Don't Tell Your Daughter You're Fat
I found this piece really moving - it made me think about my relationship with my own mother, when I first realised that she was "fat" and how that changed how I thought about female bodies forever, including my own.
My own mother was beautiful, I remember thinking that she was perfect in every way and it never occurred to me that she could look better. I only cared that she was my mum. I think I was about 5 or 6 when she told me that she wanted to lose weight and I was devastated. I remember being consumed with fear that she would change. "But then you will be less cuddly" I remember telling her.
Being an adult woman now I know that I probably killed her with that comment and she probably felt torn that she desperately wanted to be thin but that in doing so she would upset her daughter, and she probably resented me for saying that. That obviously didn't occur to me at that age.
The reality was at that time she was quite a healthy weight, just not the "skinny" that was in fashion at that time. Through unhealthy, extreme dieting though, she went on to become dangerously overweight for much of my childhood and teen years - but that still didn't matter to me when I was young. That's not what I saw when I looked at her.
But that wasn't the one and only comment she made about her weight - she continued to berate herself in front of me for years. I watched her struggle with yo-yo diets and listened to her tell me how fat, ugly and unattractive she was. I joined her crash diet madness and the two of us starved ourselves and stuffed ourselves in tandem, slowly getting fatter, unhealthier and less confident as the years went on.
I'm lucky enough to have found a way out of this loop, a way to support health and strength and control my weight what feels like quite effortlessly. Not only that, but it's now my job to help other women find that same balance and break away from unhealthy relationships with food and empower themselves with exercise.
Sadly, she never found a way out of the to-ing and fro-ing until she passed away 8 years ago.
I have been so wrapped up in my weight and how I look for so many years now that I guess I never stop to consider if there is anything else of importance. But we have more value than that. As women we have value as mothers, daughters, friends, wives, girlfriends... and just as our wonderful selves. The fact that we can have a relationship with ourselves, our own identity independent of other people, is only something that I have begun to learn over the past year or so.
I guess the take-away here is that :
1. how you look isn't a direct reflection of your worth, you are so much more than that. (I know that is a really obvious thing to say, but really think about it. Does all your self-worth rest entirely on how you look?)
2. Think about the messages that you pass on to younger girls around you, especially your daughters - do they really need to hear about how you feel fat and ugly right now? Will that help them or you in any way? Let them love you as you are without muddying their vision with our generation's hang ups. Maybe, just maybe, then they will grow up to love themselves in the same way, not questioning if they would somehow be more worthy if they lost a few pounds...