In The Zone

"She said she wasn't going to eat her dessert because she was going to the doctor in the afternoon and she would be weighed."

These are words uttered by my 8 year old daughter yesterday. The comment was made by a classmate of hers at GRADE SCHOOL.

My heart sank. This is it, this is where it all starts. No turning back.

But at 8 years old?? If you can't recall back, 8 years old is 3rd grade. Yes. All the stats show this is when body image issues start, and dieting comes into play, and girls self esteem across the land slide directly down the tubes with the rest of us…but somehow I wasn't expecting it. My girl was just born – wasn't she?

What do we expect when every New Year everybody and their brother is pitching the latest diet, Oprah herself is beating herself bloody over weight gain, TV is plastered with YOU ARE A FAT ASS ads, and Amazon carries over 14,000 diet books. Lord help me.

But then…

"We are too young for this. It's ridiculous."

Words uttered again – not by me – by my daughter.

I asked "Why?" as a smile spread across my face.

"We just are. We are kids. We aren't supposed to be thinking about that stuff. Because we are kids."

"That's right babe. That's right." I said knowing its best to hold back my over the top emotions on this subject.

As I looked at my angel face girl, I was so proud, and so scared, butterflies fluttering in my stomach. But then, this unexpected confidence came over me. We will be ok, we will work through these ugly years together, just like my mom and I did,

At least, that's my hope.


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20 Responses to In The Zone

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand this blog. I used to post here last year, and I just find it so…superficial. Why are you asking us about medication? are you going to post another sensationalist skimming-the-surface post about such a re-hashed topic as whether we should take medication for mental health problems?
    and 8 year olds talking about weight is not news- everyone talks about weight.
    I guess it just exhausts me, and I should probably stay away. This blog is such a ‘put on a bright face’ pop-psych dose. You give out about Oprah? thats what she is all about too- promoting this ‘you can be happy too’ drivel.
    There is no such thing as a this destination called ‘happiness’. Reading a ‘you should feel happy’ article does not make you happy. If it worked, well, people would be all better wouldn’t they. Life is a struggle, everyone struggles. It is what is known as the human condition. And it is okay to struggle, we don’t have to tell ourselves we should be feeling this thing called happy every second of the day.
    And wasn’t this blog supposed to be about eating disorders? You claim to have had one. Having suffered with one for more that 10 years now I really find it hard to believe that. You did some miserable dieting for a while. Everyone is at it, and yes, its concerning, this what you term ‘social anorexia’ which isn’t anorexia at all. Our world is diet obsessed. But thats not where the eating disorders are coming out of. It runs a just a bit deeper than that, and far deeper than this blog seems to be able to reach.

  2. Michelle says:

    I don’t think these blogs are about finding happiness.
    I think they are about finding joy and content in your life. The part of life where you don’t have to worry about the superficial life that the world leads. You are content with whatever is thrown at you.
    Sure you are going to be sad. You aren’t always going to be happy. You’re going to suffer. Being different than the rest of the world instantly means suffering. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be content with it, though.
    Happiness is a fleeting moment in time.
    Being content is lifelong.
    I never thought I would be able to grasp that idea, but I finally did.
    I hope that addresses some of your concerns, I am obviously not MamaV, so I can’t give you all the answers, but that is just my take.

  3. Hi L: Answers to your frustration:
    1) I am inquiring about medication because I am on it and have been for the past 5 years. Anxiety has been my struggle for years, and I would like to discuss this topic on the blog so I would like to know what the readership is made up of.
    2) 8 Year olds talking about weight is news when it is my daughter. 8 year olds dieting is news – damn it, because if we accept it we are dead in the water.
    3) I let this blog go where it takes me. I apologize that the direction is not to your liking and appears superficial, but honestly I don’t give a rip.
    I know I have been branching out on other topics, well beyond ED’s but it is because it is fun, and I truly enjoy hearing the opinions of others. The day this stops being fun and I don’t receive private emails that I am helping is the day I will quit blogging.
    4) As to my experience with eating disorders, you are correct, I don’t know what type of ED I had. I starved myself and exercised the shit out of my body for a time period of my life. It stemmed from modeling no doubt, but your insinuation is rude.
    5) Social Anorexia exists and again if we throw our hands up and say “can’t do anything about it” – we are screwed.
    I don’t feel like sitting back and doing nothing, so I am doing something, and frankly – if you don’t like it- go pound sand.
    And finally, a question for you- what exactly are YOU doing to help others?

  4. missA says:

    I have to say that I am quite disturbed by some of the comments that have been made today. It seems as though no one is open to listening to anyone else’s opinions. I’m just not sure what to make of it.

  5. Two things:
    1. It sounds like you don’t have to worry too much about your girl. From what I gathered, she seems to get it.
    2. To L, keep in mind that the first rule of blogging is the blogger makes the rules. It’s not a newspaper, magazine, or talk show. It’s not a multinational corporation. The blog is as organic as the organism that writes it. You are free to read and free to leave.
    If for whatever reason you disagree with a post or the blog itself, you’re certainly entitled to a full refund of the money you paid to subscribe. :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I sent you private emails last year. You replied briefly to one and then never contacted me again.
    I work with adults with Intellectual Disabilities and I hope I do make a difference.

  7. Jen says:

    MamaV: What’s really scary is working in a school and constantly hearing 5th and 6th grade girls talk about weight and diets. Most of them like to talk about how good they were for not eating lunch. It’s even worse with my 7th and 8th graders. So scary. Recently I heard one of my 6th graders make a pact with her friend to make more “ana” youtube videos. Nice, huh?

