Self-Loathing, Just Like Mama Taught Me

10 comments | July 12th, 2012

(story submitted as a comment, by Lana a Chestist, and reposted here, now)

The writer first posted this as a comment to our story on Mothers, and what they teach us about ourselves – for good and ill.  Here's her story:

When I was 14, my mom told me that, for her, 130 lbs was "big." At that time, I weighed about 165 lbs. In that moment, I wanted to kill myself.

She wasn't telling me to lose weight, she was expressing her own dissatisfaction with her body. My mom has a curvy hourglass figure – she's wears a 32DD Bra and size 12 pants. Her waist is tiny but she has our family's hips bodacious booty. My whole life, my mother talked about food, and she still does. She decides to "hate" foods that have "too much fat," like cheesecake, which, I recently found out, she actually loves but told me that she hated it my whole life. She won't even drink a latte because it has "too much milk." She has been on Weight Watchers my entire life and when we went around the table to say what we were thankful for at Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New year) she said "weight watchers." Her weight is a constant discussion. If she eats a cookie she says, "Guess I'll get back to my regular eating on Monday." When I ate ice cream, she would say things like, "You're going to eat all that?" Unsurprisingly, I developed an eating disorder during my Junior year of high school and 4 years later, I am still consumed by thoughts of food. I still write down every calorie that enters my body, and I can't go an hour without reciting back to myself everything that I have eaten in order to calm myself down.

At one point, I told my mom that her own negative body image and constant talking about her body and what is wrong with it and food and what is wrong with it significantly influenced me in a very negative way, and she said, "Well, nobody's perfect. I guess I'm not the perfect mother." For a little while, I think she watched what she said more, but now she has completely reverted to her old behavior of discussing it all the time. The funny thing is, my Grandma recently told me, "I don't let myself eat sandwiches. I don't need all that bread." Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

All I can do is promise myself that when I have children I will make sure that they know that they are beautiful and smart and important and kind, regardless of any number. In fact, maybe we won't even have a scale in our house. I also want to end this by saying that my mother is my best friend, and I think she's an amazing person. I just wish that she could accept herself so that I can accept myself. {end story}

How have your parents informed and shaped your sense of you?  What would (do) you do differently with your kids (if you have them)?  Let's #discuss.



  • MCS

    Posted on January 26, 2012

    I think my parents, my mom’s really, biggest impact has been on my emotional well-being, and has nothing to do with body-image. She was pretty much a depressed lunatic. She did the best she could though. I’ve never battled depression like she did; I also never let myself enjoy things very much. Life has been very good to me and I can not help feeling I should be a lot happier and prouder than I am.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on January 26, 2012

    My father used to poke his finger into my belly when I was little and call me his “little michelin girl”. Can you spell complex?

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  • amy

    Posted on January 26, 2012

    My mother told me I had to ‘do something’ about the excess belly fat I had after having two kids. She decided to starve herself to death, so I think she did all the fasting for us both. I look a lot like her and it really bothers me. :(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on January 26, 2012

    I have the same mother. And grandmother. You are definitely not alone-I just wanted you to know that. All we can do is learn and grow from what our parents could and couldn’t do for us and we will become stronger women because of it.
    Stay true to yourself- and your promises to be a different parent..

    And make a collage out of your scale and hang it on the wall…
    Or definitely throw it in the trash…

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  • Lily

    Posted on July 12, 2012

    Hi, my name is Lily and I’ve had plastic surgery in order to change my body into one that I liked better.

    After two kids and a childhood burn injury, my midsection looked like something Jimmy Carter would fly over in a helicopter, after negotiating humanitarian air-drops of Vitamin E.

    I didn’t like the way it looked; the original incident that caused the burn injury was traumatic and I didn’t like being reminded of it every time I undressed or had sex.

    I had two choices: Love my body, or change my body into something I could love. I took option B. I don’t regret it in the least.

    That said, *I* was the one who decided to change my body. Had anybody made comments on my body, I would have made it my mission to make them excruciatingly uncomfortable until they learned a very valuable lesson: My body is mine and your opinions are not relevant or welcome, so back off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on July 13, 2012

    My grandmother and mother were very concerned with how they looked. My mother never left the house without lipstick, and she looked in the mirrors that were all over our house constantly. My grandmother made endless comments about the clothes we wore, the length of our hair, and told me not to furrow my brow because I would get lines. Basically, they drove me crazy. As a parent I make sure my kids are clean, comfortable and neat, but I let them make choices about their clothes. I want them to be who they are as much as possible.

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