A lovely, insightful comment on my last post got the ole noodle crankin’, and you know what happens next: I have to write it or it won’t leave my head.
Growing up, my room was right across from my mom’s and I could hear everything she said. Under the same societal pressures to be “perfect” we all are, she was always frustrated with her weight, a perpetual dieter. She never met an exercise craze she didn’t try, but I do remember the emphasis being more on weight than fitness. When she was getting ready I would hear her mumble (or sometimes yell) things like:
“I’m too fat and ugly to wear this in public.”
“I’m such a fat cow.”
“My ass looks like a bull-dozer in these pants.”
We’ve all done it. It’s just crap you say when you’re frustrated, tossing that third pair of *shrunken* jeans across the room.
Of course, when a young girl hears her mother say things like that, her mother who she thinks is beautiful and perfect, she does one thing:
She adopts that same self-criticism.
Her words became my inner dialogue, and my weight became my measurement of self-worth. It’s vicious and ugly to hear those things in your head. It stops you in your tracks. I had zero awareness of body issues and – in an instant – became so hyper sensitive to them I remember skipping school because I thought my body was unacceptable. I was a size 8. But I was curvy. I hated my curves and saw them as fat. I wanted to look like those no-booby-stick girls that walk the runway, because yeah, on top of everything else, this was the 80’s and I had media pressure to be a waif.
I remember once my mom joking and saying it looked like I had gained 10 pounds over the summer.
That stung. I was twelve, so my zoom lens on a comment like that was about 1,000X. That began the era of giant shirts to hide my body. The takeaway: never make an inference IN ANY WAY to a young girl’s weight.
Between girls being nasty to me in school, and the pressure to find a place, any-freakin-place, to fit in, I didn’t have a chance in hell. Not when I started out-of-the-gate with such negative inner dialogue and a horrible self-image.
*I just wish someone had warned her*
That’s why I wrote this. Because my mom had no idea her words were doing damage. She would never want that.
All of us make mistakes. Hell, I’ll probably make four today. But if this post reaches even one person who might be saying these types of things within earshot of a youngin’, whether it be about their nose, their value on this earth, or their weight….well, that would be everything.
**Happy ending. It took
thirty twenty a handful of years and the Frankenstein of patch jobs, but my self-image is intact and healthy. Oh, I still hear the negative voices. The difference is now, I don’t believe them. I have perspective on what true beauty is. And my diet and exercise goals are based on fitness and feeling comfortable more than a size on a tag. My therapist probably drives a Range Rover to her lake house, but who cares, right? Thank God for therapy.
What about you? Do you remember hearing anyone talk like that when you were little? How did it make you feel? Was weight, beauty, or perfection over-emphasized in your house? Please share. I value and look forward to your comments!