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In my mother’s eyes.

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… 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.

Who’s fat?

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.

Why BMI Isn’t The Best Measure for Weight (or Health)

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.

Passing on body hatred.

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.



Teaching our daughters to hate themselves.

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Passing on body hatred

This is so sad, and so much of it is worth repeating, I have cut and paste the whole article for you, you have no need to even open the link.

If you are a young mother with daughters who love you just as you are, please read this and think about the messages you are giving them about body image.

Dear Mum,

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:
1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.
Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.
And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.
Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.

Love, Kasey xx

This is an excerpt from Dear Mum: a collection of letters from Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and authors revealing what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. All royalties go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. (Published by Random House and available now.)

– Daily Life

Weight loss industry

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I blogged yesterday about being fat and weight loss. It intrigues me that rarely do I get “Likes” on my blogs, but today there are 2 who are from people with money to make in the “weight loss” industry. It’s such a massive money making industry, no wonder we find losing weight hard when we invest in all those low fat, get thin quick regimes. Of course they don’t want you to actually lose weight, otherwise they’ll not earn money! So, they continue to market themselves and we continue to get taken in. Most of the scientific research into weight loss is funded by the same industry, so most of the project outcomes will need to maintain the premise of said industry. So outcomes get skewed and we believe what we read.
The only way I am sure (I have yet to prove it) is to eat less food. No need to buy special products, just eat smaller portions.

They’ll probably like this one too!

Hello Fatty (sorry Dawn, but it fits for me too).

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Okay. So, I hate diets, have had weight problems since aged 9 and have tried several “diets” over the years with little success apart from hunger, continued thoughts about food, what I can eat, what I can’t eat, when will I next eat etc.

I recall back in the 70’s, yes over 40 years ago, attending a slimming class (possibly like Slimming World or something). I think I was the only person who arrived to be weighed and over the month rarely lost anything, actually some weeks I would have gained a pound. I don’t remember whether I ever joined a class again, as I think I felt rebellious so would be throwing my money away if I wasn’t going to stick to the plan. I vaguely think I might have joined Weightwatchers for a while too… vague is the memory, it would only have been for a month.

In 1992 the company I worked for went into liquidation and I found myself without a job, without a company car, and my choice was either the the family Skoda Estelle skoda
as you can imagine, that wasn’t an option I was interested in, so I chose to walk if I needed to go anywhere.
I applied to do nurse training, was accepted for the following September, so had to find myself something to fill the gap. After a couple of temping placements, I became a registered childminder, and for about 6 months looked after an 18 month old girl. Most days to pass the time and keep her occupied, we’d walk the just over 2 miles into town, around town and back. At the same time I was following the Rosemary Conley Fat Free diet (I think that was what it was called). Over the period between me losing my job with a car, to starting at college 11 months later, I had reduced from a size 16, to a 12 I think. I was 38 (20 years younger than I am now).

So, in 1993 I started my training, with lectures not always fitting into strict meal times, and vending machines with unhealthy snacks. Student Union with higher fat food and me sitting again and not being as active. Weight went back on over a year or two. At that time I also bought a bike, I’d separated from my first husband, and couldn’t afford to live on my student bursary and run a car. I topped up my bursary by working odd bank shifts at the local hospital, so would ride several miles (not many) to work and back. When I qualified I continued to ride back and forth to the local mental health hospital, and later in the other direction to the day hospital. So, throughout the early 90’s, I was probably maintaining a size of around 14/16.

As life became easier, I was given an old Audi 80 left-hand drive (yes given!) and I became less active. My job was a sitting job, working one to one, or facilitating groups in the local mental health day centre. So, car, sedentary, more affluent seems to have equal more food and more weight. In 2000 I managed to persuade my now husband that we should be a couple, and in 2001 we moved to Devon. We both enjoyed food, we both worked in sedentary jobs and were both overweight. I of course (I know not everybody does but it’s how I operate) showed some of my love by feeding him. We were both working in stressful jobs, and I found by Tuesday evening I was too shattered to consider cooking, so we would invariably eat take away. Sometimes Chinese (and I now know far too much) and sometimes Fish and Chips.
By the time we got married in 2006 I can see from the big wedding photo a friend framed for us, that we are both very big. Very happy and big.

In 2006 we moved to France, became a little more active again as there was much to do, and I think were eating more healthily as access to takeaway food was limited to pizza (I don’t like pizza). My cooking over the years (now I am not working and have time) is all mostly from scratch, so rarely do we have anything processed. Despite that, we managed to gain back the weight I think we may have lost at the beginning. I have become less active due to firstly a neck problem stopping me from cycling, and in the last 10 months I have something wrong with my feet. Orthopaedic insoles have helped at times, but there is still a lot of pain and I am awaiting an Xray later this month. So, no walking for me apart from daily stuff around the house and garden when dealing with chickens and sheep.

I have a very good idea about why I continue to be morbidly obese despite knowing most of what I need to know about food, nutrition and weight loss. What shocked me the other day when I once again decided that we really have to do something about our weight was when I looked up online what a portion of pasta was (and since then rice etc). It really is very small. 1 ounce of raw wholewheat pasta, and I think a little more of brown rice is the recommended portion per person. We’ve each been eating for 4 if that’s the case!! Do you measure your pasta and rice?

On a visit to the doctor last week, he mentioned my weight for first time and I could see he wasn’t at all convince there was any point in mentioning it, and that he wasn’t really invested in my problem with my feet. I guess he sees no point if I do nothing myself and continue to be this big. It felt like those consultations one has when the doctor is probably thinking what does this fat old cow know.

Anyway, I’d already been cutting back the portions of food we were eating before this appointment and didn’t bother to say, cos I don’t think people believe you when you say you’ve tried this and that. I find it really hard when commentators who really haven’t any idea how it is to be morbidly obese come up with ideas that have worked for them. I hate it when people judge my intelligence based on my weight and yet that is the world we live in.

So, I can now make sure we only eat those measurements of pasta/rice. We’d not been eating pasta/rice/bread/potatoes much anyway for the last 15 months, in an effort to lose weight and deal with insulin resistance, but it hasn’t worked. In fact I’d but on 3 kilos in the last 5 months and have been feeling bloody depressed with it. It’s odd, I was only a couple of kilos more than my constant but felt so horrible and fat, when actually (I know I am not horrible) I am fat and have been fat for a long time.

The doctors was nearly a week ago, and when we got home the following morning I weighed myself. Note I am not putting my weight on here because it embarrasses me to weigh so much (being a short arse too). However, this morning I find I have already lost 2 kilos and I am very happy. I then thought, how can I know and explain to Mark how much this is. I found a large, thick green glass storage jar in the cupboard and it weighs a fraction over 2 kilos. It’s heavy! It’s good to be able to know that is what I am not carrying around with me. I have several large, thick green glass storage jars to go, but feel that with measuring out portions and with a bit of luck getting my feet sorted and being more active, I might just manage to lose a few.

So, we’re not on a diet, as diets are not forever (in my thinking) but we’re reeducating ourselves to eat less.
I’m off now to think about other things besides food.