Life Changing Words

This morning I read something that has shaken me to the core of my being.
I was reading a post at Blogher by Denise on a book titled “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.”
This subject is near and dear to my heart, because I am a mother to a daughter and I am a woman who has spent the majority of her life hating (not feeling comfortable with) her body.
The last line of her post knocked the wind out of me and I’ve been crying every since I read it.

More than 1/2 of American women 18-25 would prefer to be run over by a truck or die young than be fat. More than 2/3 would rather be mean or stupid than be fat.
Would you rather be mean or stupid than fat? And what, exactly, is “fat”? 5lbs overweight? 50lbs? At what point would you rather be dead… if you’re a mom – at what point would your daughter want to be dead? Have you asked her?

It is quite possible that those words–that ONE question– has forever changed me.
I want desperately to put into words WHY it has affected me so deeply, but I’m having a hard time doing that.

Perhaps the answer is really as simple as this: “I don’t ever want my daughter to feel the way that I have felt for most of my adult life about my body.”

I may not have ever wished to be dead rather than fat, but in so many ways, I have been dead. I’ve locked myself in my house, I’ve avoided people that I love, I’ve stayed home from celebrations like weddings and birthday parties and turned down invitations to nights out with friends because I was too ashamed to be seen in public as a fat person/

I wasn’t always overweight but I felt shame about the way that I look. But now I AM fat and I struggle to come to terms with this body.

I hate it.

I will always hate being fat. I am uncomfortable. I hate that my thighs rub together when I walk. I hate that I can feel my belly hanging when I sit down. I hate that I can see lumps in my arms when I look in the mirror.

But does that have to mean that I hate who I am? And that I have to walk around feeling like I need to apologize to the people in my presence for being fat?

Sometimes, I feel like my Body Hate is a drug and I am addicted. I wasn’t happy when I was thin. I’m not happy when I’m fat. I am ashamed that I feel this way about my body. I hate hurting people that I love and yet, everyday, I wake up and make a choice to hate myself for being fat.

As I’m writing this out, it doesn’t even make sense to me.

I’ve made some positive changes in regards to this issue. I’ll give you one example. I used to use horrifying language when talking about my body and I have made the choice not to do that anymore. But even though I don’t talk about myself in that manner anymore, I still feel that way about myself.

My daughter is watching me, she is learning from me and even though I may not walk around saying terrible things about myself like I used to, I most certainly am not living life to it’s fullest because of my weight.

At what point would your daughter want to be dead? Have you asked her?

I keep hearing those words running through my head and I want to change. RIGHT NOW.
For good.

I have tried so many times to change, to learn to love my body. But I’ve never really and truly found the answer. Is there an answer? There has to be answer.

Perhaps the answer is that I have to learn to be content. Content with who I am as a human being, not with what size jeans I wear.

I have to stop focusing on the negative and the feelings I have in regards to my body   and start thinking about the people in my life who love me, the people who I have hurt deeply because of my body issues.

I have to start thinking about my children– especially my daughter because I don’t ever want her to say she’d rather DIE than be fat.

68 thoughts on “Life Changing Words

  1. Abbey P

    That was maybe the most real, honest, close-to-my heart post that I have ever read on any of the “mom” sites. I don’t know you, but feel you. I may never meet you, but I walk beside you in this journey. We are the same size, both have 3 kids, and both have had issues with body image. I have never posted before, but this one post pushed me to it. You, in your journey, have affected my journey, and now I see too that I can also change. I hope that I can for my daughters.
    Thank you Yvonne. You are so much more then your Kohl’s jeans.

  2. Sara

    I don’t know if you can ever help the way that you feel. Feelings are what they are and simply “choosing” to change them doesn’t always work. You’re not a robot.
    The only choices you can make are with your behaviors, which you are doing. This is what took me so long to understand after being pissed off all of the time when people were throwing stuff like “But that’s your CHOICE, Sara!” down my throat. That’s where the challenge comes in with acquiring new habits and breaking the old ones.
    The feelings you have may never go away, but know that Gabby is in a COMPLETELY different situation than you were growing up and she’s going to deal with her body image differently. I mean, she has to, right? LOVE YOU IN CAPS.

