Father beware

I contributed to an article for the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and I’d like your perspective on the topic.


Did your father contribute to or help you with your eating disorder?

It seems to me fathers, and men in general, are more active and involved on this blog, my youtube and in email. I believe they are tuned eating disorders, and their concern for their daughters rises with the tide.

The 1950’s are over. No more stern, old Fathers sitting at the sidelines watching gentle Mother handle the girlie issues. Thank goodness. Today’s dad’s seem to be willing to jump right in there and express themselves, and urge their daughters to do the same.

My father was and is nothing short of amazing. Always has been and always will be. He had a way of listening, not judging, and above all trusting me (even when he sure as hell shouldn’t have!)

I knew he would love me no matter what. I was a model, and yes he was proud of that, but only because I was proud of it. When my interests shifted elsewhere, he followed along, with a keen sense awareness that my woven path was part of growing up.

His role was to observe my path, not drive it. 

Did you father realize this? Or did he push, and preach, and send you mixed messages?


Paul Nyhan, SeattlePI

The main advice I gave to Paul Nyhan, the reporter for SeattlePI, and a father of a two year old girl;

1) If you call your daughter fat, she will never, ever forget it.

2) Listen to her express her feelings about her body. Don’t shove her feelings away or cut her off. Just listen.

3) Don’t pretend to be the expert, because you aren’t. No man possibly could be. The female conscience on body image is a long, weird, tangled mess – us girls don’t even get it half the time!

What advice would you add to this list?

Be real. Be blunt. Tell him the facts.

I’ll invite Paul to read your responses so he can gather a full view a father’s impact on eating disorders, body image, and the whole beauty saga.


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34 Responses to Father beware

  1. Vanessa says:

    my dad and i had a complex and often confrontational relationship. he’s a health nut and i became obese as a teenager, in part due to medications i was given for depression. he was very uncomfortable with having a fat daughter and made comments about my weight and what i ate all the time, often with the excuse that he just wanted me to be healthy. “Vanessa, are you sure you want seconds?” as he took a huge plateful of seconds himself was the most common thing i remember happening, a couple times a week at least.

    it wasn’t quite so easy for him to claim he only cared about my health when we argued and he called me “fat bitch”. don’t get me wrong- he wasn’t abusive, he called me a fat bitch maybe 5 or 6 times over a period of a few years, always in the heat of an argument. but it wasn’t nice and still hurts to remember, even so.

    the thing that hurt most was something i only learned after i’d become anorexic the first time and lost the weight. my little brother who i practically raised and was always close to told me that when i wasn’t around and he displayed “bad” eating habits my dad would say to him “Jeff, you don’t want to end up like Vanessa, do you?”

    i think girls look up to their fathers and that gives fathers the power to hurt quite a bit. maybe it also gives them the ability to help but i guess i wouldn’t know.

  2. Rachel says:

    Vanessa: Well, shit! No wonder why you’ve got ED issues! Nothing like hypocrisy and a side of snide commentary to stir things up a bit.

    It can be funny how when you’re fat/obsese/whatever, the comments will surface more often than when you’re the other way around. I remember each and every comment made from everybody who made them that I heard either first hand or secondhand. To the parents out there with a child: DON’T make snide commentary. In fact, DON’T make commentary at all regarding your child’s weight. If your child is overweight, handle it in an open, honest manner. Skip the comments. Discuss. Maybe discuss it without discussing it? As in “Hey, Tae Kwon Do sounds like fun, would you be interested?” That worked for me. It won’t work for everybody. It’s a tricky line between commentary and honest discussion.

    As far as MamaV’s post, I can’t say that I’ve had a horrible relationship with either of my parents. I love both my mom and my dad, and overall, they both observe my path as well and do not drive it. For this, I am very fortunate. The one and only thing that they contribute to my mental issues is genetics.

