Dear Mom, please stop talking about your weight.
Stop talking about losing weight.
Stop telling me that you feel fat, that you are fat.
Just stop. Please. Stop.
I think that learning to love yourself is something that every single mother needs to do (I mean, everyone should learn this, but Mothers especially because they will pass it on…). I understand that having children does not make you immune to body-hatred, but just take a moment to think about how you are inadvertently impacting your child’s body image.
The first time I ever became aware of body-shaming was in a change room at the local Sears when my mom was trying on pants and saying “if I wasn’t so fat, these would fit”.
As an innocent, bright eyed six year old who saw nothing but beauty in my Mother, I replied by telling her “you’re not fat, Mommy”.
She brushed me off and sternly told me “Yes, I am”. The lessons to be learned?
1. Fat is bad.
2. Fat is a way of being.
3. Being fat is absolutely unacceptable.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but internalizing these messages would later come to threaten my life in the form of an eating disorder.
Dear Mothers, please stop with the negative self-talk and the self-hatred. How can you ever hope for your sons and daughters to love themselves if your lessons only teach them how to self-hate? Self-love is something that we learn just like everything else. Self-hate is something we are socialized to do. We pick ourselves apart until we see nothing but flaws. It’s a vicious cycle being passed down from one generation to the next without even realizing it.
Dear Mothers, you are our role models. You will teach your children how much love they are allowed to have for themselves and then they will teach their children and so on and so forth. You learned your lessons of self-love from your own mother and while she may not have taught you the best lessons that doesn’t mean that you have to pass on the messages of self-hate to your own beautiful children.
I personally continue to struggle with disordered eating; although I’ve definitely made some improvements in the past two months. Despite this progress though, the one thing that still sets me back is when I hear my Mom criticizing her body. I’ve tried to gently remind her that health is a better goal to have than weight loss. I think saying “I want to be healthier” is a much better message to send than “I want to be skinnier”. A lower weight does not necessarily equate to a healthier body and I desperately wish my own Mom would understand that and reflect it in the way that she talks about herself, especially when she knows how dangerous weight loss fixation can be for me.
I am not a mother, nor do I claim to know anything about raising children; but I AM a daughter who has spent her whole life growing up watching my Mom hate every single inch of her body, so I think I know a thing or two about how damaging a mother’s self-hate can be. While I do not even remotely blame my mom for my eating disorder, I know without a doubt that she was the first person to ever introduce me to the idea that my body was anything less than perfect. I do not think that she ever intended for this to be the lesson that she passed on to me, but it was a lesson she taught me time and time again.
If there is one lesson that I intend to teach my Mom it would be this: you are allowed to love yourself.
Dear Mom, please learn to love yourself just the way you are.