Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'll Have Some Fat, With A Side of Self Loathing

Draz made a post today. And she is asking for our opinions, thoughts, advice...and I could see me getting a little long winded here, so I decided to post on my blog my thoughts.

I believe the topic for discussion is in relation to body image, children, dieting mothers, mother's with food issues themselves, etc.

Now, clearly...I do not have children. I hope this doesn't discredit me in anyway. Because, shockingly, I was a child once with food issues...who had a mother.

So here goes.

I was not fat as a kid. Although I sure thought I was. Here is a picture of me when I was around 8. I am the one with the mullet that I had begged my mom to let me have.

I was not as small as my friends, but I wasn't fat or unhealthy. I thought I was a whale. I hated my body. I remember I would measure my upper thighs with my hands, seeing how many hand lengths it would take to make the circle. For those of you who have read the beginning of my blog, you know my earliest memory of being fat was from around the age of 5, when my brother told me my ass had cellulite. I remember my mom's diet books. I remember always feeling like I was bigger. That's why I had to be funny. That's why I had to be the class clown. That's why I had to be the people pleaser.

Somethings never change.

And now when I see really obese (and I am talking obese) children (and by children I mean those too young to drive themselves to fast food), I look at the parents and think "What the hell dude"?

At some point, parents enable their kids right? And Lord I can only imagine how hard it is to create a healthy environment when you have a husband, work, kids, soccer practice, work, and a million other stressors. Healthy eating takes time and it comparatively more expensive then unhealthy eating.

So, I look back at my childhood and try to figure out how I went from an average kid to an overweight tween. Our house wasn't stocked with loads of crap. In fact, I always wanted my mom to buy more crap. We never had sugary cereal for example...just things like Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, etc. We were from the midwest though, so our meals were very red meat and potatoes. My mom ate salads, but she didn't (and still doesnt) cook with fresh veggies, spices, flavor etc.

This has been one of my joys after getting banded and finding a better way to eat. There are so many things out there that I had never tried. We never had the "healthy" choices growing up.

My mom was never skinny when I was growing up, but she was never fat. I don't remember who being negative about her body in front of me. I don't really remember her going on diets. She never called me fat, never made me feel fat. My parents always loved me for who I was. In all honesty, if they had pushed probably would have been worse. You should also know that I am third, the youngest, and the best child. lol...this makes a difference because my sister, at 16 years my senior, had very different parents. They were young. My mom was skinny. And according to my sister...always on her about her weight or dieting. By the time I came along, my parents were in their late 30's and we are all a little wiser in our 30's right?

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me growing up was the gift of "doing". I was always doing something. Playing outside, swimming, skiing, softball, basketball, dance, gymnastics. And for the most part (maybe minus softball and basketball...see...goes to prove I may never earn my lesbian membership card) I loved all of those activities. So even though I might sneak the occasional twinkie or cheese slice...I was active.

So, I guess I really started packing on the weight when I started to make my own money (around 14), and when I could drive (around the same time). I would buy food. I would buy lots of food.

Somethings never change.

So I guess what I am saying is, I didn't need my mom to tell me or make me feel like less of a person...she never did...but I felt that way anyways. I didn't need my mom to feed me bad foods. I found them on my own.

With that said, things are even harder for our girls now. When I was little, sure...I remember wanting to grow up and look like certain movie stars (basically I just wanted to BE a movie star), but I don't remember being inundated with the unrealistic ideas of beauty like kids are today. And little kids are smart. This is Sissy. My brother's girlfriends daughter. I love her like peas love carrots. She is a princess. She could be mine.

She is healthy. She is by no means fat. She is 5 years old. But she will stand in front of a mirror in bikini and pinch her "fat" and say she needs to go on a diet. You know why? Because she has seen her mommy do it. And her mom probably never thought about Sissy watching her. But they watch don't they? And they want to be like us. Or NOT be like us.

So what is the answer? Who knows. If I ever have a little girl, I would want her to know that she is beautiful. I would want her to know that being healthy is important. And health is not synonymous with being skinny. I would want her to find activities that make her happy. I would strive to put and offer healthy choices on the table. I would teach her how to cook. How to enjoy food. I would try not to have junk easily accessible, but teach her that once in awhile...a little junk ain't so bad. I would move my body with her. Go for walks. Go to Zumba. Dance in the living room. I would let her see that I am comfortable in my own skin...even though my own skin is saggy and damaged. I would let her see that no matter what, no matter what size your jeans are or how many stretch marks you have...she can LIVE. You can have friends, be a cheerleader if she wants, dance, laugh, date. She can hold her head high and love herself. That's my hope for when and if I have a youngin. I would just do the best that I could do. And I would love and support the hell out of them.

Holy barbecue smokies...I did ramble didn't I?

Again, the only thing I know for sure is that if I did have a daughter she would probably be an attention whore, talk too much, and not know when to keep her mouth shut. Those are the issues that I would clearly pass on.

But I would just whisper to her "It's okay day you can channel all of that nonsense into a blog...and people might actually enjoy it"!


  1. Great post. You will/would be a wonderful mom. I hope that we as a society are becoming more aware of how we portray body image and messages to children.
    I, like you, was not fat as a child but sure thought I was. Similarly, my brother told me I had cellulite at about 10 (do you think we share a sibling?) Because of that, and the fact that I was about a foot taller than all my classmates, I thought I was huge and started my first self-imposed diet at 11. I've been yoyoing ever since. Funny how a few words, if not refuted by others - like a really conscientious parent - can cause such self loathing.