  3. sammy says:

    well, i like this topic. i guess i never really gave it thought. i dont have a father. well, i do…but i dont. he left me and my mom when i was 2. years later he decided that he’ll give “fathering” a try. so he would call, and he would say he was coming to get me on saturday. i’d pack my belongings, and i’d sit and wait. i was so excited “MY DAD WANTED TO SPEND TIME WITH ME!!!” so i’d sit and sit and sit and sit…time would pass…darkness would come…and i’d usually fall asleep my the fire place. i’d wake up to a packed suit case, and a killed excitement. on the days that he actually did show up…he’d drop me off at someone elses house…someone that i didnt know. but anyways, when i reached about the age of 9 and 10, i ate a lot. i dont know if all kids that age began getting more hungry or what…but i’d have like 4 to 5 bowls of cereal EVERY morning. he’d tell me i’d get “fat.” and, to me…i was already…he opened my eyes to the world of improfection. then he got married and the woman to two really skinny girls. hey’d tease me. they’d call me fat. if it wasnt for Mary-kate…i might still be extremely fat! so i dont think my dad contributed anything but pain to my life…and my mom, she’s raised me on her own…and i used to have ADHD. i was hard to handle, and once i started ana…i became, less ADHD, and even more difficult to handle because i had so many mixed emotions. now i dont talk about my ana with anyone. its my secret. and this site is wonderful for me. its actually helping in a small way. thank you so much mamaV!!


  4. a_mother says:

    You have lovely children! I am not the run of the mill on here as I don’t have an eating disorder but I do have depression.

    My dad was a very angry person most of his life. We couldn’t do most anything without getting beaten for it. We were sitting in chairs wrong, we made too much noise….it was the choice of the buckle belt or the switch that had to have twigs left on it and it had to be big enough to break at least three times or it wasn’t big enough. I remember once I was about 5 doing the dishes, I broke a plate, I ran and hid because I was afraid of what he was going to do. To be that young and deathly afraid of your father isn’t a good thing. My sister started molesting me at the age of 5, she only did this 3 times while at my Grandmas. I didn’t really know what she was doing it just didn’t feel right is all I knew. She was 11 at the time. She later told people that dad was molesting her when she was doing that to me. When I was about 6 mom and dad got divorced. I didn’t really understand…it was at this time I went from having a total dictatorship to having to fend for myself. I was home alone most of the time while my mom ran the bars and dad went in search of a new love. I can remember when the bar became moms life so much we got down to one can of food in the house. At home there was my brother 10, sister 12, mom and me 7. We sat at the table and decided before mom got home that we would give her the last can of food because she was the one working and needed her strength. To have to make such decisions at such a young age.

    As the years went by mom finally found someone else that she thought was what she needed in our life( hers more so). He was 10 times more strict than my real dad. He was military and everything had its place. If it wasn’t in its place you had to get up and put it there immediately. He also let us know we weren’t as good as his kids. The world stopped when they came to visit. If my brother asked a question he was told to go get the encyclopedia and write a report about it then he would know. I had older half brothers and sisters, we weren’t allowed to talk about in his presence. So I would, because I loved them. At this time we would go to visit my dad and his new girlfriend, she had wild kids, they were so unlike anyone I ever met. Dad’s girlfriend would watch me eat and tell me I disgusted her, I didn’t even really know why. So everything I did from that point on I monitored. Every move I made had to be justified or it didn’t happen until I thought I could do it right. She started calling me Cinderella because I would actully get up and do the dishes out of habit from home while her kids probably never did them in their life. At this time, I became a shadow because I seen all the trouble my brother and sister would get into at both places and I didn’t want to go through that. I started to forget who I was, because I wasn’t given the chance to be myself. I became what everyone else wanted me to be….I became the camellion. I could talk to anyone about anything. If I didn’t know about it I would do the research and the next time we talked I knew almost as much as they did so I could fit in. To feel like a shadow and a misfit through my preteens was horrible.

    I was always told about my weight but for some reason maybe the depression other things won out. I was never skinny, skinny but I tried to stay in shape. I ran alot when I was younger. When I took out for sports I would have to ride my bike three miles to town just to get to practice. I did sports just to get out of the house because I knew nobody would come to watch anyway. When I was 14 and my brother was 16 we were moved out of my step-dads home and put in a house out in the country with no phone, and mom would come to see us once a week. I was basically made the mom. I would do laundry in the bath tub for myself and my brother, hang it on the line and wait til it froze so I could bring it in and set it by the fire so it would be ready to wear in the morning. I made supper, cleaned house, took care of my brother, kept the wood stoves going and let my brother know if he could have friends over if we had enough food. On moms weekly visit she would bring some food and see if we needed anything…I didn’t like taking anything from her at that point. My dad came around very rarely. He never came to see us at that house. The whole while I was doing this I kept my grades at A’s and B’s so that nobody would think badly of me and I wouldn’t have to get embarassed by my life by having to talk about it. At this point if my life I was in control of the house, so I wouldn’t tell or I thought I would be considered a failure . To have so much responsiblity pushed off on someone at the age of 14 is too much. At this time my sister was emancipated by the court so she moved away and came back once. When she did mom came to stay with us at this house so my sister wouldn’t know what was going on to tell on her. We never told.

