Stories about the 44 pound, ten-month-old “Michelin Baby” are bumming me out.
The poor little big guy, he’s just a baby, and already so much attention on him for being a freak.
This is obviously an extraordinary story—it’s likely he has an underlying health/environmental condition contributing to the weight– but the local coverage is touching on something much more common, our culture’s deep and warped fascination with fatness.
The things people said about my large four week-old baby boy: He was beefy, burly, hefty. A bruiser! A shtarker! He was so young and already an entire personality (thug, glutton) and future (line-backer) had been thrust upon his tiny nursing, arm-flinging newborn self. As a new mom I had no idea what to say.
People talked about his breastfeeding like he was a binge eater. Later my daughter, also on the large side, attracted slightly more euphemistic though similar attention: Wow, she’s buff! She has yoga arms! What a good eater! Neither of my babies ate more or less than they needed. Nor did they play football or do yoga.
I have friends with smaller, thinner babies who felt equally freaked out by comments in the other direction. She’s a pixie, a model, a waif. Dude, she’s eight months old.
I know people are just kidding around when they make these kinds of jokes. And I have heard comments about fat babies or thin babies that are entirely loving and not fraught in the slightest. So much depends on where the comment is coming from, it’s hard to generalize.
But I do dread the day that my kids wake up to the eating-disordered culture they’ve been born into. When I watch my little girl proudly showing her round stomach, I wonder when they will finally get to her. When will she start sucking it in? It’s a certain innocence I long to protect, but know that I can’t.