So, your mom is a dieter. Her issue – not yours.

There’s a lot of things I think of but I don’t post because I always try to add an image, add links, etc., etc. etc. Problem is that takes time, which I don’t have a lot of , and I miss this blog.  So, you’re going to get more writing, and less fancy schmancy stuff and we will see how that goes. Cool?

Todays topic: What to do when your mother is on a diet.

Here’s the scenario; your mom comes home from her coffee clutch all excited about joining Weight Watchers.  She is on a mission to lose 30 pounds, she’s pumped, and then she just happens to mention you could afford to lose some weight too.

Dead silence.

Your mind races about thinking; “I am happy with how I look (I am quite sexy actually) why doesn’t mom think so? If she thinks she is fat, well, I have her body, so I must be fat. She’s right. What have I been thinking. I am a fat loser…….”

Stop right there. Your mom’s weight issue, is not your weight issue.

Say it again, and say it out loud until you believe it. I see soooooo much of this going on today and its scary. Moms, Grandmas, Aunts, all sitting around fat chatting, talking about diets, all the while their daughters are sitting there listening intently, thinking;“I am one of them. I am fat too. I have to start a diet because they are and if I don’t they are going to tell me to. Plus Grandma is kind of big, if I don’t start now that is how I will look.”

Seeing that this is a blog focused on eating disorders, I am going to assume the majority of you out there don’t have the greatest body image. I am going to assume that somewhere, sometime, you started being down on yourself and your body, and you started spiraling down that hellish ED hole.

Please tell me how it happened?

Please tell me why it happened?

Did your mom (or dad) have anything to do with your body image?

Statistics show that mothers are the #1 influence on their daughters body image. Number 1 ; more influential than boyfriends, peers, anyone. So why do some moms not get it?

From my 40 year old mom perspective, its because they never learned to love themselves. They never had a role model to teach them about positive body image. Maybe they did feel great at one time, but with age, the lumps and bumps took over and it was hard to accept.

But regardless, it is your mom’s (and dad’s) responsibility to teach you how to have a positive attitude, love who you are, what you are, and how you look. If they aren’t doing that –worse yet, if they are actually telling you — you suck, you’re a loser, you are not worthy… I am here to say you have a right to find different role models.

You do. Look around and find one — maybe a teacher, maybe a cousin, maybe a friend’s mom. Find one, and find her quick — before your own mother sinks your self esteem.

Gotta run, headed to a meeting for girls and their moms about — self esteem and body image. :)

Love,

mamaV

About mamaV

Former Paris model providing advice for eating disorder sufferers who aspire to be thin, follow the proana lifestyle, and lack self esteem.
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18 Responses to So, your mom is a dieter. Her issue – not yours.

  1. anonymous says:

    I think that Mother’s who berate their children over their appearnace do not help and they should refrain from discussing weight, etc around them and it’s wrong- but I don’t think you can come out and say a person’s eating disorder is a parent’s fault. Plenty of kids are bullies and call kids fat on the playground- it’s mean and cruel, but it can’t alone cause an eating disorder.

    Statistics also show that eating disorders are complex biologically based psychiatric illnesses. You never seem to address this and only focus on Media influences. Things like parents and the media can fuel the fire and need to be acknowlged but are not to place 100% of the blame.

    I can tell you my mother was never ever a dieter, never ever called me fat. Yet, in my mid thirties, I have battled with an eating disorder since I was 13.

    I can’t tell you enough how many ed books I have read-most recently, Shelia and Lisa Himmel’s book- hungry… where the parents have only tried to be excellent role models and their daughters still have eating disorders. The mothers in these books mention how they are devastated when people like you and therapists immediately blame the parents. Jenni Schaffer talks about this in her new book- Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. A prime example of a girl who had wonderful parents who never called her fat but still struggled with a deadly eating disorder. You are generalizing.

    It’s not fair to blame the parents. You could call your daughter the most gourgeous thing on planent earth every day all day, and while I certainly don’t hope this is not the case, the reality is, she still could end up having an eating disorder.

  2. anonymous says:

    hope it’s not the case is what I meant- excuse my typo… but my point is you can educate your children as best you can on the dangers of any mental illness- substance abuse, ed… whatever, you can be the best positive influence that you can but the reality is your children could still end up having any one of these afflications and that is not their fault- it’s not the victim’s either, but it’s up to them to seek help, do the work, and turn it around. You are the one who says, you are responsible for taking care of yourself.