    My point, it isn’t always just the dad, whether he is non existant or there. It has to do with everyone that you encounter and whether you can get respect or they just start to judge you. Which nobody has the right to do but God.

    Now that I am older and can have contact with whomever I want, I pick and chose so that I will not have to be put in the frying pan again. I have control over my life except when the depression hits. I have three children I live my life for and I have learned what not to do and what to do. I just pretty much do the exact opposite of what I had done to me growing up and we are doing fairly good. I have set boundaries that I live with so that I don’t feel sorry for someone who hurt me in the past. My sister and I have made peace and she is the one with the eating disorder that I help. I know that if she hadn’t been being treated badly when she was that age she wouldn’t have done so to me.
    Parenting is the most important role of your life, think before you act. The kids we created out of love, represent our love and are part of us. They are molded by what we say and do everyday. They, like us are human and like us, do make mistakes. I couldn’t imagine hurting one of my children ever. I know I disappoint them sometimes but I am not perfect and they are usually pretty good kids that understand. I have always been honest with my kids and open so they can ask anything without reprecussions. I also told my son who will be driving soon that if and when the time comes that he will be at a party and is drinking, call I will not yell I will come pick him up and when the next day is there I will still have a son and we will talk about it…..I love him enough to try to understand. I know everyone has their own way of parenting but my kids still love me because they want to and still talk to me about things they otherwise wouldn’t. Hope this helped, and good luck! Everyday tell your kids you love them, give them hugs and kisses even when they get older. They might say yuck when they get older but they still love it! My son at 15 still comes up and gives me hugs. Love, understanding and honesty. Not hurt tears and then hate. Sorry for the book! Laura

  5. Sarah says:

    For me it wasn’t my dad who brought me down, it was my grandpa. I was a little chubby when I was in middle school and he would point it out. If we were having a family birthday party and I asked for a piece of cake he would say, “Are you sure you want to eat that?”

    I’m certain that he helped me along with my eating disorder that I am now recovered from. :)

  6. Josie says:

    Maybe my input is biased somewhat considering my mum died in the middle of my ED, and for two years of living with it she was seriously ill.
    But anyway.
    My dad didn’t really play a role in the development of my ED. My mum did a bit (though i do not blame her, because of the circumstances). My dad has always been supportive of my path and doesn’t push me in any particular direction.
    However, he struggled with the concept of my ED, especially because i found it hard to talk about, and he has the media-perception of EDs (you can only have an ED if you’re emaciated and don’t eat, ever), so my issues were just ignored by him in the end.

  7. withlovebyli says:

    I won the lottery with my father. He’s gentle, soft-spoken, much older than my mother so he seemed wiser, kind, attentive, a fantastic listener, a silly joker and absolutely adorable. My father was not a contributer to my ED.

    When he found out about the ED, he was quite confused, was in denial about it for a few weeks and also had a few misconceptions. For instance, he wondered why I–someone who lived in a 1st world country—would purposely starve myself when our relatives back home in their 3rd world country were starving without choice. He called it selfish. I don’t think he realized it wasn’t about food. Once he was educated, however, he was very supportive.

    There were a couple of comments he’d make over the years that would sting a bit . I’ve been chubby all my life so he’d call me his “little pig” (in Spanish) and he’d poke my belly flab, giggle and inquire if I was going to do something about that. *rolls eyes*

    After a therapy session a year or so ago, I told him to stop because it was annoying and hurtful. He did and apologized, even felt bad that he made me feel bad about myself because his intention was not to hurt me. He assured me it was in jest and he only mentioned it because he was concerned about my weight.

    Yep, either than that, my dad’s been awesome. He took to heart not to comment on my weight ever, not to talk about food during recovery and to ensure I ate my meals with them.

