Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fat

Posted by Anonymous.

I love my mother. She understands me better than anyone in the world, because we are the same. She calls me her heart

About eight years ago, I had to tell my mother that I had an eating disorder. I pulled away from her. I didn’t want her to take the news so hard, so I tried to be distant and mean so that maybe she wouldn’t feel it.

I felt embarrassed and guilty. I tried to make it about me.

She approached me, crying. “It’s my fault.” I showed her anger, told her not to be ridiculous and to get her own problem. Stop meddling with mine.

I lied to her. It, of course, was my fault that I was not taking in enough calories. It was my fault that I was throwing up on the hour. It was my fault that I was costing my parents thousands of dollars in therapy bills. It was my fault.

But it was about her, too.

I can remember the first time my mother called herself fat in front of me. I was 4. She had just had my sister, and was depressed. She cried. I understood then that being fat was one of the worst things in the world. It was to be feared and hated. Skinny people were worthwhile. Fat people were not.

I grew up scared to mention anything about my mother’s appearance, even if I thought she looked pretty. I knew what the answer would be: “Oh, my rolls are showing. My butt looks big.” Though she always told me I was beautiful, talented, smart, loved and worthwhile, I knew differently. I, after all, was just like her.

And I felt those feelings festering inside myself. And I hated myself for being weak like her.

I don’t have an eating disorder anymore. I told myself I’d had enough, and I am very careful to eat well, exercise and enjoy everything I denied myself.

The eating comes easily, but the fear still lurks inside.

I cried this morning because I gained five pounds in a month. I just started a new birth control pill. I knew this could happen, and it should not bother me. These things always straighten themselves out.

I am healthy, strong and beautiful. I live with a man I love, and who loves me always. We have a nice home, jobs, family. And I cried over five measly pounds.

I’m scared to get married to the man I love, the man I have lived with for nearly three years, because I’m scared to have children. I want them desperately, but I don’t want to see the click in my daughter’s eyes the first time I slip up and she, too, equates fat with worthless.

I refuse to let this carry on into another generation of beautiful, talented, smart, loved and worthwhile women. But I don’t know how to go about changing. Yet.

The victories come slowly. The first time I looked at myself naked without judging. The first time I bought a swimsuit without sobbing. The first time I went months without weighing myself.

But there’s always the accompanying sweetness of knowing that, maybe, the next one will be the last first time.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I struggle a lot with how not to pass The Crazy on to the next generation, and it makes me afraid to have babies.

The important thing, I think, is to teach self-forgiveness. I hope that my son or daughter learns not that I'm perfectly sane, but that I can recognize my mistakes and forgive myself, and they should too.

In the end, is that what all of The Crazy is about? Not giving ourselves permission to be imperfect and still worthy of love and acceptance?

I wish you peace.

Candy said...

I wish I had read this before raising my own daughter. I've said those words in front of her dozens of times. She's now overweight and has very low self-esteem. How could she not, when she's been told all her life that fat is ugly.

You need to go public with this post. It's very powerful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your words. My daughter is 2. I am going to do my very best to NEVER say these things again. Thank you!

ewe are here said...

It sounds like you've already started the long, hard process of changing your life and your mindset for the better.

While I understand your fear about passing on your feelings of worthlessness based on appearance to your (potential) children, you've done many other people a favor here today I suspect.... because it's going to make everyone who reads this stop and think before they make these kind of comments in front of their children. You've helped them see the damage words like these can inflict. It will remind them to learn to love themselves, flaws and all, just like we love our children.

And maybe knowing all this, and having learned (hopefully) to love yourself as you are since you triumphed (yes, triumphed!) over your eating disorder, you will learn to remember that you're not worthless. In fact, I'd say you're pretty d*mn brave ... and I suspect you'd be more likely to pass on your bravery and insightfulness re how the mind works on to your kids than insecurities.

anna said...

Yeah, I worry about this issue a lot. I have a son right now, and find it's not a problem with him. But I am afraid to have another kid, because what if it's a girl, and I will totally mess her up forever.

Anonymous said...

I too hold animosity towards my mother from my developing an eating disorder. Just know that you're not alone in that.

Anonymous said...

