“It’s not that I wanted to be loved BECAUSE I was fat, I just didn’t want to be un-loved BECAUSE I was fat. I also didn’t want to be loved BECAUSE I was thin. What I really wanted was to love myself and be loved for who I was…”
Those 2 sentences from the Weight Stigma and The Celery Connection article written by Dr. Deah Schwartz have been sitting with me all day since the moment I read them.
In the article, Dr. Schwartz realizes that a lesson she learned in third grade about how we can affect other living things and how people making choices about appearances relates to weight stigma and body size acceptance. It’s an interesting article, click here to check it out.
When I read it I immediately thought of my dad.
I haven’t talked about Dad for some time but I actually think about him quite a bit, especially as my boys get older. The 8-year-old has a friend who doesn’t know his dad so we’ve been talking about family structures, divorce, and so on. He knows my parents divorced when I was 9 and the closer he gets to that age the more I think about it.
If you don’t know, Dad passed away just over 4 years ago. We didn’t have the best relationship — partly his fault, partially mine. I held onto a lot of childhood feelings as I got older and pulled away from him after I had kids and especially after I lost the weight.
You see, much like Dr. Schwartz, my negative body messages started at a young age but it was my dad who was preoccupied by body sizes, not my mom. He expressed his worry about my size right around age 12, which coincidentally coincides with when I started dieting.
Dad had this habit of squeezing my leg above my knee to feel how “solid” I was, and to this day if The Husband touches me there I cringe. I remember one summer he was proud of me for losing weight. I “looked good” he said as he snapped a photo of me at the baseball field. I remember it like it was yesterday and I still have that picture. I starved myself for weeks because I knew he was coming to visit and I was wearing jeans I couldn’t fit in a few months earlier. The next summer he pointed out stretch marks behind my knees as I, of course, gained all the weight I lost (plus some) the year before.
This cycle of gaining and losing went on through high school, college and my 20s, even though I saw Dad less and less.
Years later, Dad came to Ryan’s first birthday party. At this time I was the thinnest I’ve ever been. It was June of 2006.
I was in the kitchen grabbing some food to bring out to the party on the deck and Dad came over to me. He touched my arm and said, “You lost so much weight. Be careful, you don’t want to get too thin.”
I’m pretty sure I noticeably cringed out of his touch and said, “OK, Dad” and just walked away in a state of shock.
That’s when I realized what he said or thought about my weight was insignificant.
“What I really wanted was to love myself and be loved for who I was…”
All those years I thought thin would equal his love.
All those years I thought thin would equal self-love.