  8. Hi Jen: This is why we can’t just sit back and watch. If we impact even one girl with their body image through listening, understanding, and support – its worth it.
    6th graders know about “ana,” when the majority of parents have no idea what it is. I even asked a therapist last year if she knew about the pro ana trend and she didn’t even know.
    Sad and scary,

  9. Smudgeruk says:

    I have a friend whose 7 year old announced she was going on a diet, because she was fat. Another girl at school told her she was fat and ugly.
    Bear in mind, this girl was and is a normal size for her age. Her mother, my friend, was horrified. She wonders what she’s done wrong. There again, I remember deciding I was fat at the age of 9 or so, and began a recurring cycle of throwing away my lunch, then binging in the evening. As for what topics this blog covers, i’m all for branching out into other issues. I think it’s important to remember that we are not ‘just’ eating disordered people, our lives are about so much more than that.

  10. anne says:

    ED’s are neurobiologically-based illnesses. There are factors in our environment that may maintain them in people that are genetically susceptible…such as certain sports (cross country, ballet, gymnastics) or certain activities (modeling). However, these activities do not CAUSE them. Do you see the difference?
    Young girls are exposed to a lot of media about weight-related topics. I’m not sure anything has been found totally successful to date in the prevention sense. This is something that is being worked on and researched. IF you have a family history of ED’s, anxiety, depression, you may be more at risk and families should be aware of that. It does not mean you will end up ill. It does mean if you begin to show signs of the illness, it should be taken seriously and addressed immediately.
    While it is still not common, young children can sometimes develop ED’s. The best prevention, in my mind, is good self-esteem and open communication between loved ones. This is easier said than done because we are all born with varying amounts of it and differing personalities. We don’t start at the same spot. Whatever can be done to boost self-esteem, in a genuine, low-key and honest way, is good. But, the tricky part of course is, the person has to really feel it inside, to own it themselves.
    And, if an ED does end up happening in a family member, it does not mean the family is at fault. There are no perfect families out there, but neither are they the cause this illness–no more than families cause autism, schizophrenia,cancer. No greater love has a family–whatever the illness–than to stand by their loved one and to fight it with them.

  11. Melissa says:

    Wow, just wow. MammaV, keep doing what you’re doing. I know you will!
    As for your daughter, she is in such a good frame of mind and it will carry her into a healthy future. It’s awesome she realizes just how ridiculous it all is.

  12. Rachel says:

    I think that the DSM IV criteria for Eating Disorders needs a major overhaul. ED’s are so much more complex, with so many more levels than the manual says. I whole-heartedly believe that EDs are more than just something genetic. Frankly, I think trying to blame our genes is the easy way out- it allows us to pretend we have no responsibility for our own wellness, and therefor we can blame our genes for it when we can’t seem to get better- its not our fault- we can’t help it. I think its crap. Fighting my ED was one of the hardest battles of my life. And I am STILL fighting it- but its MINE to control. MINE to say whether or not I let the nagging voice in my head get the best of me. MY choice- not my genes, MINE. I think the problem is that it is perfectly normal for a woman to hate herself and her body- therefor any disordered eating she has is normal too, because nearly ALL women do it.
    I think too many people want this to ONLY be a genetic thing- like its special, a super power “hi, my name is Rachel, and my super power is to starve myself to death, aren’t I special”. I get it- because for a long time I thought my ED made me special. But it doesn’t. BEING YOU makes you special. And the ED just takes you away.

  13. anne says:

    I don’t believe this Rachel. I’ve never hated my body. Ever. And I’m not perfect, and never have been, by society’s standards anyway.
    You just can’t dispute twin studies. They are the gold standard of research. I am not negating choice entirely either. You can choose to start on a path to wellness. So can a heart patient. And that person didn’t necessarily pick their tendency to heart disease either. That person can choose to exercise moderately, etc. A diabetic can choose to control the illness by practicing good medicine management. We all have choices. But not everyone’s risk levels are the same at the start.
    I never saw the ability to starve oneself as being special. I saw, and still see, it as an illness.

  14. mamaV says:

    Hi Smudgeruk: You said it best – I think it is very, very important to not be defined by your eating disorder.
    Discussing other topics diverts your attention for a while, expands your world view, and is just plain healthy.
    Thanks for your support!

  15. Wow, so young. I am sure your daughter will be fine, but you know what, at least she has a mother who understands eating disorders. My mom is clueless when it comes to them. She just doesn’t get it. At least you would know what to say to her.

  16. CatieH says:

    I as well believe that you and your daughter are going to make it.

  17. Nichole says:

    That brought tears to my eyes. Thats amazing! you must be proud of your daughter.

  18. anon says:

    Cute, Charlie Hill. Thanks for clarifying blog etiquette.
    I don’t know L and have no reason to defend him/her. But in finding L’s post honest and diplomatic, I don’t see why, Charlie, you feel the need to act as police of the post? You state that “you are free to read and free to leave,” but are you free to respond? Or is that only in the case that you follow the “rules”? What happened to freedom, Charlie Hill? Obviously, one needs not read the blog if one chooses not to (but again, thanks for pointing that out).

  19. eshoe says:

    My old co-worker asked me how to deal with her 9 year old who was worried that her thighs were too big and that she was chubby (she’s completely normal for her age).
    All I could say was, “LOVE HER”. And pray like there’s no tomorrow.

  20. Lysa says:

    Hey mamaV :) I love your blog immensely, and have gotten SO MUCH out of it. You have helped me through some very difficult points in your life.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I mentioned you in a recent blog entry, and quoted the above comment that your daughter overheard. You inspired me to take up the pen (or keyboard) in defense of us all.
    Here is the link to my entry, if you are interested in reading it:
    Thanks for your beauty and talent; you are incredibly strong, and I am so inspired by you. Keep up the good work!

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