  3. FreeEternally says:

    So this is interesting to me right now. Today was the first time in almost a decade where my mother did not encourage me to watch my weight, watch what I eat, and think about losing weight. She came to visit me at college and for the first time ever asked me to try to stop losing weight and to actually eat more at a meal. I told her I can’t right now and its not that simple.

    Its not my parents fault but they sure as anything did not help the issue. They sometimes make things worse (like when they tell me to just make schedule and just eat, telling me to stop being such a brat and just eat something, and telling me that it is a sin to want control over my life, ect…)

    My personality, mixed with my family, mixed with my mood disorder, mixed with the chaos that has surrounded my life, mixed with a little encouragement and positive reinforcement for losing weight and dieting creates one eating disorder.

  4. anonymous says:

    Free- I know the just eat thing all too well- TRUST ME. I hate that crap. have a support system with a therapist and a nutritionist where these types of comments even at 35yrs old are OFF LIMITS by my family- and this is a family who never called me fat, and this is from a girl who never was fat in the first place. Just any comments are not welcome. I’m doing ok now, but when I wasn’t, anything about what I put in my mouth was just like- SHUT UP.

    I believe my anorexia stemmed from a combination of sexual abuse in my childhood and a rampant history of very serious substance abuse that ran in my extended family. One of My grandmother’s died from alcoholism- cirohiss I think it’s called. I did not, thank God, develop a drug or alcohol problem, nor has any member of my immediate family. But many of my cousins and 2 of my uncles have battled with mental illness be it either drugs, alcohol or depression related issues.

    I believe that I inherited the addiction gene that runs in my family- it just manifested itself in a different way- the form of an eating disorder. They say it often skips 1 generation, and tag I was it in my family.

    Yes- skinny pictures piss me off, yes, dieting comments annony me- be it from a parent or anyone else. It’s screwed up that there is so much emphasis on it and I agree, it is not a help. But not all those people it pisses off end up in hospitals- as was the case with me at one point.

    People with eating disorders do absolutely need to seek help and fight like mad to recover. They are abesolutely deadly. But the reasons why some people have them and some don’t are not as cut and dry as Mama V Makes it. It’s like I said to her earliar this morning- you can do your best, but it can’t prevent your child from the possibility of developing an eating disorder, or any other mental illness for that matter. If MV had never gone to Paris to model, she may have ended up having and eating disorder regardless.

    I guess my frustration is that when you advertise yourself as an activist against eating disorders, it is my opinion that you should have enough knowledge even if not a professional counselor or MD to discuss both sides of the issue. It’s really not ulike the nature verses nurture argument. Both arguments have their place and their logic, but she repeatedly only focus’s on one side and I think she could benefit from exploring the other one.

  5. Nats says:

    Ok, I see where you are going this mv, I do understand from what you have said that you are not actually blaming the parent/s at all, you are simply stating that if a parent has a weight issue its their problem not your ours?

    Well ok I agree with that, its very true, and sorry to say though that my ED HAS COME FROM MY MOTHER. Sod statistics, I am one of those people with an ED that has stemed from how my parents have treated me throughout my life especially my mother. Yes, not everyone will have this problem with their parents, I agree that parents could tell their children everyday that they are special and beautiful etc and they could still end up with an eating disorder im not disputing that, I am just saying that for me, what you have talked about mv is basically what happened with me and it should be her problem (my mothers) but I was at a very young age when this all started and it was something that I was convinced of over years that it was my problem too and I should have to pay for it.

  6. anonymous says:

    Well, maybe she’s not saying that- I don’t know. It’s hard to read her sometimes because she has a very sarcastic sytle. I hear her, it’s the parents problem, not the kids and they should avoid that kind of talk in front of them.

    But, I still firmly believe like the majoirity of the renowned experts in the world that I know and have worked with-and trust me- I don’t agree with them on everything or think all of their methods of treatment are always right or helpful, but I do agree with them on this- that things like media, society, coach/dance teacher/parent/kid bullying with lose weight you are fat comments are contributing factors to ED’s- not cause. Because on the flip side, I know many people who grew up with these kind of negative role models and never had an ED in their life. Just like I know many survivors of sexual abuse who have Ed’s and those who do not. I think that the reason behind why those who have been through the same kinds of trauma or abuse who develop ed verses those who do not lies within biochemistry/genetics.