  3. Danielle

    You are so right. I’ve working on this for so long and I don’t think that I’m getting any closer but at least I’m trying.
    My daughter is 2 years old and watches me step on the scale. I try not to say anything but I know that she watches.

  4. Kandace

    Y – I’m in the same boat. I wish the answer was simple or there was a way to get rid of feeling ashamed of our bodies. I have yet to figure it out. I have decided that this next go at weight loss is def based on healthy choices and not so much the scale or the number on my jeans.
    Love you for you not the size of your jeans because your readers and I’m sure your family and friends love you no matter what that tag says!

  5. Sara

    I seriously did not mean to get all preachy up there. And “the feelings you have may never go away” on its own is a total buzz kill. I meant to add that they may never go away, but it doesn’t mean they will be as frequent. And? I know you know all of this, just feeling for you. FEEEEEELIIIIINGTH. I seriously think I’m using your comments section as my new blog. I will now apologize for annoying the people that read your comments and disappear.

  6. DebbieS

    Bravissima! I totally get you on the self-hate. Do you know, I can actually feel my jeans getting tight after I eat a cookie? Talk about neurotic! Know what else sucks? Most of the time, I still look the same to myself in the mirror as I did 55+ pounds ago. I have to take pictures of myself just to see what I look like. And I have a beautiful daughter that I have to clean up my damn head for before I screw her up, too! So I get you on the fear, too.
    Just remember, no matter how painfully you have gained (no pun intended) your self-awareness of your worth vs. your body weight, you do possess that wisdom, and your daughter will reap the benefit. Don’t you think it’s better in a way for her to have had a “fat” but sensitive mom, who’s “been through it”, rather than one who was always slender and never had to deal with body image problems? Guaranteed, any girl growing up in this country is going to have them at one point or another. So it’s at least nice that our daughters will know that we can empathize as well as sympathize.
    Just my two cents’!

  7. ElizabethSheryl

    Yep, exactly, we are NOT our jean size..we are not our double chin or the food that we eat.
    *big big hugs*
    You are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like you! (Seriously though)

  8. Procrastamom

    I read that post at Blogher also. I’m the same size as you Yvonne and I just don’t know. I don’t know where to even begin to stop hating this body that I have. I don’t know how to stop eating. I don’t know how to stop putting myself down in front of my own two girls. I’ve been meaning to put all of these feelings down in a post and maybe this is MY jumping off point. Maybe you’ve stirred something in me.
    (God. I’m eating a fucking peanut butter cup as I type. F.UG!)

  9. Jessica

    Wow. So many emotions right now. I’ve felt that way about myself all my life, even when I dropped 180 lbs four years ago. I’m up to 357 lbs. right now and am desperately trying to lose it, not only for health reasons (I was just diagnosed with high blood pressure), but because I look at myself in the mirror and think, “My God, you’re f**king ugly.” I don’t have a daughter YET, but I don’t want to put my hangups on her if I ever have one. However, I DO want to be at a healthier weight so I can keep up with my son (and any other children I have), and watch him grow up.

  10. Susan

    Oh, how I understand. I have hated my body my whole life. I have always been “sturdy,” or “big boned,” even at a size 5 (YEARS AGO), or an 8, more recently. I have been everything from a 5 to a 24, and I have hated my body at every, single size.
    The worst part? My beautiful daughter was told at her 8-yr-old well check that she is “slightly overweight.” OMG, HOW could a dr. SAY THAT to a child? A little GIRL? A little girl who already covers up because she too hates her “sturdy” legs?
    Not only that, but she’s hardly overweight at all! She is not thin, but she’s not really chubby. Slightly chunky thru the middle, but more like baby fat than anything. She eats healthy! And not too much. And she exercises and cheerleads! What more can I do – you know?
    Her first words through the door that day were, “Guess what, mom. The doctor said I’m overweight.”
    BTW, here’s that enormous daughter of mine (the girl on the far right, up in the stunt):
    I don’t care if she’s 200 lbs, tell MY HUSBAND — not HER — that you’re concerned about her weight! You know? What is WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
    Vent over.
    I feel your pain…

  11. Kris

    You mean we’re really supposed to like ourselves? All these years I’ve been doing it wrong?
    I know my daughters feel my pain – and they’re only 7 and 10. And it makes me die inside a little each day.

