy eating delicious food and also many fruits and vegetables.
    Even though my parents are quite strict in what I am eating, I think they taught me well in what to eat every day to stay healthy. When my mom cooks a meal for me, she always added both meat and vegetables since I was little. So I have no aversion to vegetables. I like every single kind of food and really do enjoy having a meal with my family. My parents also educated me by always reminding how food is important. They used to tell me that I should try to finish my meal for my health.
    Every parent in the world should be careful in what they are saying about food in front of their children. They should try hard to educate them about what they should eat a day. But they shouldn’t be too strict about eating unhealthy food. It’s okay to eat it two or three times a week.

  3. Sally dreams November 14, 2010 at 7:41 am #

    When I first read the article, “The F Word” the first thing I thought about was “what f word?” like why would someone write about it. But throughout the article, I realized that what the author is saying is true. Its important to teach your kids that its not really a nice thing to call people fat. Even though their kids, it is a little rude. Because when you think about it and put yourself if their shoes, being called fat by anyone is a self esteem issue. And it helps lower your self-esteem towards everything.

    In a way, this is a little empathetic, because reading this article actually requires thinking about it, and putting yourself in someone’s shoes. If you see someone that is fat, even if you’re thinking anything, just before you say something think. Just like the quote “think before you speak.” Especially for girls being fat or thinking that being fat is a big part of their life. Some people don’t know that everybody has their own body structure and somebody else’s body can be totally different then others. Teaching your child this will help them a lot growing up and not wanting to be like the zero sized models.

    I also agree that when you force-feed your kids you are just telling to keep eating even though they are full. They are human beings and they cant live without food so they are bound to eat anyways. So force-feeding them will just teach them to ignore there inner signals and eat even though they are full. Forcing them to finish there plate is also not a good idea. I think finish should be a part of the f-words because from personal experience it was a big part of my childhood. I remember being told that I couldn’t leave the table until I finished my plate.

    Reading this article helped me realize things that I haven’t really thought about before. How words and statements can affect a person so much without you even knowing. Also the things that your parents have told you might be completely wrong and that it just makes you feels worse. I think more people should read this article. It really opened a lot of things to me and interested me in many ways.

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