My daughter is only 3, but I’m already worried about body image issues. I’m sure I think about it so much because it’s something I’ve had issue with my entire life, and it starts young. My Grandfather was never one to mince words made a point of telling me when he thought I was getting fat – I think I was maybe 8 years old? Even my mom made comments a few times about my size in my preteen years, when I no longer spent all day outside riding bikes with friends, and started spending more time on the couch in front of the TV. Maybe she had a point, but how about asking me to go for a walk or a bike ride instead? I think a lot about my daughter’s level of activity and hopes to have her involved in active programs that she enjoys. My husband and I both work out and hopefully provide good examples of being active and moderately healthy. But I never gave much thought to other outside examples.
Last week, we took our daughter to tour her new daycare. She’ll be moving there because the same building will be her home school and it just makes sense to get her comfortable ahead of time. Anyway, we saw the room they play in and met the teachers, then went outside with her soon-to-be classmates for playtime. While out there, once of the teachers who we just met and will figure prominently in my daughter’s day was commenting on the kids and looking at them with proud, happy eyes (which I appreciated). She started to speak about one little girl in particular and referred to her as, “my little chubby chub.” And I was like – what did she just say? I knew I heard right, when I looked at my husband and his reaction mirrored my own.
To be fair, she didn’t mean it maliciously, in fact it came out as a term of endearment if anything. There was a cultural difference, so I wonder if this teacher just straight up doesn’t know that’s not something to say about a kid’s body? And not the point, I know – but this kid wasn’t even chubby! I was taken aback and didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. This was a person I’d just met and didn’t feel like I knew her well enough to comment. If this were my old daycare, I would have sent an email to the person who runs it and asked about it. But alas, this new place doesn’t have e-mail (it’s 2016, people!)
So if I want to bring it up, I have to do it over the phone or face to face – and it was almost a week ago, is it too late to be bringing it up now? Am I overreacting by wanting to say something? Usually I try to not to be a hyper-reactive parent, but when I think about kids hearing a nickname like that, my heart breaks for the kid and I worry that my kid will think it’s ok to say. I definitely don’t want that. Should I say something? Or wait and see if I hear it again? Fellow parents, what would you do?