  12. Gabby

    Oh My GOD!!!
    I can totally relate to this post. I am a mother to three beautiful kids and can NOT keep the weight off no matter what I do. There are days that I get so depressed because I am fat that I just want to lay in bed and sleep. I know my kids need me, but I dont have any willpower to get off the bed and do something about it.
    Y, you are not alone in this world.
    Love you for being so honest.

  13. tulip

    Love you Y. Seriously. As the mother of a 3 year old who’s just now picking up on that stuff this was a good wake up call for me too.

  14. Brandi

    You are a beautiful woman and I am glad that someone has finally gotten that point through to you. 🙂
    Your kids love YOU and, if you strive to lose weight, it should be because you are wanting to be more healthy vs. “I’m a fat cow and no one likes me.” That’s not a message that they need to see. And, when your sons are old enough and they meet and marry a girl, you will know that they are not going to be one of those guys who drops a gal for a few extra pounds….they will know that weight does not make a person unworthy of love. It’s funny how we think it does though, isn’t it?

  15. michelle/weaker vessel

    Word. Motherfucking. Up.
    Do you think this entire post would fit on a bumper sticker? A t-shirt maybe? How about a tattoo? ‘Cause that’s how fucking rad and right-on it is. WORD UP, woman. I’m just going to copy and paste this any time I see any of the beautiful, miraculous denizens of the blogosphere kvetching about their (in the grand scheme of things) tiny physical imperfections.

  16. Jenn

    I hear you, lady. I gained about 30kgs after I gv birth to my two girls. Not a day goes by that I don’t look in the mirror and want to eat another bowl of rice.
    I blogged a few weeks ago about how it is my own damn fault that I’m obese at 34 (I weigh about 100kgs) and nobody else’s because when you are 34 and still not taking care of yourself, really, what excuse do you hv? Who or what do u blame?
    I am losing weight today, going for jazzercise classes and controlling my diet because I NEED TO PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH with my girls. After all, here I am banning them from candy and ice cream, telling them to drink more water and eating more fruits and veggies. I cant be a hypocrite – with myself, maybe, but not with my kids.
    I have only lost two sizes in the last 18 mths, while my husband lost 10 just by cutting down carbs.
    But I’m getting there. I must!!

  17. Janice

    Gaining weight after 40 happened to me. Before that I was never fat. I ranged from skinny to average. I guess that is the reason I don’t think like someone who has had weight issues for a longer time. I just need to get off my butt and move. It’s so hard to be motivated alone. I have 2 teenage boys and I never make disparaging comments about myself when I’m with them. Women come in all shapes and sizes and they need to know that is reality. I think we are harder on ourselves than anyone else can be.
    Would I like to be thinner? Yes, just for better fitting clothing. Do I let my weight stop me from anything? No.

  18. Lisa

    It is posts like this one that keep me reading. Thanks for putting some of my feelings into words.
    It is truely amazing what we do to ourselves and what we do to those around us.

  19. Maria

    (((((Y))))) Beautifully written.
    I can’t think of better motivation than for your daughter because … I was that daughter that had those thoughts.

  20. Heather

    Another powerful post. I don’t know how it is that we can keep the people we love from being affected by our body image issues. My mother never liked her body. She was careful not to talk about it, and she NEVER, EVER made me feel like my body was anything but beautiful. She never talked about weight loss or made big issues about me not gaining weight. All the same, despite being thin all the way through high school, I thought I was fat and I hated my body.
    Now, I actually AM fat and still dislike my body as much as ever. I know it bothers my husband. And the worst part is that it isn’t the weight that bothers him. It’s the way I feel and act about my body. It’s how I shy away from intimacy because I don’t want him to see me or touch me.
    I have gotten better, and now that I am pregnant for the first time, I am finding it harder and harder to feel negatively about a body that is growing a child! All the same, in the back of my mind, I have already made a thousand promises to myself about what I am going to do after the baby comes….
    Anyway, thanks for another chance to see that we are not alone in feeling this way.

  21. geeky

    My mom’s best friend recently lost a lot of weight. She looks fantastic, but at the same time she walks around talking about how disgusting she looks from all the extra saggy skin. My mom and I spent a weekend with this woman and her (slightly overweight) 13 year old daughter. At least 3 times in that weekend, the two of them would start arguing over who was more disgusting and gross. My mom finally took her friend aside and said to her, “Do you realize that when you talk about your body and how disgusting it is in front of your daughter like that, that she feels HER body is disgusting?” My mom’s friend had never thought about it that way, and now she’s vowed to change her ways. I hope you and she are both successful in your struggle to change your body image, for yourselves and for the sake of your daughters.