  8. experimentia says:

    My dad is a troublemaker. If I’m 99 percent good, he will pick on that one percent flaw. When we talk on the phone, he always asks me how much I weigh, and asks me what I’m eating. He takes pictures of me eating fast food. He has a little rhyme that he teased me with when I was young, about how fat I was when I really wasn’t overweight at all. I was five for crying out loud. He was born in the 1930s, so he is still stuck in the mindset that women have to be in the kitchen. I know he wants the best for me, but the criticism gets on my nerves every time.

    My stepdad isn’t any better. He is a bully and will dig at weaknesses at every time he thinks someone isn’t watching. He called me a sow once in front of the family (I was 14 years old) and I haven’t forgiven him since.

  9. Nats says:

    I dont have a father.

    But if it were me I would remember that everything I did was being watched and listened to. I don think people fully understand how much of what we do and say even if it to ourselves that is being noticed.

    All parents can do mainly is pay attention to your children, when your little girl looks in the mirror and is horrified by what she sees be there for her, dont tell her she is being stupid acknowledge how she is feeling and talk through it with her without judging because we all know that eating disorders can start very young

    I hope you andyour daughter stay close for both your sakes because a little girl cannot grow properly without her daddy.


  10. MK says:

    Wow. What a touchy topic. But what did I expect over here at MamaVision?

    I think the advice is astute, particularly #1. You can bet you ass on that one.
    My father was a major contributor to many of my problems, not just the ED. My mother was as well, but her choice to remain a victim to my father’s tyranny had more of an effect than most of her other actions.

    Advice for a father of a daughter? I suppose the most important thing is to reiterate what MamaV already said: If you say it, she WILL remember it.

  11. Lily says:

    Weight was a big issue in my family- my dad was either overeating or on a diet my whole childhood. My mum was skinny with apparent ease. I was told I would never be happy if I ‘got fat’. That I would be ‘so sorry’ if I let that happen. When I first started dieting I was praised, despite being only 12 and of a normal weight.

    I got stretch marks in early puberty. I cried and cried about these marks that suddenly appeared all over my lower back, hips, bum and thighs. I had no one to talk to about them. I eventually showed my dad looking for advise, reassurance. I can never forget the disgusted look on his face.

  12. Katie says:

    I feel that most of my issues with weight came from my mother, but as I got older, things my dad said stood out to me more. I have never had an eating disorder, but my sister was bulemic and I was never very happy with my weight (until I got married). My mom was the one to make fat comments and tell me I was being lazy, while my dad was supportive and made sure to tell us that he was proud of us, etc. The trouble was in his taste for women. It wasn’t something I was aware of when I was younger, because after my mom left us, he committed himself to be single until my brother graduated from high school. He rarely made comments about women and their shape or weight or looks when we were young. Probably when I was around sixteen or seventeen, also the time that he and I started Body for Life, he started to comment more often. The women who he said he was attracted to were always thin and in shape. He focused more on the “in-shape” part, but they still looked skinny to me, especially compared to what I looked like. He never dated, so I was never exposed to a deeper look at his likes, but in the last year, he’s started looking for someone because my brother graduated in the spring. He met some women online and he would not communicate any further if they were plump at all. Of course, he would also stop communications if they had a crooked nose, bad teeth, were too tall, too old, had bad skin, etc. He is a perfectionist even about himself (braces in his thirties, body building into his forties, cosmetic dentistry to fix the look of his smile, a bit of cosmetic surgery to his nose – while having other surgery to fix a medical problem, dying his hair when he started to get grey, although he doesn’t do that anymore, etc.). The thing I found that most affected me was that he would comment on these women and all I could think was that they must weight fifty pounds less than me, so he must not think I’m pretty. It’s not as if I want my dad to be attracted to me, but I’d love to know that he thinks I’m pretty even when I weigh more. My sister was terribly underweight for a time, but I remember no praise for her when she gained much needed weight back, whereas when I lost twenty-five pounds, I got a lot of praise (although also comments about whether I was working out or not).
    My point is that dads need to be careful not only what they say to their daughters (because we are listening and will remember), but also what they say in reference to other women. If a man never says a thing about his obese daughter’s weight and says she’s pretty, etc. but then when he is with her comments on what a hot chick that was that walked by in a size zero….there is very real subliminal messaging going on there. Girls are smart, even when they’re very small, and the best thing their daddies can do is to support them and make sure they know they’re beautiful. My husband is even being careful with our daughter at two and a half to not call her lazy or chubby and to tell her that she is beautiful all the time…he knows how important that is because of the examples he has had in his life and because of my upbringing.

