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I woke up to someone softly pinching the flab on my upper arm.
When I opened my eyes I saw a tiny cyclops staring at me, nose to nose. "Good morning, Mama!"
"Good morning, Sweetie. What are you doing?" Now Katie was lying to my side, pinching under her own arm.
"Mama, how come I'm not fat?" she asked in her philosophical five-year-old voice.
Since Katie was born my body has turned to a mound of flab, but my brain is quite fit with all these early-morning exercises she puts me through.
"Because you eat just the right amount of food and get just the right amount of exercise for your body," I explained, holding back a yawn.
"But I want to be fat!" She exclaimed, stabbing at her skinny arms.
I laughed and then immediately regretted it when she shot me the look: This is serious, Mother.
"Why do you want to be fat?" I asked, rolling over to drape my flabby arm across her warm body.
"So I can be like you!" Her face was right next to mine on the pillow. Fresh and young and vibrant. She kissed my lips so gently I didn't feel any sting from her words.
This is not the first time Katie has talked about my fat with utter glee. One time she pointed out to me, "Mama, you have the biggest bottom in our ENTIRE family!" as if I had won some kind of prize.
With my history of anorexia and disordered eating, I must tread lightly on this subject. My goal in life, and I know it's a lofty one, is to raise my daughter to escape our society's epidemic of body dysmorphic disorder. When she's old enough to comprehend them, I'll recommend she read the books that have helped me with my struggles, Health at Every Size®, Fat is a Feminist Issue, When Food is Love. For now, she can learn from my example.
This morning in bed, I thought for a moment I should explain that not everyone in our society thinks it's such a great thing to be fat. But I gave that thought a rest. She'll figure it out soon enough on her own. Instead, I mimicked her gentle kiss and said, "I'm flattered you want to be like me, Sweetie. But you are you. You are part of me and part of Daddy but all yourself. Your body is just right for you."
A lesson I hope to some day believe myself.