  22. Operation Pink Herring

    I was never “fat” in reality, but I thought I was, and as a result I became anorexic and came within an inch of dying. Now that it’s years behind me and I can call myself fully recovered, I’m actually grateful for the experience, because I don’t spend time worrying about my body and hating myself for being 5lbs over my ideal weight. It’s just not important. And it makes me so sad to see so many women (and men) spending so much precious time hating themselves.
    You rule, Y.

  23. Dee

    i’m glad your eyes were opened on this one. i’m also so glad, because you sharing your experience makes me reflect on this important issue/idea. i too have serious body issues, but i’m working on them. it helps me to read your blog.
    i think anyone who has hated their body needs a reminder that our vision needs to be expanded beyond our own person. i would never want my (future) child to talk to themselves the way i talk down to myself/about myself.
    thank god for people that write/say the words that serve as our “wake up calls”.
    i’m sending you some big Southern Girl hugs, Y. ‘m glad to be along with you on your journey.

  24. anonlurkermom

    i remember being in a health club locker room and noticing a plus size gal laying out her underwear before showering and thinking “she’s too fat to have such nice underwear” because i would never allow myself such nice things because i was so fat. how sick is that?

  25. Jennifer

    A lot of the same things run through my head. I had a mother who let me know very early that I was overweight, like at age 4. I was always the tallest, biggest kid in my peer group until the boys FINALLY hit puberty. I’ve hated myself ever since.
    I didn’t worry about passing on my screwed up issues to my son-it just didn’t hit me. He’s a lot like me at that age-almost off the charts for height, and right in the middle for weight. However, the new baby is a girl, and I’ve spent tearful days and nights thinking about how I don’t ever want her to fee like this. To not want anyone to see her, to hate looking in the mirror. I’m so scared to repeat the cycle.
    Thanks for getting this out there-and being aware enough to see what can happen. I wish that we could all find a way to accept what we are. I hope that you can-you deserve it.

  26. Jennifer

    Your post and the comments make me feel I am less alone. I, too, have a daughter and struggle with body issues and their effect on her.
    I try to emphasize health, eating well, etc, but I know, at the end of the day when I look down at the scale with dismay that that is the real effect I am having… the focus on the number, the dismay when it’s too high… It has to stop.

  27. anne nahm

    Hi Y. Makes sense to me. My heart breaks for your struggle.
    Here is something that happened to me that really, really helped me get a toehold on negative thinking. I don’t know if it will help you, or you have heard it before, but what they hell, right?
    I once saw a speaker who was talking about people who cut on themselves. Not being a cutter, I was kind of horrified to see the pictures and hear the video of people talking about being addicted to cutting. There was a lot of other emotional stuff involved, but what the speaker said was that you can actually get physically addicted to cutting because it releases adrenaline.
    So if a person is feeling depressed and disconnected, they can cut themselves, feel the pain, realize they are still in their own body, and get an addictive rush from their brain. Because, you know, as far as your body knows, what the hell? Just got cut. Send out the chemicals!
    That is pretty much all I know about cutting, except a few years later, someone told me that inside your brain, cutting and anxiety producing thoughts might work in a similar chemical manner.
    Like if you call yourself a ‘fat pig’, you cringe, your heart flutters, your head pounds and you cry. And some of that is fueled by adrenaline release.
    The idea was that , horribly, you can get addicted to the adrenaline that squirts out when you call yourself a really bad name, or think of a really terrible ‘what if’ or any anxiety-producing thought. It’s not fun, and I don’t too many people are out there like they are at Disneyland, going, “wheeee! Fat Bastard! Oooooohhhh! Feels good!”
    Anyway, this framework was helpful for me because it made sense why I would keep coming back to anxiety producing thoughts, even after I had been ‘good’ for months before, and even knowing that it was a dumb thing to do, and even after I really tried to stop doing it.
    It also helped me feel stronger and more resolved about stopping that behavior, because it gave me a framework to understand it.
    When I start going off the deep end with anxiety, I think, “Stop. I am doing this to get a buzz and its not going to do me any good.” And then I really try to let it go and think something positive, or neutral, or anything that doesn’t get my heart going.
    And then I consider it a wake up call from my body that I need to go find a way to get some adrenaline going in a healthy way. So I excercise or treat myself to something fun. Or, ya know. I cut myself (KIDDING! TOTALLY TOTALLY KIDDING).
    Yeah, so total comments hijack. Sorry about that. Hope you feel better soon. Hope this helps in any small way. Being where it sounds you are now sucks donkey dong. And not the fat free kind, either.