    Much of it is genetic, and several tests at ED research clinics around the country have proven this, and I have been a participant in many of these tests.
    They are published in medical journals. I just feel like Mama V thinks all ed’s are caused by anorexic fashion models, mean parents & punk kids, and a diet obsesessd society and I think this is inaccurate.

    In the end, what matters is people get help. I just don’t like blame placing- maybe she’s not doing that but that is how it came across to me.

  7. mamavision says:

    Hi All: Thanks for the feedback — I am speaking to a particular audience of girls, many of whom have expressed here horrific stories of treatment at home that are blatant examples how parents own dieting and body image issues definitely start the ED cycle.

    That said;
    1) EDs are mental illnesses.
    2) In MOST case, parents have zero to do with the childs eating issues.

    Again,
    2) In MOST case, parents have zero to do with the childs eating issues.

    3) In SOME cases, parents have a lot to do with the child’s eating disordered behavior.

    I wrote this post in supporting those who are old enough to understand that their mothers/fathers are directly impacting their self esteem through weight related comments.

    I have been criticized and beaten down many times to not express this point of view, because some eating disorder organization’s do everything they can to reassure well meaning, innocent parents who would do anything to help their children, that their ED is not their fault. I agree and I support these organizations efforts– they are the experts.

    But we can not turn a blind eye to what is going on in society — we can put parents in categories. We can say some are detrimental to their child’s well-being, mental health, and body image. This is a point I feel adamant about after years of talking to literally thousands of girls.

    Do you know what ED proponents such as Laura Collins of “Eating with your Anorexic” say to that?

    You are dealing with teenagers. Teenagers don’t understand, they blame their parents for everything. They lie.

    Understood- but not in 100% of the cases. And I support Ms. Collins “Maudsley” approach — however;

    I trust the girls who write comments here and write to me privately, and I won’t respond back to them “You are a kid, you don’t understand yet, go back to your parent for advice.”

    If I did I would literally be guaranteeing their ED would escalate and perhaps take their life.
    mV

  8. anonymous says:

    Thanks MV- this helps. I am glad I was fortunate enough to have parents who went to bat for me to help me. I wish more People had ones like mine who did.

  9. anonymous says:

    Mama V- this is just nuts. Just about the bat shit craziest thing I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some crazy shit in my day, pardon my French.

    http://www.nj.com/suburbannews/index.ssf/2009/10/errico_of_garwood_pleads_guilt.html

    I know I debate you under the table sometimes and don’t always agree with you- but here is one thing I saw on line today just by a sheer fluke where I have to say, I agree that parents involvement in their children’s weight is just out of cotrol and definitely their fault in certain cases. Probabtion for murder? WTF? This has me seething. I have a hunch it might have you too once you read it, if you can stomach it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    i should have sent it to you via a message- I don’t want to get anyone upset- but I am an idiot when it comes to tech stuff and not sure how. You can remove it, I don’t mind at all and dont want to offend anyone, but I thought i would alert you to it given what you’ve been talking about.

  11. Maureen says:

    You asked for our stories, so since I have the time I thought I would share mine. I really don’t feel that my mom was a negative influence on my body image. She was bulimic for a very long time, all through her 20s I believe, so she was very conscious about how she could influence my body image. She didn’t even like me to have Barbies or anything. She made really healthy food for us, but she let us have treats too.

    However, I got really involved in gymnastics. I don’t have the body type to be an elite gymnast. I’m 5’6, and a bit curvy. I’ve never been overweight though. The role models I had looked a lot different from me. They were tiny, and I wanted to be like them. I’d say my dad contributed to my eating disorder more than my mom, commenting that I just didn’t have the right body for the sport I loved, but that maybe if I worked really hard I would still be able to get a college scholarship or something like that. Anyway, when I was about 13 I became bulimic, and I quit gymnastics when I was 14.

    Now I am 22, and my eating disorder is a part of my past most days. I still struggle with my relationship with food and my body a lot. My mom is really supportive about it all. She is a great influence, because I know she has gone through the same struggle as me, and I see how healthy and at home she is in her body now. I’m sure that simply because I have her genes, my mom contributed to my eating disorder. Eating disorders have a lot to do with both genetics and our environment, but as much as she could, my mom tried to give me a healthy environment to grow up in and I love her for it!

