Have you seen this article? The FAT Fight written by Mother & Daughter Robin Marantz Henig and Jess Zimmerman in the December Marie Claire. It moved me this story. Obviously because I felt the need to have my say on the topic. Mother and daughter relations are tricky. To say the least. And a minefield when it comes to body image, dieting and health. This is one such story. Written from each women’s point of view it is a story of Jess’s childhood and the way Robin raised her. My personal summary is below. Theirs may look different. 

It is, a she said/she said mother and daughter story with a focus on weight, body image, health and disordered eating. The primary theme is that Robin, the mother acknowledges her role contributing to Jess’s low self esteem and challenges with food and eating. And the triumph of the Jess who has discovered fat acceptance {blogs about it, yay!} and is re-framing Robin and her own views on body image and self love. Well that’s my take, read it if you end up interested and do your own synopsis. 

Firstly. Let me just acknowledge a few things. I am women defining myself in the world. I am fat. I have a mother. I too have suffered at the hands of disordered eating. I have been loved whole heartedly every day of my life and for that I will always be grateful. I have been fed crazy weight loss diets. Most I inflicted on myself. Responding to a general press article isn’t something I do much of around here, so hang in there.
And let’s kick it off with the first thing. I was a little hurt on behalf of Robin {the mother} if I am to be honest. Her side of the story seems to have an underlying flavour of regret and a general questioning of herself and her abilities. This makes me sad. Perhaps it is a manipulation on her behalf but I really wanted to give her a hug and tell her that the past is the past and she did what she could with the tools she had. Would she do things differently now? maybe… Maybe not. It seemed to me that too much blame fell at her feet and there was no authentic responsibly there for the choices Jess made.
I know that some of my earliest memories relating to food are connected to my parents. They were the source of my food. All of it. They had the power to control what I ate and when and how much. I think all children rebel against that sort of control. Whether it be around food or friends or hobbies.

My mother has been everything from a teeny tiny size 8 {hello wedding dress} through to a robust size 22. To say that her issues with body image, weight loss and such didn’t effect me would be a joke. Of course it did. I knew before I was 10 years old that to loose weight you needed to eat grapefruit, cottage cheese and celery. Lots and lots of celery. 
Her world formed mine. That is what mother’s do. And it is a weight of responsibility that is too great for one women to burden. I think all women need to be a part of forming the ideals and the habits, the confidence and the health of all girls. Mother’s are women with their own hangups, ideas and pre-programming. They got what they got from their mothers and the mothers before that.

We each need to do what Jess is doing and define our path for ourself. However I think that sitting your mother down and lining her up with a this is your fault, look at the damage you caused me chat has never been a productive way to move forward.   

And oh goodness do I empathise with Jess. Oh yes I hear her loud and clear. And yet, I cannot imagine what a blow it was to such a young person being held up to the world as an example. A problem solved. Fat kid turned slim. But I hope that some part of her knows that this was not what her mother was actually saying. I don’t believe, for a second, that her mother thought she was a failure and undeserving of simple nourishment. Even if she said it out loud.

I was always a chubby kid. Soon after that I was a fat kid. And a large girl. When I was 12 I was an inch off of my full adult height of 179cm and weighed 75kg. I remember there being a scale at the corner of our classroom for science or health or something. One by one my classmates got on the scales and off again it dawned on me just how big I was in comparison. I WAS the giant from the Dahl stories I loved. And to think, until then, I never really knew how different I was.

For me, the most difficult part of the story was as Jess discussed the inner dialogue, the self conversation going on over a lifetime of dieting, binging and bulimia. It hurt because it was a little close to home for me. The things we tell ourselves about who we are based on our body is shocking {as in surprising} to say the least. When all is quiet and that voice, the voice that is yours but the worst of you, says that you are ugly, unlovable, not worthy. That is a dark time. And only love will bring you back. Love for you and from you.

And where do you go when you don’t trust your mother to reassure you, to hold you, stroke your hair and tell you you are beautiful. To love you. Well, I don’t know the answer to that. But I would recommend you go and read this story.   

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