  13. Limafan says:

    My dad is the nicest guy in the world and he would never and has never called me fat. He doesn’t notice stuff like that. I went from 130 lbs to 100 lbs in 4 months and he was shocked when he found out after my mom took me to the doctor and told him.

    * I truly had no idea so many males look at this site, I thought it was 99% women. Hmmm. Cool.

  14. Tanya says:

    My advice for fathers (and mothers I guess) would be that no matter how good the advice you dole out is and no matter how well it has served you, remember that the world of a child or a teenager is a million miles away from the world you live in.

  15. Addicted to words says:

    I never had an eating disorder. I won’t even pretend to know what it feels like. But I do know somethings.

    Senior year of high school my overly involved but underly helpful guidance councilor called my father and told him that she was worried about my weight loss. His response:

    “She cant be anorexic, she’s not skinny”

    never ever will i forget those words

  16. Rachel says:

    I will reiterate one thing that has been said already for parents who come to this site:

    Take care what you say. Your children are listening and will remember every word. They will carry those words with them for a long, long time. Tell your children that they are beautiful. Nurture their self-esteem.

  17. mamavision says:

    Hi experimentia: Your story is a girl’s nightmare. I am so sorry for you, really.

    Remember this- it’s his issue not yours.

    Next time he calls and asks “What do you weigh and what are you eating?” – ask him the same question.

    Tell him to go to the kitchen where he belongs :)

  18. AlexaaA says:

    Well my dad i think might contribute to my ED…
    For him im just PERFECT.

    I have a sister who’s a real big mess, quit school to train dolphins, smokes weed, living with her boyfriend, she’s a hippe all peace and love and they get along great…and he’s always all over her, taking care of her, calling her on the phone everyday (my parents are divorced), coming to see her (he donesnt live in the city) i havent seen him in almost a year.

    Is just that im the daugther with who you never have to worry about anything never, im just perfect ad i do everything good. I’m always in control, think before do all i do, oraginzed, great notes in school, and a million more things that make me just perfect. He ignores me because im not a mess.

    And of course, i cant let him down and i have to keep being the perfect daugther for him (including being skinny and beautiful, you cant be perfect when you are ugly and fat, do you?)

  19. Kayla says:

    Personally I would recommend to any father, most important is to just be there. Be there after school to listen to all the gossip about whats her name who did this and that and know your daughters friends. Just be interested in what your daughter is interested in.

    My dad always told me I was beautiful, but he also always made little comments about how thin I was. It became my identity as the thin one. I knew that I was beautiful but somehow I translated his comments about my beauty and my thinness as interrelated. I was only beautiful because I was thin. He was also always obsessed with health foods.

    Also, I would say to fathers: be observant of things like eating habits and DONT be afraid to say something if you notice changes.(that goes for both mothers and fathers)

    When I was anorexic in high school, I thought I was so secretive and so clever, but it was so obvious. But both my mom and dad told me years later that they noticed things but they didnt want to make a big deal about things if they were wrong. But saying nothing is worse then saying the wrong thing. I thought I would just die if they found out, but deep down I was really hurt that they didnt even notice. I thought that I must not be doing anything wrong or they would say something.

    It shouldn’t be accusing, but if you do notice something alarming or just out of the normal, just be honest and caring. like, “I’ve notice that you …I just wanted to make sure every thing is ok…” they will probably be defensive and deny everything, but thats ok. They will still know that you care. They will. But until it becomes more drastic and harmful to their health where more action must be taken, just letting them know that you cared enough to notice makes a HUGE difference.