You sound as though you've made some very positive success in correcting this problem. I don't know if you've been for any therapy, but so many people find it helpful.
Your post hit home in many ways. While I've never sufferred from an eating disorder, I've struggled with self image my entire life. I also grew up in a home where my Mom and all the female role models in my life constantly talked about dieting and weight. Now that I have two daughters I find it a struggle not to talk negatively about myself and I'm constantly asking the women in their lives not to say that they are on a diet and can't have a piece of cake or that they are too fat to have a cookie.
Please don't let this stop you from having children. Try to work through this.

Anonymous said...

Are we sisters? Because that sounds just like my mom.

Even battling cancer, she continues to talk about how "fat" she is. Chemo weight, swelling - is called fat.

Our mothers don't know how much we listen. How deeply we feel them.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an eating disorder, just the usual body issues, but even that comes with a ridiculous burden of time spent planning calories and exercise, feeling ugly and being derailed from my bigger projects by the desperate need to get my body perfect first.

What a waste it is, when my body won't be perfect no matter what I do.

My mother, to this day, comments on my weight every time I see her: usually positively, since I do work out a lot, but the fact that she sees it as her right to comment really bugs me. And every compliment to me is accompanied by a derogatory remark about someone else in the family who didn't measure up that month, so I know that if I gain a few, she'll be mentioning me that way to the rest of the family.

It's a game I don't want to play any more and you have just given me the insight into it. I'm going to ask her not to indulge in body talk at all, around me, and see if we can maybe get somewhere useful for a change.

Best of luck in your journey to motherhood. You sound like you will do so very well.

Anonymous said...

Your post is so timely.

I never realized how tied with my weight my overall self image was until after I had my second child. I had always been thin, and with my first child (10 years earlier) the weight just fell off and no one could tell I just had a baby. With my second, I had gained a total of 95 lbs, and being "fat" just devastated me. I couldn't stop talking about how big I was, how none of my old clothes fit, blah blah blah, how I'm still 25 lbs away from my pre-baby weight. All right before the eyes (and ears) of my 10 year old daughter. I didn't realize the impact my words had on my daughter (now 12) until a few days ago. She sat me down and told me:

"We need to talk mom. I know you are eating fine and stuff, and that you exercise when you can, but you need to be so hard on yourself. I worry about you. I don't want you to stop eating or throw up or anything. That's just not good for you. You look really beautiful and I'm proud that your my mom."

I am so very proud of her, and so very ashamed of myself. My little girl has a positive, strong self image, and the courage to call out her own mother.

I bet that your (future) children will see you for your bravery in facing and fighting a disease. Keep hope, you already are on the right track.

js said...

I have a daughter who is 7. I have never said in front of her that I feel fat, or look fat, or anything. I think these thoughts. Often. And I know I shouldn't. I KNOW I am thin, too thin some say, but I look fat to me when I see my reflection. I thought that by not saying these things in front of her that she would be saved somehow. She hasn't though. She constantly tells me that she is fat or that she has a big butt or her stomach is nasty. I reassure her that she is perfect. That she is beautiful. But I never quite know what to say, because I'm so afraid I'll say the wrong thing. It breaks my heart to see her at only 7, already worried about things like this.

Anonymous said...

"I refuse to let this carry on into another generation of beautiful, talented, smart, loved and worthwhile women. But I don’t know how to go about changing. Yet."

you already are changing it by recognizing it and talking about it. by seeing your own beauty and talent and also that of the next generation as well.

thank you !

Anonymous said...

That was an amazing post! You are a wonderful person because you recognize the problem and are correcting it :) I think you would be a good mother, because you know what not to do. I went though similar things because I was physically and mentally abused by my mother. I was 30 when I had my first child. I hope in time you will feel better about it too!
Many hugs!

Anonymous said...

This is just plain excellent. And good for you for fighting out of the weight issue thing.
My husband is the weight nut in our family. He judges people's worth by their weight. Sometimes I wish I could duct tape his mouth.
And, of course, he is one of those pain in the ass people who can eat and eat and not gain. But he obsesses about calories and what is 'good for him' at every meal.
We have two daughters. One, like her father, never gains. She has forbidden her father to talk to her about her weight.
The other daughter is overweight. I have forbidden her father to mention weight anywhere around her. But she knows.
It is like a plague, this thinness thing. Posts like this one have got to help; how can we get this excellent post out without compromising the author?

