Friday, December 12, 2008

The thing about "FAT"

This happened in Sydney. I wont reveal who it is but this truly happened and the case kinda wont go away in my head after I was told this story.

A very very young boy (younger than 5) is hauled to the pre-school principal office for bad conduct, so his mum is also sent to face the music from the "authorities" and "counselling board". So what did this little guy do to warrant such a major cry of attention?

He called this girl in his class "Fat".

Before you start thinking he is a bad boy, here is a some further insight. I know this kid and he is a very sweet, well behaved child, more happy to be absorbed playing with his own toys than be running around to mess up things or annoy people. He has a younger sister and he isnt spoilt. His mum is bigger than average woman size and his dad is a very outspoken person.

We questioned his outburst and apparently this girl was annoying him when he just wanted to be alone to play his games. So he told her "Go away you fat girl".

With that, the girl burst out crying, kicking up a stint as if she had been kicked and booted. The teachers were naturally appalled by the "taboo" word being cried out so openly by a little boy's frustration that all hell broke loose. So of course his mum was "invited" to have a chat, and being implied that such callous terms should not be used before the kid and instilled into his head that such sensitive words shouldnt be used on people. In the end, the mum had to apologise profusely to all parties and assured such an incident would not happen again.

Back home, the boy wasnt exactly reprimanded (but had a serious serious "talk" with his parents that night) since he had no understanding of the gravity of the incident. To him, he had merely spoken out innocently what he saw, to rid himself of someone deemed pesky to him. It seemed he had often heard his dad teased his "fat mum" with the word and he didnt see what was so bad about what he did that he had to apologise and be told he had not been good.

The moral of the story, you have to watch what you say before your kids.
The underlining moral of the story, the world has gone nuts when it comes to re-definition of what is right and wrong.

FAT is a taboo word. So under the guise of sensitivity and political correctness, we should just call them HORIZONTALLY CHALLENGED people, GENETICALLY CHALLENGED people, BIG SIZE, OVERWEIGHT, OBESE, or Greedy Guts? However, underneath all those "better sounding" name, it still boil down to one thing. The person isnt slim.

Surely, while inappropriate, it is not a real crime isnt it between spat of 2 young child? Are we overworrying about morals and upbringing here? Parents used to be hauled into office for worse "crimes" little angels did, such as stealing, destructive, distracting, physical bullying and of course taunting and verbal/ mental / emotional bullying. What happened to simple squabbles that is just plain squabbles?

I know its a scary world out there for both adults and kids nowadays, stemming mainly from the lack of attention at home and weak family ties and bond which I still believed as the direct root cause. Parents are too busy working, depending too much on nannies, maids and schools to do the communication of values (if any at all), and yet lacking the delegation of the real power of disciplinary... so many kids get away scot free from young thinking they can bully people into submission ( starting with talking back at maids or demanding them to do their beck and call) , or just self centeredly talk down to other people.

I digress and back to this little boy. He had no bad intention. He wasnt bullying anyone. He was just calling it what he sees it. A fat girl who was annoying him. In his world where it is still BLACK AND WHITE with no grey areas, his words are just a mirror of his childlike simplicity and innocence, something adults pretty much have lost as we deal and maneuver in a world which we complicated ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder. If calling someone fat is a taboo, why isnt calling someone wafer skinny a taboo? Black is a taboo word, white doesnt seemed to be. When have we gotten to used to only wanting to hear disguised pretty words that we no longer can face the truth and starts to scream blue murder when it comes to unpleasant things, and so indignant that neutral words are insulting? Words are not conjure out of air. And words are just words, its the tone and intention that is behind it that matter. Just like if I describe someone as black or sounding black, it doesnt mean I am being racist. It is just a matter of describing what I see or hear. A characteristic. A DNA.

Some people and activist out there should just so get over themselves and stop creating unrest with the unnecessary political correctness game.

I havent been called FAT, though my brother prob had. I have been called names like scrawny, skinny, monkey, walking sticks my whole life by nottie primary school boys and well meaning aunties who keep thinking that I do not eat enough. They would grab my hands, hold my wrists, to demonstrate I am too thin by their definition, as if I am visually challenged and cannot see for myself.
So I have 2 options here. Either to throw tantrums and attack people who used those terms on me and supposedly eroding my self confidence about my appearance in the process, or I had another choice of doing something about it to shut them up and improve what I had. I choose to ignore those critical comments, take part in all my fav sports to look more sun kissed than scrawny. Over years, science informed me I am just genetically blessed,with a higher metabolism rate. The thing is, if you do not like what u are being called, do something constructive about it. Dont bitch about it and BLAME other people for your condition.

The end of the story. This little boy is now tainted. His world is no longer black and white. The first spot of grey has appeared. He now knows but not understand yet, that FAT is a BAD WORD. Lumped together with many other "BAD WORDS" like stupid, dumb, arsehole. He still doesnt quite get what is wrong with FAT as he thinks the girl is round and chubby like marsh mellow anycase. However, he now understand that word is a weapon. He also learnt sensitivity. He learnt the taboo word can hurt someone even though he hadnt intended it that way, and the same word can be said in jest. He learnt some people are ok with it, some people are not. To him, its just a very simple word, but the magnitude of events that comes with it is crushing.

In years to come, the little boy probably wont rem which of this "FAT" incident and I am sure the little girl wont be traumatised by it either. However, I hope that girl does. Not only do I hope someone will start watching her diet, I hope she will learn that in future, there are worse things in life to cry about, something more than just being called Fat, because she had been annoying someone else who didnt want her around.

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