  12. Maureen says:

    I just read the rest of the other comments (after I already posted- sorry). I understand what everyone is saying about how MV focuses a lot on our environment, the fashion industry and such, and YES it is definitely true that EDs are a combination and an interplay between our genes and environment. Genetic factors should not be ignored. However, it is obvious that we live in a toxic environment where media, dieting, etc. is concerned. That is why Western countries have significantly higher ED rates than countries without the diet culture that we have. A harmful environment can act as a trigger to a disorder that otherwise may have lain dormant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I feel that my mothers poor self-esteem made mine worse. She was always on a diet, and still is. I have been to eating disorder treatment centres and she still asks me whether her diet is good, and brags about what she is eating. It’s sickening. I feel that the reason I may have been triggered by her and not my sister is that I was always more perceptive of what other people were feeling and thinking. I never heard my mom say I was fat, but I did hear about how her thighs always jiggle and how she is so fat, she just needs to lose x amount of pounds.

  14. Christine says:

    I am one of the people this clicks for. My mother had/has low to no self esteem. She was bulemic from the time she was 14. She had weight and image issues all her life. She passed them on to me. One year for my birthday I had a stomach virus and she told me that it was because I was always eating too much and it was my body’s way of telling me to give it a rest and she had my birthday party anyhow except of course I couldn’t eat anything. She complained about how fast I grew when she had to buy new clothes because my old ones didn’t fit. I started restricting and throwing up when I was 13. I got thin but even when I was a size 3 she said things and recommended I go to Weight Watchers like my grandmother and aunt. I never wanted to look like my aunt, she’d been skinny until she had kids and then she was fat. It was just one reason I never wanted to have kids. Anyhow, years and years later, I had two kids in my 30s and I’m trying to be a better role model for them and hello, yes, turns out I look more like my aunt than my mom. My mom would only gain 12 pounds with pregnancy so that when she delivered she would have a net weight loss. Ugh. She’s still skinny. Her mouth is full of caps and bridgework because her teeth fell apart. She has to take Nexium for the damage to her esophagus. She still takes laxatives every day. She still has no self esteem. I’ve had 20 years of therapy and I’m not much like her at all.

  15. bellzar says:

    I have no idea where it all started.
    I think it started from my interest in fashion, then eventually escalated to me perceiving thighs that don’t touch as the ideal, and fat-free arms as something to strive to achieve. It also had in large part to do with the fact that discussions about the female body among my friends were limited to praising a very thin parameter of what is beautiful – pun intended. My two closest friends both had eating disorders. One had been officially diagnosed and vehemently declared her hatred for anything fat without a second thought. And the other, someone who pretended to eat and lied about eating when actually they barely ate but claimed they ate like a pig.

    So once I got away from these two, I found sites like Jezebel and this one, and was able to at least begin recovery and realize that female beauty should not be defined and that it is actually in the best interest of capitalism and patriachy to confine and belittle women – not in the best interest of women.

    Recovery has been hard, the voice was like a best friend, however harmful. My eating disorder, although officially never diagnosed, was still very real and is something I still struggle with. I am about 3 months recovered and my ED took about 1 and 1/2 of my life. I am happy to be where I am, and I wouldn’t say that I am unhappy that I had an ED because who knows how I would be now. I love who I am now, and I suppose that’s all that matters.

  16. AthenatheNotSoWise says:

    My dad was excellent at making me feel like I wasn’t worth much, but it never came down to weight between the two of us because of his own consistent size issue. I never thought anything bad of him for that issue, as a child I thought that that was just how all dads looked, but as I got older my brother and I would pick on him for this flaw because we knew just how well attacking someones unspoken insecruties worked.

    My mom works mostly in jobs requiring maual labor that over time have made her rather buff, not Ulga the Ukrainia muscle woman buff, but fairly muscular in her own right. Every once in a while she’ll indulge herself on chocolate a little too much and complain about how her pants don’t fit for a week while she stops snacking and then she’ll go back to normal. She never goes on official diets, she never tells me I’m fat, and she only used to make joking comments when I would indulge myself in eating a lot of the foods I love. Now, she tends to be more sensitive about that, but after going through both extremes I’m doing my best to make her inable to point out either problematic eating pattern.

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