Monday, October 10, 2011

Mothers and Daughters

The other day while I was laid up on the couch with cramps that had me contemplating a hysterectomy popping a few Tylenol I decided to turn on the television to try and get my mind off the pain.  I turned to this new talk show and the topic happened to be about a daughter confronting her mother about verbally abusing her about her weight.  Let me paint this picture for you:
It was a black family of three; a mother and her two daughters.  The mother was morbidly obese, one of the daughter was obese and the other daughter who was skinny.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is a recipe for disaster.  The daughter who was overweight told of how her mother favored the skinnier sister and often bought her clothes and talked about how pretty she was.  However, when it came to her- the obese one- she was called “fat a$$”  “fat b*tch” etc.  The mom claimed that she was just trying to help her daughter and encourage her to lose weight.  At one point the mom stood up and started yelling “Do you want to be like me?!!?”  “Do you want to be lonely and fat like me!?!”  Next, the skinnier daughter comes out and is proud to be the skinny one and tells her sister “You need to lose some weight.”  Meanwhile, this sister has admitted to sleeping with two of the fat sister’s boyfriends.  While the talk show host begins questioning why she would betray her sister in such a way, guess what the mom does.  Yup, she jumps in and defends her skinny daughter claiming “men will be men” and “I warned the men about her”  “All men are dogs.”  This mom did not demand that her daughter take any responsibility for her actions, because she was skinny, while at the same time she blamed the overweight daughter for being fat and “always wanting something in her mouth.”  This was self-hate at its very ugliest on the part of all three women.  This is what happens when a woman who hates herself ends up raising daughters.
The relationship between a mother and daughter is always complicated.  Add in the issues of weight, body image, and self-esteem this relationship can become destructive.  The more I pull back the layers behind my own weight and body image issues I keep coming back to the fact that I am my mother’s daughter.  I love my mom and I have no doubt that she loves me.  With that said she has struggled with her weight for most of her life and she has admitted to me that she has let it stop her from doing things in her life she has wanted to do.  As a child, when you here the one person you love most in the world call themselves a “fat ass” as a joke it leaves an impression.  And not a good one.  As an adult who has been working through these very issues I can say my weight is not my mother or anyone else’s fault.  It’s not even my own “fault” per se, but it is my problem and recognizing that there are aspects of my relationship with my mom in which my compulsive overeating and body image issues stem from is one way I am working through this problem.
One of the main reasons why I want to get past these issues and learn to love and treat myself and my body with respect is because I want to be a mom someday.  When I do become a mom there is a 50% chance I will have at least one daughter.  I don’t ever want my daughter to hear me call myself a “fat ass” or have her see me look in the mirror and grab a roll of fat in self-disgust.  I want to teach her that food is nourishment for your body and that her self-worth comes from loving others and being loved.  And since I cannot give what I do not have I need to possess these qualities myself.  Because 20 years from now I refuse to be standing on someone’s talk show screaming at my daughter “I don’t want you to be like me.”

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