  28. baseballmom

    I totally know what you’re saying. I grew up watching my mom do diet after diet, and later doing them with her…from eating grapefruit and steak, to cabbage soup. I always knew that my mom wasn’t happy with her body, and that I looked the same as she did. In the past couple of years, I’ve tried to tell myself that this is the way that some people are and that God must have meant for some people to be fat…that made me feel better for awhile, but now I feel like I almost want to do gastric bypass to solve the problem that I can’t solve myself. It sucks.

  29. Tessie

    Your posts on body image are so compelling and wonderful. It’s no wonder you were chosen to speak on this topic.
    Right on.

  30. Shelley

    Hey Y-
    I think what you wrote is beautiful and the kind of honesty I probably need in my life. I have constantly shorted my own life because of my weight…it’s like I am waiting to live life until I am thin enough to deserve it. I know it’s f’ed up, but it’s still what rumbles around in my head.
    Much love to you for your honesty and well, hope!

  31. Amy the Mom

    You’re braver than I am. I can’t even talk about it on my blog, and I’m struggling every day. I’ve been overweight now for three years…although I’ve never been rail thin, just average, I guess. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a year and a half now, primarily to help with my self loathing. It’s gotten much better, but my weight and my feelings about my appearance are still anxiety triggers. I wish there was a magic pill or an easy answer, but to date, I’ve found neither.
    Thanks for putting into words what I’m afraid to.

  32. Angela

    Hi Y and all of you other brave ladies here. I personally think it’s about time we and society as a whole learned that beautiful bodies do come in a variety of sizes. I am 5’10 and currently a size 10. I used to be a 6, but well whoops.
    My point is that during the formative growing up years, all I heard from peers and really crappy adults (not my parents) is that I was some kind of over grown freak. We as the influences that guide the young people of today need to be aware of how we speak of ourselves and others.
    Good for you Y for realizing how important you and your ideas about body image can affect your daughter. Of course, while I say and believe that, I still secretly hope my daughter doesn’t turn out to be as large or tall as I am.

  33. sue

    I wish that was the only problem I had…being fat…instead I am fat and have cancer…..please start loving yourself for who you are and enjoy life! This is the best thing you can ever do for yourself and your daughter! Sue

  34. Laura

    That comment hit me especially hard because I actually attempted suicide as a result of my depression and feelings of inadequacy, which I know were linked to my weight. It was hard being a size 16 in high school when my 3 best friends were sizes 0, 2 and 4.
    Now that I’m a mom, I reel at the thought of either of my daughters feeling about themselves the way I felt/feel about myself.
    I’m still overweight, although I’m down 35 pounds since my last was born. I still feel uncomfortable in my own skin. But I’m desparately trying to keep those feelings to myself so they won’t rub off on my daughters.
    Thank you for this post which has made me, and many others, think again about how we act and the things we say in front of our children.

  35. randi

    Personally I feel the answer is simply trying to do your best every day. Whether it’s trying your best to exercise, trying your best to diet, trying your best not to cuss…
    As long as you don’t give up, you’re doing what’s right.

  36. JoAnn

    OH. MY. GOD. You put into words what my mind thinks- how do you do that????? I totally 100% feel the same about everything you wrote. The short paragraph that said it all for me was …
    “But does that have to mean that I hate who I am? And that I have to walk around feeling like I need to apologize to the people in my presence for being fat?”
    And I agree- is fat 5 lbs, or 50 lbs??? For me, its weighing 152 when I need to be 125-130. And I am 5’4″. I was there too, lost it on WW and gained it back. I feel like such a failure.
    I have 2 daughters too and I will do everything in my power for them to love the body they are in- I talk, ” eating for health, and exercising because its healthy”. I try really hard not to impose my issues on to them. And its weird. I can’t blame it on my mom because she never had issues with her body. I grew up with bad eating habits though. I remember turning to food at a young age.
    What I am trying to say- is your post is so raw and so real, that if I could articulate my feelings as eloquently as you can- I would have said the same thing!!!! Thank you Y!!!!!!

