We have an ‘F’ word in our house and it’s probably not the one you are thinking of. From the time my son was old enough to offer running commentary during story time, he has also objected to this word. We refer to the hungry caterpillar as ‘large’ or ‘plump’ but certainly not ‘Fat.’ It’s just not polite and besides, I don’t want him to be so focused on weight and body image at such a young age.
Unfortunately, there is someone who is trying to derail all my good efforts. The irony is she’s someone I liked, someone I trusted to entertain my child with gentle storylines that didn’t involve any violence or superheroes.
This particular character was also ensuring my son heard other English accents that were not my own so that he understood there was a whole country of people who spoke like Mommy.
That person is Peppa Pig and I hereby charge her with fat shaming in the first degree.
“Peppa Pig” is on the surface a delightful British show about a family of pigs. I liked it because it’s just about normal life (you know except that they’re pigs!) The children go to nursery school, their grandparents come over for lunch, mummy works on the computer, they eat dinner, it’s just your regular family life. After enduring all the Transformers, Ninja Turtles and DinoTrux I could handle, “Peppa Pig” seemed like a reprieve.
However, it wasn’t to last, as I soon noticed what a body fascist Peppa truly is.
There is barely an episode that passes without poor daddy pig having his food choices scrutinized, having insults hurled at him and literally being used as a living bounce house.
Peppa and her equally cruel little brother George, jump up and down on daddy’s stomach all the while constantly referring to his “big tummy” and saying he isn’t “fit.”
Although Peppa doesn’t go as far as calling daddy pig “fat” the message is clear, there’s something wrong with his size.
The worst part of their abuse is that everyone thinks its so funny and they all get in on the act with mummy pig and the grandparents all equally being unkind to poor old daddy pig.
I imagine him retiring to his shed of an evening, scarfing chocolate in secret and having a little cry.
Part of the reason why this all seems to be so accepted is that the insults are directed at a male. I think the reaction would have been quite different if a cartoon character was telling her mom that she was too big, but dads have feelings too, and Peppa’s mean little lessons transcend gender, as I was soon to find out.
It really only was a matter of time before my son would try out this particular insult for himself and let me tell you, it did not go down well.
He looked up innocently enough and argued “But Peppa Pig says it.”
I replied, “Then Peppa Pig is quite rude too!”
Mean mommy strikes again! But after twenty or so years of being told subtly and subconsciously by the media that my size is up for discussion and scrutiny, and not so subtly by ex-boyfriends and interfering relatives, I’ll be damned if I am going to be fat shamed by my own child – especially when his very existence is the cause of half of my extra weight gain! I am putting my foot down and daddy pig, you should too.
Bottom line, Peppa: it’s just not cool to make fun of people’s bodies.