Baby Fat

I was listening to the radio the other day and there was a guest speaking about a Fat Acceptance Movement.  She spoke about how diets don’t work, how society judges fat people (she rejects the term ‘overweight’) as lazy and disgusting, and how people are afraid of and feel terrible if they’re not sporting a rock-hard body. 

Although I didn’t agree with everything she said, there was one point that resonated with me: it was her mantra to stop fighting your body and start accepting it.  This reminded me of a workout video I own that stars a supermodel and her trainer, both of which have amazing, gravity-defying, I-didn’t-know-a-stomach-could-have-that-many-packs bodies.  However in the beginning the model states, “I’m never going to have a body like [my trainer] and she’s never going to have a body like mine all I know is…I’m working towards [my] personal best.”   I thought about this and then looked at my daughter.

As this segment on the radio continued, I watched as she joyfully bounced around the living room, shaking her lovely baby lumps so proudly for me to see and I asked myself, ‘Where do we go wrong?’  As women, when do we flip the switch and all of a sudden start wishing our behinds were smaller, thighs tighter, chests perkier?  I was reading through an old journal I was keeping during the summer interim into grade 9 and in one entry I talk about how “my diet will start tomorrow.”  I was 13 and completely normal, what was I thinking?!

Fast-forward a few years to my pregnancy body—I was big and I’m not talking belly big, I’m talking eating-too-many-fries big: I grew all over.  After I delivered I didn’t feel fat. However not being able to fit into my jeans was a huge wakeup call because I remembered that before I got pregnant, when I could fit into my jeans, I had thought I was fat and now, post-partum, all I wanted was to be thin enough to fit into those same jeans again.  All of a sudden my unfair and imbalanced perceptions of fat and thin through the years began to run through my mind and I finally, after many years of battle, called a truce with myself.  I promised myself that from that moment on I wasn’t going to call myself fat anymore and if for no other reason, I intend to uphold this promise for my daughter’s sake.  

Are there days when we’re all going to feel fat?  Of course, we’re only human. However to be able to shake my head now and realize that it is those thoughts that are unhealthy and not the skin I can pinch here and there is a liberation I hope to pass down to my little girl.  Because let’s face it, there’s a whole industry just waiting for her to open her eyes so that they can over-saturate her with unattainable images of young women airbrushed to perfection.  My armor against this?  Well, I can cut off my cable and end my subscriptions to beauty magazines. But if I personally don’t stop buying into the propaganda then my daughter will see this, feel this and sadly, emulate this.  And she deserves better than that because she’s worth it.

Lena Hassan

Lena Hassan lives in Ottowa, Canada. She is mother to one little girl.

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  • mahaezz

    Letting go of that negativity and self-criticism is so difficult, it’s so deeply imprinted in our minds to hate our bodies. I feel sometimes as though women have been robbed of being able to recognize their own unique beauty and strength.

    Great post jazakillah khairan…

  • fatima

    Jak for the article, Lena. We must embrace what Allah SWT has given us, and learn to thank Him for it. Alhamdulillah.

  • mountaineermama

    Sometimes the best incentive for change is doing it for someone you love. We thank Allah SWT for this mercy. JAK for this post.

  • Zainab

    Jak for sharing! A great post, mashaAllah.

  • Aishah

    MashaAllah, awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing. This part, “I watched as she joyfully bounced around the living room, shaking her lovely baby lumps so proudly for me to see” was so adorable it cracked me up!

  • ummossana

    Allahu Akbar!!!! Well said, Lena!!!! JAK!!!

  • dim sum

    lena, this really touches me. JAK for sharing.

  • Sadaf


    Being a mother of two kids aged 4 and 2, and still in the healthy weight range for my age and height, nowadays I almost always find myself brooding upon my weight gain since my marriage – which is less than 25 pounds. I have started calling myself fat even before others say anything. Also, whenever I meet my mom friends once every 6 months or so (when they visit from abroad, where they have moved), the first comment we make to each other is how we’ve gained – or for the more “fortunate” ones, – lost weight.

    I used to be skinny before marriage, despite eating whatever I wanted. I find myself craving to be like that again. It is nothing but a trick of Shaytan to make us yearn for the past to return, even though we know that the past can never come back.

    I find myself scolding my own self for thinking these negative thoughts. A woman should embrace her mother’s body and throw everyone’s ‘oh-you’ve-gained-weight’ comments out the window, where they belong. As long as we do not have unhealthy eating habits or lifestyle, we are fine. The unhealthy, self-depreciating thoughts spurned on by the media’s onslaught of images of skinny young girls in thongs is doing more harm to our mental health than good to our bodies!

    Jazakillahu khairan for this post! :)

  • fatima

    Jak for sharing that Sr. Sadaf. Ameen to what you said! As long as we eat healthy and exercise!

  • eaman

    beautifully written, ma-sha’a Allah!

  • Ikram

    I love you Lena… Jazaki Allahu khair for the advice, i never thought of it that way!