Karen (miscmum) said...

Well done for taking care of yourself; your spirit and body both.

I too am recovering. I have a daughter.

She is 4.5 yrs old.

The thought terrifies me of how I will bring her up to be an assured woman and not succumb like me to fears or ridiculous expectations. I hope I can.

Again, congratulations on the success you've had thus far

jchevais said...

It took tremendous courage to write this. Then to post it.

Now? You are changing the lives of the children who are already born, through the mothers who are reading.

The internet sometimes baffles me in its power.

Shannon said...

The fact that you've recognized where it started, and that it's a problem, and the fact that you want to change it. That will be enough. Enough to get married and enough to have babies (if those are what you want) and enough to raise your children with healthy self-images. You will take the same self-determination you used to hurt yourself and use it to build up your family instead.

Anonymous said...

I so understand this. I don't have an eating disorder per se, but I hate my body - and always have.
Like you, I can remember my thin, beautiful mom telling me she was fat, and as I grew up being accepted or rejected based on my weight.
But.
I have 2 beautiful children.
And I try my best to accept myself and like myself no matter my weight.
My son is 4 now. And he has no concept of weight or fat - as far as I know. He would run around naked if he could. Of course I make him wear clothes, but the comfort he has in his body is something I cherish.
I think you'll be great as a mom because you know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Really.

I'm the overweight one in my family. My mother is tiny and I'm not ... not by a long shot.

I had a baby eight weeks too early last year, and she's still at the very bottom of the growth chart. The pediatrician wants her to gain weight, and my mother is horrified by that. She told me, "it's better for her to be at the bottom of the scale than the top."

So, yeah. I'm right there with you. How on earth can I overcome this frenzy of body-hate to raise my daughter to be happy in her own skin?

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Oh I'm so sorry for your pain. But you sound really good!! You are to be commended for overcoming this - it's tough. And have some babies honey!! Your awareness will make all the difference. If you ever should slip up, you'll know and you'll talk to her and it will be fine. (And maybe you'll have boys anyway!)

Vicki said...

Please be careful everyone because you seem to focus on just the daughters. This effects boys, too. They can fall victim to the stereotypes of weight just as easily as women. Never call your children fat, no matter whether they are girls or boys because no one should ever be made to think they are fat. We are all beautiful in our own ways and no two people are exactly alike, even identical twins. Tell your children and loved ones how beautiful you think they are, no matter their size, shape, or color. Love begets love.

heels said...

My eating disorder started when I was 6 and didn't end until I was 17. During my recovery, I gained a lot of weight, mostly because my metabolism was totally shot and my body was used to hanging on to any food it could get. I was feeling low about it one day and asked my mother (who had constantly remarked on my beauty while I was rail thin) "Do you think I'm fat, Mom?" She said, without hesitation, "Yes." I never talk about weight around my son- not at all. It just doesn't matter. He will always be beautiful to me.

Miss Grace said...

This was an incredibly beautiful post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't NOT have kids because of this. You might have boys, after all. And if they're girls, well, just be vigilant about not saying you look fat and teach them to love their bodies for what they are.

Anonymous said...

For those who say 'maybe you'll have boys': Don't you also care how boys, who will grow up to be men, view women's bodies? You have a lot do to with that too. Please do their future girlfriends/wives a favor and try to raise men who are accepting of a real woman's shape, not some false ideal. Plus men care about things like height and weight and being handsome too.

And my mom has affected my self image, but not regarding weight. She always has thought she was totally ugly and says it as if it were fact. So I grew up believing it. And the older I get, the more I look like her. You can see where that's going. Whenever I see more of her in the mirror than my father, it makes me sad because I think I look ugly.

On the flip side, I have the same feet as my father and grandmother, with crooked toes and bunions since childhood. I never once heard my father or grandmother say their own feet were ugly. In fact, one day we had a good time when I was 12 or so looking at 3 generations of feet that look just the same:). It made me feel good to share something with them, I had no idea my feet were the kind some considered ugly.

Thanks for this reminder to celebrate bodies rather than focus on the negative. I bet they were knowingly giving me something to look back on if I ever realized my feet were less than perfect.

