What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
The F-word is forbidden in my house. I will not stand for such language to spill out of the out of the mouths of my babes. It's a word that I do not tolerate unless it is used in describing a cut of beef. It hurts women daily and that word my friends is: FAT.
We live in a world where the obsession for perfection is overkill -- if a woman is over a size 10 she is now considered plus size; and if your mid-section is not concave you must be fat or pregnant.
Recently I found myself on set for a high fashion magazine shoot doing a junior version with children. Cute, right? (PS -- I am a celebrity hair & makeup artist.) The day was progressing well and the children were totes adorbs. Until midday, when I was touching up one of our 4-year-old little rascals when out of the blue, she turned to me and said: "Auntie*, why you so fat?"
All smiles and good times grind to a halt.
Me, through fake smile, gritted teeth: I am not fat.
Child: Yes, Auntie. You fat.
Me: I am not fat and you are being rude; you don't call people fat.
Child: I am not rude. You fat.
Visions of tummy tucks immediately danced through my head. We were shooting inside the majestic Fullerton Hotel, but I still hid my burning eyes behind my Dolce & Gabanna sunnies and marched over to tattle on little miss sunshine.
Her mother replied: "She gets the influence from the schoolyard. I can't control what she learns there. Besides, she knows that you get a big tummy from eating a lot of ice cream."
I have three daughters. You can bet I had more control of them than the schoolyard did when each of them was four.
Sidebar: Singapore is obsessed with skinny. They have numerous ads in magazines and newspapers on slimming; everything from teas to tablets to slimming spas. I asked my doctor about the slimming products as I found some slimming tea in one of my teenage daughter’s rooms. My doctor said that most of the slimming products advertised cause your body to poop everything out so over time, and excessive intake can cause intestinal issues as well as can lead to eating disorders since they can interfere with the body’s absorption of nutrients. I do not allow slimming products in my house and I tossed my scale years ago since my teenagers were standing on it more than I was.
We broke for pizza lunch and I chose to turn off my makeup lights and cry softly in the corner while texting my BFF Faz. Nothing like a friend nearby to talk you off the emotional ledge.
In defence of the little girl, I am 42 and really shouldn't let myself feel bullied by a 4-year-old. Another defence: In photography if you want something to appear bigger/taller you can simply shoot from a low angle and since Miss Knee-High-To-A-Grasshopper was essentially mimicking the low camera angle, her POV is not the most flattering one even for Kate Moss.
Many of the models in my editorial and campaign shoots that I work on range from 17 to 21 -- occasionally older or even younger, but safe to say that is an industry average placed in front of you setting up unattainable expectations for us, the global norm. We are living in a time where we are criticized ruthlessly for appearance.
I understand how funny that sounds coming from a hair & makeup artist immersed in the fashion industry and I am not suggesting a fashion rebellion; not to mention that I do love what I do –- however I am tired of shooting girls younger than my oldest daughter who are supposed to target me and many of you.
It’s these types of unattainable ideals thrust upon us in the media that get passed down to our little ones.
To me, FAT is a bad word. It's mean. It is an emotional word that hurts no matter how young or old the user is.
True story: I prefer my children (now 18 & 16) to use the word FUCK -- at least you have to use it in conjunction with another word to hurt. That's probably good, since Zoie (5) recently asked if she can say naughty words like me when she is an adult.
*I live in Asia where children are taught to address non-relative adults with respect using Auntie or Uncle. I find this endearing and most times I believe the West could take this respectful addressing on.