  37. Angel

    What an amazing post–I’ve been dealing with body issues my whole life; and more recently, how do I raise healthy kids (because it’s not just about the daughters either).
    I’m glad to have found your blog!

  38. Laural

    I know how you feel.
    I’ve felt this way my entire life.
    I grew up with a skinny sister. I got called fat by kids growing up – I was chubby, but I was always put on diets and told I needed to lose weight. And I have always felt like a failure.
    And now I see my beautiful niece and there is some concern about her weight. (she’s 5). I had a long talk with my sister about what I went through when my parents tried to help me by making me lose weight. And, she will never do that.
    I just get what you wrote. So utterly and completely. I don’t have a daughter, but I have a son. And I worry that I will pass my body angst on to him. I’m not sure what to do to prevent it – but I try to be positive.

  39. sassy

    PLEASE read “The Fat Girls Guide to Life” by Wendy Shanker. That is exactly what this book is about. I used to say I hated myself and I was a fat pig. Disgusting…etc. And then I read this book. I still struggle with myself, but it really helped changed my attitude and see that I have WORTH as a HUMAN BEING. My size 16 body has VALUE.
    I don’t like my weight…I am not going to say I am ok with it but this really helped me realize there is more to life than the size of my pants. This summer I ran around the beach like a crazy woman with my 7 year old cousin in my swimsuit. And I didn’t care that I was fat. I cared that I was having fun and enjoying my life. I hope my cousin will remember me boogie boarding with her instead of the fact that I have a gut.
    I hope you will pick this up.

  40. Louise

    I’m just adding my voice to the crowd here.
    You know I’m a teacher. I’ve taught from gr. 1 to high school. And I can’t even begin to count how many little girls out there who are “on a diet” in first grade, eating only carrots or celery, looking in the PLAY AREA MIRROR and saying “Oh my arms are so fat!” because that’s what they see their mothers, aunts, and sisters doing. How many girls at age 13 are thinking they are disgusting because they don’t look like their size-two friends, and will go three days eating only one apple per day, until they pass out and are sent home, and then start over again because their parents think it’s okay for her to be on a diet, she’s got a few pounds to lose. How many 17 year olds I have known who refuse to go to dances, won’t go out with their friends, don’t believe they deserve to have fun, think people won’t like them because they’re a size 12, or 16, or 18, or 24. They don’t take into consideration the fact that they’re intelligent, beautiful, creative, kind, funny… no, none of that counts, because they don’t fit in to the norm.
    I myself am fat, and I was one of those girls. Now when I’m teaching (even though inside, I feel just as ugly as they do, sometimes) I try to get the message across that what you look like isn’t what you are. Yes, exercise and healthy eating are important. I try to stress that: HEALTHY eating. HEALTHY exercise. Some people aren’t meant to be a size six.
    Unfortunately, most of them have been growing up with the message that being chubby means you’re worthless, because that’s the way mom treated herself.
    It just hurts.

  41. sheSaid

    Growing up my mother was the heaviest person in her family, which says nothing because her family is full of very skinny people. And so she always felt fat. I didn’t think of her that way growing up, but I knew how she felt about herself. How she hated her knees, her thighs, how she felt fat. Even as a child, standing next to my cousin, my best friend I felt fat. She got the skinny genes, I got the compact ones. I was not fat. In fact in high school though I weighed more than any one would guess I had thighs that were rock solid. However I felt fat. I worked out so much one year that I saw the dr. for back pain and he told me to quit doing so much I was hurting myself. But I still felt if I could just loose this much more, then I would be pretty.
    Fast forward. Currently I am pregnant and heavier than I have every been, but I am growing a child inside me. My husband loves me, thinks I am perfect, and yet I spent over an hour staring at photos wondering if my face looks fatter. I hear it from my mom about my weight (not while pregnant though). And all I want for my daughter if I ever have one, is for her not to grow up feeling worthless and worring about her weight. I know that it begins at home, and also in our reaction to the world around us. But I think you have hit on the most profound part. Hearing how our mothers feel about themselves has the most impact and how do women who have felt that way about themselves make the change they need if not for themselves then for their daughters?
    YOu are very brave, very honest, very funny, and I hope those are what your daughter learns from you most. thank you

