Fat Baby in Public
Public transit has been a part of my life since forever. I can remember being so little when I took the bus my mom had to use her arms to keep me from sliding off the slick, vinyl seats when we went around corners. At ten came my first solo bus ride down to the mall to watch a movie with some friends. The bus has gotten me to and from high school, first job, second and third job, dates, university, movies, poetry readings, dances and more. I literally take the bus everywhere. Part of taking the bus everywhere is dealing with all the different kinds of people you’re insulated from when you drive: the overly-chatty person who sits at the front near the driver, the drunks, the smelly people, the loud high school and college kids, the obnoxiously loud high school and college kids who can’t refrain from swearing for five seconds, etc.
On Free Comic Book Day (May the Fourth be with you!), me and the kids were on the long ride from where we live now into Victoria to go to the really big Curious Comics shop in the downtown core. It was a gorgeous sunny day, quite warm already, and we were all in full summer gear — shorts for me and Gabe, a cute sundress for Katherine, hats and sunscreen. Kat’s sundress was a sleeveless number, and because she was sitting in the stroller, it left most of her very chubby legs out for all the world to see. Most people coo over her eyes, her hair, her smile, her overall adorable babyness, and she coos right back. Sometimes I talk with them about her, or their kids, for a little while. Noone comments about what a big baby she is, except to nod a bit when I tell them she’s over 8 months old now. Noone except for the guy at the front of the bus we ended up talking to nearly the whole way.
Gabe was being his usual rambunctious self and Kat was happily kicking away in her stroller while I was semi-making conversation with this guy. Then, out of nowhere, he says “Don’t worry, she’ll outgrow her baby fat.” A dozen different replies flew through my mind:
- What do you mean, don’t worry? Should I be worried because she’s chubby?
- Are you implying there’s something wrong with being fat?
- Mind your own fucking business, pal!
- Babies are supposed to be chubby, it protects them if they get sick or hurt.
- What if she doesn’t?
Instead I settled on “Oh, I’m not worried” with a smile. I should’ve added “I’ll love her no matter what size she is” but I’m not quite that quick. What would you have said? Should I have thrown out some Fat Acceptance facts? Some Health at Every Size® quotes? Maybe I should start keeping a little business card-sized FA/HAES fact sheet in my bag, just in case of future “helpful” comments.