I woke up the day after my daughter’s 9th birthday party with sleeping kids in the next room. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to get some work done so we could do some tie-dye later that day.
One thing I try to do on a regular basis is check my viral Pinterest pins and answer any reader questions or leave comment on the pictures people have left me of their own attempts at our crafts or recipes. Usually, it’s standard questions, people giving their opinions on the recipe or craft, and of course, the occasional criticism.
These criticisms have ran the gamut from the completely fair “I didn’t like this recipe,” to people telling me “You’re giving Americans diabetes and going to hell.” After 7 years of sharing our travels, recipes and crafts online, I’ve developed a bit of a thicker skin and try to just respond nicely or move on – though I sometimes can’t help but give a bit of sarcasm back to the troll-ish comments.
However, this Monday, I came across several comments on an edible slime post calling my daughter “fat,” “on the bigger side,” and “disgusting.”
We share edible slimes as a fun alternative to glue-based slimes. We’ve been making slime since 2012 and even have a professionally published slime book. While I prefer glue-based slimes, edible slimes allow parents to meet the needs of a wide variety of children – and we never encourage them as a snack! It’s more of a safe alternative if you have a mix of ages or developmental stages and have any concern that one of your children may “taste” slime. (It’s better for them to taste a slime made of melted marshmallows than one made of glue.)
When we make an edible slime video, my daughter Ella usually takes a bite out of the slime to show that they are edible. We’re having fun and giving readers the “social proof” that these slimes are what we say they are. It’s silly and innocent.
Reading those comments, I felt so many emotions.
I was angry. Mama bear came out strong and I was furious that multiple people had either said or “liked” such awful comments about a child – my child.
I was disgusted. Seriously, what kind of grown adult bullies a child? Whether that comment is directly to a child or said online, it is bullying a child.
I was heartbroken. While I’m aware we live in a broken world, the thought of my daughter one day reading these comments broke my heart. The potential impact of these words is so awful and damaging, and it’s overwhelming to think of the task ahead of me to prepare her for this.
To the women who called my daughter fat and disgusting,
I only know a snippet of you. I know a single sentence that each of you chose to put into the world about a five year old girl.
When a video of a young child playing with marshmallow slime came across your Pinterest feed, you made a choice. You chose to stop, made a hateful comment and hit “comment.” You chose to not only have a hateful thought about a 5 year old girl, you accepted it as truth and felt it necessary to share it. One of you also made the comment “to” my daughter – saying “you’re disgusting.”
My first instinct, as a mom who loves and is meant to protect her child, was to hate you. To give right back to you the hate that you gave my child.
But that just perpetuates a dark cycle.
I know that this darkness and hate that you gave came from somewhere. That there was a time in your life that someone communicated hateful, awful things to you and they became part of the fabric of who you are.
I know that people who judge another person by their appearance must feel incredible pressure to be perfect in their own appearance. My heart breaks for you that you don’t know that your looks are the least of who you are. Your worth is not dictated by a mirror or a scale – or by approving or disapproving comments from strangers or loved ones.
I am angered that this darkness was impressed upon you – likely, by someone who had it impressed upon them. But you’re capable of breaking that cycle, and I hope that instead of choosing to put more vitriol and pain into the world, that you make the harder choice and rise above it.
And no, it’s not easy. I know. I was born into a violent, cynical household. I saw and experienced the darkness of mental illness, addiction and PTSD, and at some point in my life I had to make a choice: to perpetuate that intergenerational cycle, or to break it and create something new. I’m not perfect and it’s not easy forging a new path, but I’m proud of the words I speak to others and the impact I have on the world around me. I am truly happy in myself and the love and positivity that I give to the people around me comes back to me tenfold.
Our words and our thoughts have the power to not only shape our world, but to shape the worlds of others. People can do incredible, amazing things when they feel empowered and built up. I have been lucky enough to see this firsthand and it is a gift that keeps on giving. Loved people love people. Empowered people empower people.
That is the cycle that I want to perpetuate.
I hope your heart breaks for your former self. For the person who had such darkness towards a child and who wanted to cause such damage. That you allow yourself to feel the hurt that was inflicted upon you that caused this – and that you heal and let lightness in.
Maybe for you, the path will be faith, or self-discovery, or self-improvement. But I hope you take the opportunity to look at this darkness in you and know it has to go. Choosing love is so much more powerful.
As for my daughter, I will continue having hard conversations with her about the darkness of this world and am trying to prepare her to meet it with strength and love. To forgive people who don’t ask for or deserve our forgiveness. I am scared that words like yours will damage her – we all know that the impact on a (now 9 year old) girl hearing that others think she is fat and disgusting could be truly devastating.
I hope my words reach you – or others like you who have put out hateful comments to others. You may scoff and click away at first, but I hope my words sink in and slowly wear away at the hard shell you’ve had to build around your heart. I know you are capable of being better than you were in the moment that you left that comment, and I hope it becomes outnumbered by the amount of positive, loving things you choose to do with your energy and your words going forward.