  2. Everything you said is right on. I too thought I was such a whale as a youngster. I was a size 9 in HS and thought I should be on display at Sea World. Now, my leg would not even fit in to a size 9 jeans. :) Btw, you look GREAT!


  3. Thank you - I hope my friend reads this....I know it'll help her.

    Did I mention I love you?

  4. BTW-you look fantastic! I haven't visited your blog in awhile (no idea why you're not on my blogroll, I tried, I swear....and will try again) and your progress is amazing. You sound very happy. Your post WAS GREAT! Well thoughout & not judgmental (which some people with opinions can be). Loved the read, thought you should know!

  5. Is the girl-mullet called a gullet? You were an adorable kid and not fat at all.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think you're on the right track. You'll make a great mom.

  6. I think being a child once and having a mother fully qualifies you to speak on the subject. As I said on Draz's blog, I think setting a good example is the best thing mothers can do.

  7. I don't think you could have said it any better! I AM a mom, and I couldn't have put it better. The focus needs to be on what is healthy, not on what will make you skinny or overweight. We do not keep junk in my house. My daughter's idea of a snack is an apple. Don't get me wrong, she loves her sugar, but I figure she gets enough of it when she is not with me, so I don't need to supply it to. The best you can do as a parent is to keep your kids active, and teach them that taking care of our bodies, no matter the size, is important. And to show them that you love them, and yourself. Thanks for posting this!

  8. This was the kind of answer I wish I could have given but couldn't find the words.

  9. Great post, Amy. I don't have daughters but I do know boys feel the same. My oldest due to a sedentary lifestyle has put on a few kilos and HATES IT! Hes very aware of being just a touch overweight. So no matter boy or girl, its our job to raise them to be healthy, happy individuals. I love your way of thinking xx

  10. You are just the sweetest. And guess what, my daughter (who happens to weigh a bit more than me right now) is "an attention whore, who talks too much, and does not know when to keep her mouth shut". And I love her because she is her own person, doesn't put up with any bullshit (got that from me!) and I hope I didn't pass on all the shame I had about fat. She is a pretty good kid, even though she's 27 now. I think I need her to do a post so I can really learn how I raised her. The good the bad and the ugly. But mostly good.

  11. Beautifully said... as always, You are amazing to read. I love the things you would tell your daughter and living by example is best. My experiences weren't bad either growing up but I did follow my family's example, still do, in fact which is why I am glad there is 1000 miles between us. I adore you! *M*

  12. Excellent two posts AMY...I was a chubby kid who felt fat my whole life. My mom used to compare my tiny sister and I by giving me advice on dressing so that I could camouflage my tummy. She would say "us big girls need to do this." She was overweight too. I felt fat as a teenager (what I weigh now) and quickly became obese following the birth of my three oldest daughters.

    I am a mom-Three of my daughters were raised by an obese mom (the fourth gets this thinner mom)and two of them have weight issues. One is obese the other yo-yos between healthy and overweight. The third is having trouble keeping weight on right now. I believe that I could have taught them to eat my healthily but I believe they were destined to be fat or not before or soon after they were born. My obese daughter has been HUNGRY since she was a baby. She was like a heat seeking missile when she nursed. She was a human vacuum as a toddler (i pulled pennies and rocks out of her mouth frequently) and she enjoyed food more than her sisters. I believe her thermometer is set high.

    Having said that, however, I raised her to be proud and that BBW can get dates and live happy fulfilled lives. I am glad that she has a better self-image than I did but on the down side. I have now found a way for her to feel more energy. Be healthier and not have to deal with the anti-obesity slant of society. She has told me that she is happy as a BBW and is not interested.

    I support her decision but I worry about her health and I do hope someday she will join me with this lapband gig or some other pathway so that she can know the joy/energy/comfort of feeling thinner and healthier.

    My second weight struggling daughter has only a slightly off kilter weight thermostat and has figured out strategies to battle it (sometime winning and sometimes sliding back). She struggles a bit more with her self-image and has felt the sting of words said by unthinking classmates about her weight. She seeks thinness with exercise and dieting. I wish there was a tool that even those who suffer moderate weight issues could have to help them too.

    I probably should have posted on my page too :)

  13. I liked both of your last two posts Amy-the first made me laugh and agree while the second really got me to thinking. I agree mostly with you but felt the need to write a big long saga on my blog (I was rejected here because i went over the length limit).

    I like your Halloween costume plan :)..I might have to come to a similar arrangement with my husband.

  14. Okay so when are you going to get pregnant? Because you need to be a mom! To a daughter, preferably.

    I am struggling with this now. And the really hard part is I thought I could protect my daughter by doing many of the things you mentioned...but some of it is just out of my control. Its hard. I need to do my own mother/daughter post. Ive been putting it off.

    Thank you for writing this.

  15. I have a daughter. Who is an attention whore. Who talks too much. Who never knows when to shut up. And who spanks me and says "Don't say stupid stuff like that!" when I call myself fat.

    So go figure.

    I can identify with a lot of what you mention about growing up, your mom, etc. Only I was the eldest, so I think I understand your sister's position a little bit better. I wasn't ragged on, but there was definitely more love and encouragement and comments about my appearance when I was thinner.

  16. I almost didn't recognize you in the picture without a toe point!!

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