  42. cassie

    Oh man, I feel for you so much it hurts.
    I have never been an “average” weight. I have always been “overweight” or “obese” and I hate that. I hate that I will never be a skinny girl that guys fawn over. I hate that I will never wear a bikini without feeling like a pig. I too hate that my thighs rub together. And I really hate that my mother can still wear a bikini and is over 50 years old. I’m less than half her age and will always wear a 1 piece.
    How do we stop hating ourselves and our bodies? I just don’t know. If you find the answer, please let us know!

  43. Amanda Brown

    Just found you via Metalia and wanted to say thanks for this honest and transparent post. I too have struggled with my weight for much of my life and now have a one year-old daughter. I pray she won’t treat her body the way I did mine, physically starving then stuffing it, emotionally despising its imperfections. I still struggle with all of these issues even though I am now at a “normal” weight. There are so many unanswered questions as to how we can change our attitudes about our bodies and about how our attitudes get picked up on by our children. It’s frightening at times.
    Thanks for being so candid. I will definitely be stopping by here again.

  44. bon

    I have been dealing with this from a different angle lately… trying to change my attitudes about my body. Refusing to lose weight out of self-loathing, working on getting to the place where I can lose weight out of self-respect.
    I have three young daughters, and DAMNED if I’m going to give them what I was given by my mother… the knowledge that I was “fat” long before I ever was fat.

  45. Yak

    I’ve always been chubby and I have two daughters, Sarah (7) and Becky (5). Sarah has always been slim and Becky, well, takes after me body-wise. So guess which one said recently “my legs are fat”? At age 7! What the hell is wrong with our society? That and your post made me think that the questions we should ask ourselves are not “Will this cheeseburger make me fat?” and “How can I lose this hideous weight?” but more like “About what weight can I maintain such that I won’t be racked with cravings and guilt but not so heavy that I’m endangering my own health and can’t climb a flight of stairs?” and maybe “I’m having the damn bean dip but how can I add some fresh fruits and vegetables to the mix?” Maybe the priorities should be, in this order: (1) feeling good about yourself by having fun and enjoying life, (2) good health, and (3) physical shape and appearance — which is WAY behind #1 and #2.
    Jennifer’s comment also made me wonder if a religious upbringing plays a role. Sort of like the adrenaline rush she talks about, you might get a weird feeling of virtuousness by hating your body / yourself and vowing to do better, because it’s all about SIN and STAYING HUMBLE and WE ARE NOT WORTHY and WE MUST STRIVE TO EMULATE OUR LORD WHO FASTED FOR 40 DAYS AND DIED FOR OUR FAT SINS and WWJE? (what would Jesus eat). Of course I grew up totally atheist so I’m just blowing smoke out my ass here.

  46. kim

    Y – for whatever it’s worth, I look at your pictures of Flickr and your site all the time, and I have not ever, EVER, thought “fat”.

  47. Jenny

    I know I’m late to comment, but for what it’s worth, your post brought tears to my eyes. I have an 8-month-old daughter, and I’m so afraid of passing on my self-loathing to her.
    Like you, I thought I was fat for a long time but only recently actually became fat. When I introduce myself to people, I really want to say “Hi, I’m Jenny, and I haven’t always been fat like this. Please don’t consider it part of my identity.”
    Losing the weight post-baby has been agonizingly difficult. My goal is to be normal sized by the time my daughter can remember what I looked like when she was little. I don’t want her to remember me fat. I know it’s incredibly shallow, but it’s true.

