The Power of Language
Between the ages of 8 and 10, I was fat, except, even back then, the word fat wasn’t acceptable so I was husky. I knew that I was husky for three reasons. First, I had to wear pants that were branded as Husky jeans. Second, Husky was actually the name of the clothing section in which we shopped. In fact, it was written in big, block letters on the wall above that section of the store. Third, my pediatrician told me that I was husky and recommended a
prison torture camp weight loss program, Husky Camp.
prison torture camp weight loss program was run by individuals who had clearly been trained by the Khmer Rouge. The weekly meetings started with each us being weighed - in front of the other kids. Our weight was recorded and then one of the prison guards staff members announced how much weight each one of us had gained or lost for the week. Next, we took turns reading our food and exercise diary for the previous week, being critiqued by the staff members (“Yay! Great food choice.” or “Oh, dear. You opted for the ranch dressing. We must make smarter and better choices, Husky Campers.”) as we read. Lastly, the warden lead dietician discussed that week’s weight loss/exercise topic.
This format might be acceptable for adults; however, for a room of ten year old children it was incredibly degrading and humiliating, especially if you had an “up” week (one in which you gained weight). At this point, I should say that I don’t blame the parents. They were told this program was ground breaking and absolutely necessary to save their kids from a lifetime of obesity. The parents really didn’t know any better as these types of programs for kids were in their infancy. Without any reference point, the parents were somewhat blind to the emotional horror this format inflicted on children. However, after about four months, many of the parents began to catch on to how destructive this camp was and participants began dropping out.
Not surprisingly, I’m came to loathe the word husky even though it was supposed to imply that you weren’t fat, just under-tall and would probably grow up to be a football player. Who didn’t want to be a football player? Right? While adults happily deluded themselves with this definitional nonsense, classmates and peers were not fooled. They knew husky meant fat and they rarely let you forget it.
Two recent events brought these memories roaring back like a tidal wave. While shopping for school clothes, I noticed a stack of kid jeans that were labeled “Husky”. (See picture.) I was astonished to see that this term is still around after nearly 35 years. Additionally, the after school program for my kids’ elementary school is called Husky House. (See graphic.) This name, in my mind, conjures up images of a
fat farm weight loss resort. Kindergarten is only a half day program so the boys will be attending Husky House two afternoons a week. When I toured the facility I couldn’t help but look for hidden scales or other weight loss clinic materials. Thankfully, I didn’t spot any. Apparently, it’s called Husky House because the school mascot is a husky.
Still, I’m beginning to think that I shall never fully escape that f*cking word: husky, husky, husky.
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- sweetcarolinealine likes this
- thesahmmy likes this
- dollywantacracker likes this
- bumbleeebeees said:Husky is a horrible word.
- kaboolieandme likes this
- ringaring-aroses likes this
- how2beadad likes this
- theramblingark said:I was never called husky, but now that I am an adult and need to lose a few pounds (which is not a fact lost on me) it drives me nuts when they say our little guy is “just like Daddy” because he is bigger than his peers. Ugh.
- thesassyprince said:oh my gosh. Im sorry for your experiences, it definitely must of been traumatic. I can’t believe they still use that term. And why in the heck is an after school program named that?
- thesassyprince likes this
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- andimthedad said:words suck sometimes.
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- rockthecradle-rocktheboat said:My maiden name is Husky. I hate it! A dog breed shouldn’t be a last name OR a size description.
- mommaofboys likes this
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- togetbackhomeward said:Oh yeah, when I worked at the Gap, we had “husky” jeans for boys and “plus” jeans for girls. I hated having to sell these pants to the parents when the kids were with them, because their no good way to talk about it without hurting the kids. I’m glad to see options, but not…
- electradaddy posted this
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