One of the most awful events that can happen to a young overweight child, who knows that he/she is overweight, is to be called fat by the person who loves us. My friend told me that when she was growing up her weight often fluctuated. There were times where she was the right weight for her age, and there were times where she was overweight. During the time that she was overweight, her mother often called her “fat” and made her feel insecure by telling her that she didn’t need “this” or “that” or else she was going to get even bigger. Her mom used an aggressive guilt tactic to make her lose weight. And it did work. But it also caused my friend to resort to starving herself, bulimia, and big self-esteem issues. Of course some of these things could occur anyway due to criticisms from peers, but when the person who is supposed to love us and support us makes us feel as though we are an “ugly blimp” it has to have some time of emotional ramification on the child.
Interestingly enough every time she lost the weight, her mom would be happy, take her shopping and treat her well. When the weight came back on, there was negativity and tension in the house. My friend will never know why her mom was so obsessed with her being skinny or why her mom was mean to her when she gained weight, but what she does know is that her weight issues were not as simple as her mom wanted them to be. She had emotional problems, which is why her weight went up and down. She needed her mom to be there for her emotionally. She didn’t need her mom to make her feel bad about it.
To be fair, her mom, probably didn’t realize how traumatic her words were or how much her daughter needed her emotionally. And with parenting, you make mistakes, and you may not “know” how to handle this type of situation. My mom didn’t. My weight, like my friend, was up and down. I was never told I was fat, but she could make some pretty mean comments when she felt as though my weight was getting out of hand such as “Your cheeks are getting fat” or “Your thighs look huge in those pants” or “You can’t wear that skirt, your body is too big”. Yep, her words weren’t any better.
My mom apologized to me when she was older. My friend’s mom did as well. We both realize now that they probably just didn’t know how to handle our weight gain. They both are thin. They both never really had to struggle with weight. They both were concerned about the fat epidemic in America and didn’t want us to be apart of it. And they both really just handled it the best way they knew how–by giving us tough love.
I’m sure that if our parents knew then what they know now then their reaction would have been different. Still I can imagine that the mom who calls her child “fat” does so because she does not know how else to react and change the situation.