  20. Josie says:

    Alexa –
    maybe what you should do is tell your father how you feel. If he’s a good dad then he won’t feel dissapointed or let down by you – you’re a human being and are allowed to be imperfect.
    I say this because i see what you’re saying and the same thing happens in my own family. My sister feels inadequate and uncared-for sometimes because i’m “the mess” of the family, and my mum was seriously ill too. My sister was kindof the bottom of the priorities, what with my mum being inches from death, and me getting kicked out of school and phonecalls sometimes coming in saying “i’ve got your daughter…we’ve called an ambulance…” and whatever. But even if others in the family end up needing more attention for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean that those who (apparently) don’t have problems should miss out.
    Please tell your dad how you feel. xxxx

  21. Sass1948 says:

    yeah my dad’s the picky, giving mixed messages type. spent too long trying to figure him out, work with him, different tactics. Nothing works except ignoring him & not including him much in my life. Shame though. What I learnt? My dad has a very sad, lonely life, & hasn’t been lucky enough to work through his issues, like I am doing. His issues are really nothing to do with me at all :-)

  22. wish says:

    my real father left my mother when she found out she was pregnant wit me. She remarried when i was four to a man that began to molest me. Around the same age i really wanted to start dance classes but was told i was too fat and put in karate instead. As i grew up i was told i was a fat cow and other things. When my breasts began to develop and my figure began to develop (hourglass) he would make remarks about my body and that i needed to be careful that i didn’t get too fat.
    When i was eleven i quit eating at school entirely (i quit eating breakfast at around eight , lunch at eleven) and would only eat dinner once a week. Since i did all the cooking and cleaning it was never noticed.
    When i went to live with my grandparents after being taken away from my mom and step father my grandma would make remarks about the fit of my clothes and tell me that it was unattractive. My grandparents would ignore the calls from school ( Hi Mrs. C i was just calling to let you know that your granddaughter passed out in drama class and fell down the stairs.” or “Hi Mrs. C we just wanted to let you know that your granddaughter’s friends have come to us to let us know that she is cutting herself and not eating. She passed out again in drama class today.”) Often grandma would ask me if i was doing these things for attention so i learned to hide all my behaviors from her.
    My biggest advice to parents is not to make comments about weight around your little girls and too never tell them that they don’t have the right body to do something they love…
    sorry about the length

  23. Jamie says:

    My mom died when I was 11 so all I had was my dad. But when mom died no one was there for me including my dad. I was taught not to express my feelings so when all of this happened I just kept everything to myself. I think thats when the ed started. Its not the only thing that contributed to it though…at least I don’t think.

  24. Angelique says:


    I have this topic on my list of blog subjects to tackle over the next month or so — perhaps I could “snag” a virtual interview with you?

    In any case, my father didn’t realize that by calling others fat or unattractive he was sending me a message. (Or, rather, I heard a message.)

    I remember he used to take pictures of me when I was little. Then, he didn’t take photos of me while I was heavy. When I became anorexic, the camera came out in full force again.

    Perhaps it was all in my imagination. But does that matter?

  25. Courtney says:

    My father always tried to control me and didn’t want to let me grow up. His control was so severe that I began to rebel against everything. My eating was the only thing I felt I could exert independence over. To this day, I’m 21, he still tells me what to do, how to live my life, what to eat…and I would be lying if I said that I’m still trying to show that this is my life. I have control. If the only way to show that is through food then so be it. He wants a well-behaved, religious, conservative daughter. I will never be good enough for him because I represent everything that he can’t stand. Wild, liberal-minded, athiest…If he would just accept me and stop trying to conform me to his desired daughter mold. Instead I will forever be trying to show him that I just need him to step back and love me without judgements passed.

  26. WorkingDad says:

    I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments and advice. Obviously, it is a huge issue, and when I write about it again all the comments I read here and elsewhere will be helpful.

    Thanks again,

  27. Lolla says:

    My dad told me many times im fat…
    and yeah, as you said, i never forgot it. I always feel like im too ugly in his eyes, like he is ashamed to show me in public as his daughter.
    odd feeling, i know, but that just how i feel.