  48. Jurgen Nation

    I knew I was supposed to meet you for a reason. Now I’m the one bawling. I’ve spent my ENTIRE life hating my body. I hate it when it’s fat, when it’s thin and every moment in between. I’ve curled up in tears because my jeans fit too tight and I’ve starved myself for years. This post, again, has me in tears. I don’t have children, but if I look at myself inside – in my core of everything I am – and think those questions, I want to punch and kick and scream and cry. Were I a mother to me (I’m a hillbilly by blood, but even I’m not THAT hillbilly, so take the journey with me and imagine) I don’t know what I would do. My goddaughter is only 8 and the word “diet” has been in her vocab since she was 5. I don’t want that for her. I don’t want any of this for any of “our girls.” These feelings are dehumanizing and we do it to ourselves willingly. That’s something I will never understand. Who did this to us? Why are we like this? Why do I have to apologize for the space I take and, similarly, don’t take?
    I loved every word of this, Y. You’re an amazing person and I’m already feeling lucky to have met you this weekend.

  49. mandy

    OMG, I am so with you on this. I have felt fat and hated my body my entire life. Even when I WAS thin, I felt disgusting. My mom is overweight too and she has dieted my whole life. I have resolved not to diet and try to deal with being who I am. So far, unsuccessful at accepting myself.
    My 16 year old daughter must have been totally damaged growing up with my mom and me always talking about how awful we looked, etc. She is anorexic and I don’t even know where to go with that. She is unwilling to accept help and swears her mindset will never change. She has never, ever been overweight and has always been beautiful.

  50. AlwaysCurious

    Hello! I just found your blog (via Crystal) and this post really meant something to me. I don’t think there’s a woman out there who hasn’t hated her body (for a lot of us, that thought is uttered daily). There are a lot of reasons to try to stay at a smaller size, most importantly health, but we should always consider ourselves beautiful. A person is not less worthy of love and lust for the mere fact of the size of their thighs! Last week I was flipping around TV and I saw Mo’Nique’s “FAT Chance” which is a beauty pageant for bigger girls. It was so rare and great to see real women with curves (and maybe even flab!) displayed as beautiful. In fact, I think you just inspired me to write a post of my own!

  51. Liz

    This is a really powerful post, Y. Clearly, you can see you’ve struck a chord with so many women–look at all the comments!
    Count me in that group. This post really resonates with me–and I still use that language to describe myself “big fat cow,” “massive pig,” and whatnot. And I guess it’s easier for me to say it first, before someone else says it, you know. But reading you say that using that language really means that maybe you don’t deserve to be happy?
    We all deserve to be happy. And I’m learning to accept that skinny doesn’t equal happy.
    But healthy and feeling energetic? Those are the things I’m going for. I just need to stop self-medicating with food and start taking care of myself. For myself, and for my family.
    Anyhoo: excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

  52. jennifer

    if you want help figuring it out, ask my mom (that sentence makes me sound like i’m twelve). i had no idea she hated her body while i was growing up, and i’ve never hated mine.
    you can do it.

  53. Green

    Hi, Y. Here by way of Crystal at Boobs, Injuries, & Dr. Pepper (we share that addiction). This really speaks to me right now… I thought I was horrible for wearing a wedding dress one size bigger than I usually wear, :even though: they told me those dresses run large and :most girls: have to go a size higher. I miss when I was three sizes smaller and had a concave stomach, but I constantly have to remind myself that I wasn’t quite healthy back then (always anemic and sunburned too easily). Now I’m slightly overweight, have a stomach that poofs out farther than my boobs, and get tired easily doing physical stuff. But I tan!

  54. Jan Marie Hanes

    Having a daughter changed me.
    I absolutely was NOT going to raise a child to think her happiness and self worth were tied up in her weight. It took a few years to convince myself that I was OK, that it was OK to be large and not to spend every waking moment obsessing over food and exercise and being good enough.
    I have never been so happy in my life. I am 5’10” and 230 pounds, a solid size 20, and have never felt so…free….I still have *fat* days (I’m a woman, it is wired in our DNA) but I don’t let them rule me. I have been the same size for 7 years and after 27 years of fighting my body, I think this is where it is meant to be.
    I want to go back in time and bitch slap my mother for everytime she demoralized and belittled me. I actually had to ban her from visiting after she taught my 8 year old how to throw up after eating McD’s. The really sad thing is, my daughter got my tall genes and my husbands skinny Asian genes and is underweight for her age. I worry now that she is entering puberty she may freakout when she gets curves.
    I also learned to love myself as an example to my son. I want him to see all women as beautiful, no matter what their pants size.
    I’ve been lurking here for a while and I admire your strength and humor and I hope you can find your serenity.

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