Maybe we can celebrate our children's features that some may consider flaws? That will probably be even better than just ignoring it.

Lottifish said...

Gosh, I know how you feel. I struggle with my weight constantly but I try to remind myself that that's not what it's all about. Sure, I'm chunky. But I'm loving, and caring, and fun too.

Hang in there. I think it will forever be a struggle for most of us but it's something worth struggling against rather than letting it take over our lives.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed by your courage in writing and posting this. I don't know if I could have done it.

Thank you for sharing such a private piece of yourself with us. It is truly an important thing for all mothers -- no, all women -- to read.

I have two daughters and a weight problem. I certainly needed to read this. Thank you so much for telling your story.

Anonymous said...

I read your post and wept. Thank you for having the courage to share your story.

I've been throwing up several times a day since I was 16. I'm 42 now. I worry about what I'll do when my knees won't let me kneel in front of the toilet anymore. How obscene is that?

We tell our daughters/nieces/sisters/friends to love themselves, to acknowledge their brains and beauty...yet they hear us respond to compliments by saying "oh no, I'm so fat!" instead of "thank you!" They hear us whisper "vain bitch..." when a woman expresses satisfaction or pleasure in who she is or what she looks like. We buy dolls with unrealistic figures, and purchase magazines filled with anorexic models. Our money speaks louder than words...we're supporting the concept that THIN is the only beauty.

You are right, and I hope your message continues to grow. And it's not enough to just refrain from talking about fat...our actions and behavior have to send the same message.

I know I'm wicked smart. I know I'm a good person. I work harder than the skinny people, to try and overcome the idea that fat people are lazy. And I keep telling myself I'm beautiful and acceptable and worthy of being loved.

Maybe someday I'll believe it.

Honig said...

"Don't you also care how boys, who will grow up to be men, view women's bodies? ...Please do their future girlfriends/wives a favor and try to raise men who are accepting of a real woman's shape, not some false ideal. "

I LOVE this comment...it is so true! I've always struggled with my weight and what I "should" weigh (thank you Air Force) and my first baby is almost 6 mos old. I've been really challenged by my new shape and stretch marks and nursing breasts, but my husband has been ridiculously awesome about it all. He loves *ME*, not just by body. Sometimes I struggle even to comprehend his acceptance of the changes in my body, but knowing that he still thinks I'm sexy helps me start to feel sexy.

This post makes me want to thank my mother-in-law for raising such a wonderful man and makes me all that more conscious of the impact I can have on my own son and his future partner.

Alex and Tara said...

A friend of mine nearly killed herself with anorexia when around 17, was ill for much longer, and finally turned into a healthily eating vegan. She had a baby last year, at 34, and did not put on an inch.
I am an averyage eater with an interest in healthy eating who exercises. I lost every pound I put on 4-5 months after I'd had my girl.
What I'm saying is, you have a big say in what happens to your body during and after pregnancy.
For everything else, your babies will make up, as well as the knowledge that it is within your power to bring up healthy daughters with healthy relationships to their bodies, and an appreciation of the wonderful things they do for them.
For encouragement, visit
http://theshapeofamother.com/save-our-daughters/
Good luck X

Anonymous said...

My parents divorced when I was 12. We saw my dad once a week. Almost everytime we went to his place he would comment on the size of our bums. The message was clear, people with perfect bodies are better than people who don't have perfect bodies. This is so dangerous. These seemingly innocent, small comments have deep routed, far reaching affects that last a life time if you don't get help with it. And, it is far EASIER to build a child than to fix an adult.

The good news, being alive is enough. Every living person is WORTH IT! It is NOT about how you look. It never was. Use your awareness to end this for the next generation. We all need to pull together to end this crippling sentence.

Louisa said...

This is such an amazing post! I am so pleased your wrote this. I just had my daughter and I fear she has my metabolism. I have just joined a gym at WW so that I can lost the 30kg I need to because I want to role model to her that you can eat healthy and be healthy but I also want to make sure I don't pass on my battle to her. This post has been amazingly helpful to me. I am so so sorry you have been through this but I am also so thankful that you shared it here and I must say that I agree with an earlier commenter who encouraged you to go public with this message. Women everywhere need to hear this! God bless.

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