  28. damn dad says:

    I’m lucky that I never got too close to my dad, because it made it a lot easier to disregard him when
    -he pointed out ladies on TV with big boobs or tiny clothes (age 6-present)
    -he kept rewind/slo-mo/pausing nude Daryl Hannah when he rented Roxanne (age 7)
    -he exclaimed that my breasts were really starting to develop! (age 11)
    -he asked my mother to get breast implants (age ?-12) – happy to report she said “no”
    -he expressed solemn regret that he couldn’t afford to buy porcelain caps for my teeth (age 13)
    -he hopefully mused that there might be a wonder drug for my [mild] acne (age 14)
    -he helpfully (unsolicitedly) suggested that I could bleach my mustache (age 15)
    -he scolded me for not being more grateful of his attempts to control my looks (age 16 – present)
    -he began pegging all size 8+ females as fat and disgusting (age 18 – present)
    -he started conspicuously asking whether I’ve lost weight OR what I’ve been eating these days whenever I go home for Christmas – at a steady 120 / 5’3″ for 9 years? Or for that matter, on a body that belongs to ME, not HIM? Mind your beeswax, old man. (18 – present)

    yet, you’ll notice…not really that easy.

    My sister had a harder time avoiding his criticism, that she
    -dressed too much like a boy
    -dressed too much like a lesbian
    -should grow her hair out for christ’s sake
    -should wear a skirt for christ’s sake
    -shouldn’t go around in pants with holes like some kind of poor person
    -shouldn’t leave the house in stained clothes like
    some kind of bum
    -has such ugly friends
    -has such fat friends
    -needs to work on her “belly” (95 lbs at 5’3″? what belly?)

    Ha. Joke’s on him. She’s taken all his advice – except about the belly – she’s working on doctor’s orders to gain weight. Now, the magazines might call her “hot.” And she can’t stand him, either.

    Moral? Girls who like boys care what boys think, and they KNOW what the hell their father thinks of women. It just seeps out, gentlemen. Hopefully, more fathers are thinking about what’s INSIDE a woman, and letting it show. The ones who don’t…well, they need to get used to being hated.

  29. Isobel says:

    I don’t live with my dad, and so i don’t think he realises what it’s actually like to live with me and my sporadic eating. So when he realised I was finally going to the doctors to get some professional help for the annorexia I’ve had for the last year and a half, he went straight to my headteacher at parent’s evening and told her all he knew about it in his attempt to help me. Yet I wanted to keep it quiet. And I DIDN’T want the school to know, and was very upset when I realised what he had done, but at the same time I had to accept he was trying to help.

    My step-dad, who I live with as well as my mum brother and sister, has been amazing. He says he can’t understand why I have wanted to do this to myself and gets angry when I seem to be recovering for a couple of weeks but end up back in starvation mood. But he talks to me about it, and tries to explain that it would help if I looked at the wider picture. My brother has been supportive too, and both him and my step dad can think “outside the box” and that really helps me see things from another perspective.

    My mum on the other hand believes she is helping. But she has actually done nothing to help. I realised I had an eating disorder of somesort in august last year, and for a couple of months I thought about it a lot, weighed (no pun intended) the pros and cons of it etc. then decided in October I really wanted to get better but I knew by then that I needed help to do that. She refused (literally, I asked a lot) to take me to the doctors, and when my friend asked me if I had an eating disorder and offered to go with me to the local eating disorders association I went, but was then in trouble for going.

    And I’ve been getting excedingly mixed messages from mum. My stepdad says she has been very worried and doesn’t know what to do. I accept that, because I wouldn’t have much of a clue what to do if I was in her position. But I would like some support from her. For example, I’ve made a real effort recently to establish a more regular eating plan instead of only eating supper, and that’s been so hard for me. I have also put on 9lbs and I hate hate hate it beyond words.

    But she has given no recognition to the fact I am trying to keep going, and that I don’t have another appointment with my therapist for 4 weeks (so I’m kinda alone). She’s still in denial about the fact I have anything wrong, even though my BMI is 15.8 currently. In her words I need to “hurry up and get normal again”. Not better, not happier, but NORMAL. I just feel like she’s so embarrassed of me.

    Sorry this has deviated so much, but I thought it was kinda relevant to highlight the differences between mother and father figures.

