I’ve often wondered whether it’s more difficult to be the overweight daughter of a naturally slim mother or one who is prone to plumpness.
With the thin mother, I could see the struggles that come with obliviousness. Their slim bodies act a certain way when fed and watered normally, why shouldn’t it be the same for their daughter’s young form? I can also imagine a mother whose tiny dress size has always been a point of pride being disappointed or embarrassed at their daughter’s less-than-svelte body.
On the other hand, if you’re a chubby kid and big momma is constantly complaining about her fat thighs and bouncing from cabbage soup this to meal replacement shake that in an effort to drop “the weight”, congratulations: odds are you’re going to be her de facto diet buddy until you finagle your way to an out-of-state college.
Sometimes it’s difficult to have empathy for these characters.
After all, I’m going to venture onto a very sturdy limb and say many if not most big girls who struggle with disordered eating patterns learned it at the feet of their fad dieting mothers. And let’s not even get into the body hate projection, the screwed up approach to self-worth and all the rest of the stuff that’s put our therapists’ kids through private school.
Still, a little compassion is in order.
Our mothers didn’t have the size-acceptance community we do for support. They might not have even known liking themselves just as they are was even an option, much less have a place where they could rage, share and occasionally get some sense lovingly –if virtually– slapped into them.
Besides, their mothers might’ve been pieces of work themselves, this stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum you know and it wasn’t too long ago that most of the western world was on food rations. I know my grandmother very nearly starved during the Great Depression and she kept a lifelong eating disorder and a raging case of fat hate as unfortunate souvenirs.
I’ve got nothing but sympathy –okay, almost nothing but sympathy– for women whose sense of personal value is so tenuous that a swing of the scale can make a difference between love and shame. I can only imagine how difficult it is not to pass it on to their children.
I do believe most mothers truly want the best for their children. For every Joan Crawford doppelganger, there are hundreds of well-intentioned moms who inflicted harm not out of cruelty, but out of their own human brokenness. They did what they thought was best using the tools they had at the time and although I’m sure we could spend ages comparing ridiculous and painful war stories, the best WE can do is forgive our mothers, learn from them and not make the same mistakes.
What do you think? I know it’s a sensitive subject, but I’m particularly interested in hearing how those of you who’ve struggled over size with your mother have forgiven, moved on and developed a new, healthier relationship…or not.