Healthy Living

Gordito… how cute! Little fattie… not so much.

Gordito. Gordo hermoso. If you are from any Latin American or Caribbean country, chances are you have used these terms of endearment to refer to babies, because the more “gorditos” they are the more adorable their cheeks are to pinch. I have had a number of friends post things on Facebook, “que bello tu gordito” “que gordo hermoso” ,etc. I never really question it, to me it was just a term of endearment. … that is, until my husband translated it to French. Turns out “PETIT GROS” doesn’t sound that cute in French. (It doesn’t sound great in English either— “little fat man” or “little fattie”) . My husband truly detests this term, so abuela & abuelo have gotten instructions to refrain from saying “gordito” to my son.

The reason I bring this up is because I recently read an article on NBC Latino  about a young teen who was called “Gordito” when he was little— and he literally was— he was 120 pounds by the time he was 7 years old. Bert says his family always saw him as big and healthy and never questioned his weight or acknowledged he was overweight. This made me think about the cultural idea we as Hispanics have about being gordito (“a little chubby”). I have had people say to me that Baby E is not gordito— is he healthy? Is he eating enough? Now, it is true, my son is not chubby, quite the contrary, he is quite lean and active. Baby E was 7 lbs 7 oz when he was born, and he is in the 25th percentile now… hardly anything to call gordito. But yes- he is healthy. He eats enough, I am not starving him, and he is so active that I am sure he consumes a lot of calories in a day.

With all the statistics pointing to the growing obesity epidemic, and diabetes growing among children and teenagers, it is time to acknowledge this is a problem. It is time to rethink our portions, and figure out how we can still enjoy our delicious foods such as empanadas and Plátano maduros, but incorporate more fruits and vegetables, and eliminate some processed foods.

Being in control of health and weight means having access to healthy foods, and being able to afford to purchase these foods. There are many parts of town (usually impoverished areas) where people do not have access to healthy foods, and there are many people that, if given the choice would rather purchase more fast food at a lower price than spend more money on quality fruits and vegetables, There are people that don’t have the option, they HAVE to purchase the least expensive option. It is sad, but it is true. It happens to me— I can choose to spend $2 on a chicken sandwich at a fast food place, or I can buy a salad for $6.95 (plus tax).

This issue is so much more complicated than I can possibly go into in this post.  Awareness is key. People like Bert, who started an online anti-obesity campaign called “Healthy Bert: No Child Left Behind with a Big Behind Foundation” inspire and help people get moving. Today, Bert is a lean 5 foot 11, 150 lb college student who has taken control of his weight and his health. That is something worth celebrating.

Perhaps it is time to rethink our terms of endearment, and realize that discussing weight and acknowledging conditions like overweight or obese is necessary in our communities.

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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