  30. Jen says:

    This topic is extremely interesting to me, so I read every single one of the replies. I would like to say I am so, so, very sorry for so many of you (not that I feel sorry for you, but that I’m sorry what your fathers did to you). I wish you could have been able to have my dad as a father. He’s never once in my life made a negative comment about my appearance except for when I dressed inappropriately (skirt too short, shirt too low cut, etc.) and when I wore too much make up. That was it and he wasn’t even exaggerating, he was just being honest. He has never once called me fat or said that I needed to lose weight. His only comments about my weight have been when I’m underweight (5’6″, 95-104 lbs and just mentioning so you know that he wasn’t exaggerating that either). Even then, he says I need to gain weight in a very non-threatening and just concerned way. He has always been a healthy eater, but ate normally throughout my life. He has always wanted the best for me and has proved it through not only words, but through actions as well. I already knew how lucky I am to have a person like my father in my life, but after reading the replies, I feel even more blessed, but also sad because a lot of you had to experience a negative father figure. I guess though it doesn’t matter how great or wonderful your father was, because mine has been the best and I still developed an eating disorder and am still pretty underweight. But I know that if I hadn’t had him as a father I would be dead already. I sincerely wish the best for all of you and I hope you’re able to find a positive male figure like my dad.

  31. Julia Stone says:

    My dad cheers me on every time I drop weight. But only if he notices. Ten pounds in two weeks. I’m praised. I eat a second (tiny) helping and I’m berated for eating too much.
    He’s not even living in the same house as me and I still hear him telling me how to eat.
    The worst part is that when I dropped fifteen pounds in three weeks, his comment to me (I appeared in a play) was that “1950’s dresses suit the healthy thin, not the anorexic kind. That’s why they work for you.”
    I guess he didn’t realise what 15 pounds in three weeks meant.

  32. Julia Stone says:

    (Sorry, I forgot a couple of things)
    The real beauty in all of this is that I tried, several times, to get him to understand that I was semi-anorexic in eighth grade. Apparently if you eat one meal a day when you used to eat three, that’s nothing to be concerned about.
    Of course, I could also partially blame my formerly obese, now emaciated post-bariatric-surgery mother and every kid who’s ever called me fat or every guy who’s ever deemed me not worthy.
    But the one male in this world who is supposed to think I’m beautiful no matter what is my father. And it would seem that he doesn’t.

  33. Christina says:

    my dad has always been loving, and supportive of me. he pushes me sometimes, but only to do things like get involved in a play, or apply for a better job, things that i really do thank him for later.
    i’ve always been his favourite, so he confides in me, how he thinks my sister is too fat, and his girlfriend and him get along so well because they make fun of fat people. and all the while, he wonders why i’m so crazy about restricting my food.
    my mom defnitely taught me how to have an eating disorder, but my dad taught me how to keep it.

  34. abby says:

    my dad constantly criticized me, he and my mom seperated, he got fired and realized he didnt have any money. i been telling him to save his money cause he gave it all to my mom but he didnt care. now hes taking his frustrations out on me, he gets drunk and hits me. i tried to hit him back though.

    anyway since i still lived at home, he always stays at the kichen, watching tv. so when i try to get food, he would give out sermons on how wrong i was w/ my eating habits. he tells me not to eat meat, that it makes me fat, and tells me im fat because i eat at the wrong times.
    during the time he was saying this, i was 5’2 130 lbs.

    i might have been out out of shape but i was in no way obese, i didnt eat much, i just didnt work out. i was also out of a bad situation w/ a guy and it didnt end well, i was severely depressed and had almost nobody to talk to. im the kind of person who would rather not discuss her personal problems to other people, i am used to people telling me theirs.

    anyway right now im 105 lbs, ive developed bulimia in less than a year. i like how i look to be honest but i felt painful stomach aches..theres also a variety of health issues that is happening.

    my dad still says stuff about meat, saying how fattening it is, and that my sister is fat, or fat women are ugly. i dont comment about it. my dad used to work in another country and visited us 2-3x a eyar and he seemed like a good dad when i was growing up, but he and my mom fought a lot. all of it basically about other women (that i have not seen , or saw any evidence of). im not sure if she imagined it or it was real. but i think my dad is a sexist, but not misogynist. hes the type of guy who looks at a good looking woman even though hes with my mom. she doesnt say anything when he does it though.

    i was away for a month last year, and when i got home he told me “what happened to you? you look fat”. my friends told me “thats not the sort of thing you’d say to your daughter after you havent seen her for a month.”

    hes been so critical of me that when i wake up, and i’d feel so hungry but i dont leave my room cause i dont want to see him or hear him tell me im fat and tell me what to eat.

    hes the sort of guy who you dont know if you’d sympathize with or just plain hate and avoid.

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