I’m still bothered by that mom Dara-Lynn Weiss’ exploitive article for Vogue magazine talking about her putting her daughter on a weight loss diet at 7 years old.
My mom put me on a diet when i was 8 years old. And though I am hesitant to blame her years later because I know her intentions were only good, I’m sure her vigilance in the matter contributed to my overabundance of fat as an adult.
I was an adorable little girl. All red hair, hazel eyes and a big personality to match.
I talked. A lot. Too much! Heck, I used to roar like a lion on my school bus (I wish this weren’t true but I’ve got siblings to corroborate!)
People would stop my mom and me, wherever we’d go to say how darling I was.
Things were amazing for the first 6 or 7 years of my life. I think until I was probably 8 years old. Hard to say for certain and the old pictures are not well dated.
BUT I do recall being hyper aware of my weight as early as age 8.
I’m the youngest of 3 kids.
My brother Brian, the oldest, a boy, was regular sized. And because he is a boy, not much focus was made on his body.
My sister Stacy was a skinny kid. She wasn’t stick arms and legs but pretty darn close.
I was little. And ultimately round.
When I look at pictures of me at 8 years old, I do see a small belly protruding. But I don’t see fat which is a bit maddening considering how oppressive my mother was about my weight.
2nd grade (1977/1978) was when it started (that’s also the year my wrap skirt unraveled in the school lunchroom but that’s a whole other story!)
My mom was concerned I was problematically short and round. And she started taking me to doctors. Yes, doctor(s).
She took me to my pediatrician who told her I would be under 5′ tall (I’m 5’2″ as an adult so take that Dr. Not-so-smartypants!) and then to an endocrinologist for a bone age exam.
And then a day in the hospital for a glucose tolerance test.
My mom was so chic, that even before type 2 diabetes was all the rage, she thought i had it!
Needles back then weren’t quite as small as they are now.
And I still remember that syrupy fake Coca Cola I had to drink. Bleh.
Of course, I didn’t have diabetes, so the next place we went to deal with my roundness was another doctor. This medical doctor was a psychiatrist who handled kids who were fat. I think. She was a behaviorist and all I can remember was that I knew to “doctor” my food journal so she wouldn’t see that I liked candy, cookies, cakes, pizza, ice cream and anything else that was a taboo food.
I was eating (according to my food diary) carrots, celery, chicken and fruit.
Sadly my lying about my food intake didn’t fool the doctor or anyone.
Closet eating became a way of life.
As did going to weight loss spas.
There were not many other 10 year olds at the famous Golden Door spa in California- which, as an adult, is where i’d love to be, but as a 10 year old…not so much!
While my mom and I ate sprouts for days, rest of my family was somewhere fun- like disney. Ok not disney but somewhere as appealing as Disney.
Food was the main enemy until puberty.
When puberty started, I learned my body was the enemy too.
When puberty started, I learned that my body was misshapen.
My ass was too big, my thighs too. My breasts were too small for my big ass.
To most, I would’ve been considered “pear shape” but to quote my mom who’s since passed away, I was “ill formed.”
I was offered fake boobs when I was 15 (I declined. Thankfully my own breasts did manage to show up years later!)
I was offered every possible weight loss option in the 1980s. (The bulk of which I’ll mention in my next not yet written book!)
Eat fruits, vegetables and cake was one thing my mother recommended.
Eat ice cream instead of dinner was another.
Exercise as much as possible (duh).
And if you are overweight no one will love you.
When i was 20 I missed a week of college so I could go (happily) to the Ashram in Calabasas California (eat almost nothing, hike all day, share a bathroom and bedroom with strangers- I opted out of sharing a bedroom by opting in to sleeping in a closet. literally.)
It was always this way: weight and beauty first, everything else second.
I was completely smitten and as equally relieved when I met my husband and was told that his ex-girlfriend had a large ass. He (in the words of my sister) was not a “body man” which meant that he could, in fact, really like me.
This is what happens when your weight is your mom’s greatest focus. It becomes YOUR greatest focus. It looms larger than the big ass that caused the worry in the first place. And in my case, it laid the groundwork for my actually being overweight.
Sadness, fear of death, fear of never feeling “hot” and, I suppose, subconsciously knowing my mother wouldn’t get the satisfaction of my weight loss, made me dig deep enough to figure out a way to be not fat. I just wish I had found the Omharmonics binaural beats meditation review sooner, it gives me so much hope.
Perversely, I’m sad every day that my mother doesn’t get to see me fitting into tight pants and looking like a “norm” in them (her word for a normal looking person.)
She would’ve loved it.
She did love me.
I was her sunshine… her ever too fat sunshine.