In 1959 my mum took me to the Dr’s as she thought I was, “Wasting away”…..”Like two boards clapped together”. I was a 4 year old active child, playing outside all day and doing what 4 years old’s back then could do. I am sure I was the same size as all my compatriots but to a weight obsessed mother, something needed to be done. I can only recall being given daily iron tablets after the doctor visit, not sure whether she started feeding me more.
This was the woman who after the birth of my younger sister would lay on the bathroom floor in hospital exercising to get her figure back. This was the woman who in my young memory was thin. In later years we wondered whether it wasn’t okay for me (or my 2 other sisters) to be thinner than her.
At age 11 I was put on a diet as I was now too fat! I gave up sugar in tea and coffee. I remember dad had bought some diet aids called Aids which you took before a meal to suppress your hunger. My memory of these were they were sweet and probably just a bit of sugar to raise your blood sugar a bit in advance of eating. I also remember dad buying some dry bread type rolls which were like eating cardboard. I have no idea if I lost weight (I must have) and then recall that my mum told me I couldn’t wear a much desired (by me) trouser suit as I was too fat. I am pretty sure that by age 13 I had lost any real idea of what I was. Bearing in mind that I had grown up during the Twiggy years, so what chance was there for me to know what was normal.
Fat, thin, all things in between…..my body was not mine, I had only my mother’s interpretation of what I was. My body image (that internal image we all carry was of a fat girl).
I saw this yesterday which is why today I am blogging. It made me feel so sad that there are millions of little girls growing up being judged by their parents, society and being fed misinformation by the media.
In later years I looked back at photos of me as a young teenager and discovered I was “normal”. My Levi 501’s looked good on me, my midriff baring tops (1970’s fashion) looked fine and my belly looked normal (not like Twiggys! but normal). Age 15 I was probably a size 12 and when I got married aged 19 around a size 14. I never in all this time felt normal. I always felt that I was fat and this was reinforced by my mother and society.
At age 16 we moved away to a new home where I knew no one, too old for the youth club, too young to drive (we were 7 miles from nearest town) and as far as I was concerned life had become pretty shit. I started getting headaches and went to the doctors where I was prescribed Lorazapam!!! FFS. This is the same doctor who was prescribing Librium for my mother! I guess early 70’s was a little too soon to expect a doctor to take a little bit more notice of what was going on for me.
So, what happened. Well like all women I spent the next 3 decades trying different diets, watching what I ate, exercising, dieting, exercising,………….getting thin, getting fatter, getting thin, getting fatter and never ever feeling I got it right. Seeing others who seemed to just be “right”. Seeing others eating the same things I eat, not having to think about (or so it seemed) what they were eating. Seeing others not needing to diet. Wondering what it must be like to just be normal, to not be too thin or too fat and to not be judged by society.
After many decades of success and failure I decided to stop following any sort of diet and to just get on with my life and be me. I am morbidly obese according to the rigged BMI scales and Obese according to the pre rigged BMI scales. BMI scales created by an Actuarial working for a insurance company in America. An Actuarial who knows nothing about dieting and weight but understands statistics about life expectancy. In 1998 millions of Americans became fat overnight as the BMI table was reset.
People (those who judge me by how I look) assume I eat crap. Assume I eat junk. Assume I must be eating differently to them. They will even be thinking as they read this, “I bet you do. I bet you’re a secret eater. I bet you eat sweets and crisps when no one is looking.” Well I don’t. I am sure they must do cos even I judge me and have an internal dialogue when on some occasions I am not eating healthy food. I have my own little panel of judges sitting on my shoulder who give me a hard time.
I recall more recently being on holiday with friends who had a toddler of around 15 months old. I can recall we’d had the meal where we’d been judged by the father (the conversation was around weight and how easily he could lose weight when he put on a few pounds). The most shocking memory for me was when he turned to his wife and asked how soon before their daughter would be giving up her bottle of milk as she was getting a tummy on her!! This from someone with obviously no idea about toddler abdomens and no idea about what is normal for a 15 month old, and no idea about the needs of her body. Just plenty of twisted ideas about body image.
The weight loss industry if it worked would be out of business. If diets worked, there would be no more diets. If losing weight worked, we’d only need to do it once. There is something wrong here and something still unknown about why some people can eat, can eat crap and stay slim and some people eat and eat healthy food and get fat.
I cannot count how many times I have been judged and found guilty by one of those people who have been slim or within “normal” limits their whole lives. I have been judged by people who put on a few pounds on holiday or for some other reason and then lose it when they return to their normal lifestyle. Yet all of those people are not nearly as powerful as my mother and the mother in my head and the mother on my panel of judges. They’ve been there since I was a young girl and I will always be too fat whatever size I am and however much I weight.
I blogged this in June 2013. I think the photo of the little girl standing on the scales reminded me of this. Read this if you are a mother of young girls.
What we need to be passing on is love and acceptance. Giving our daughters unconditional love and letting them know that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be however they look.