One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

INSIGHTS

The Celery Connection Brings Back Some Old Feelings

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Dr.-Deah-Celery

“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.



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Discussion

There are 9 comments so far.

    Shandym (webgals)

    September 23, 2013

    I figured out a few years ago that my grandma had done the same to me. I still struggle and hear her voice. One particular time, my best friend and I were at her house for a snack. I vividly remember her telling my friend to take more and to me “not you though, you’ve had enough.” Even though we had had the same snack and amount. She was always critical of me for that. I hope I can break from that feeling of inferiority some day.

    Karen Jaffe

    September 24, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your feelings. I idolized my mom who struggled with a weight problem her entire life and didn’t want me to go through the same. I remember hearing, “You’d look great if you just lost 10 pounds,” and then when I did, she would push food on me telling me I had gotten too thin. I also remember my ex-husband telling me in the early years of our marriage, “Don’t ever get fat,” and after I gained 30 pounds with the birth of our son, I was terrified he’d leave me. I lost the weight with Weight Watchers and several years later he left me for someone else anyway. Turns out it wasn’t the weight after all. In my 50’s I still struggle with self-acceptance and body acceptance although it is getting easier as age has a way of allowing you to take it easy on yourself a little bit. Having lost the weight, my goal is to become completely comfortable in my skin no matter how long it takes.

    Mehgann

    September 24, 2013

    In my family, it was always “You look great…have you lost weight?”, even when you’d noticeably GAINED weight. I STILL hate it when I lose a little bit and people point it out, because it feels disingenuous and unnecessary. I will never comment on someone’s weight, good or bad.

    LG

    September 24, 2013

    Thanks for this honest post. I have a dad who made similar comments, both about my weight and my skin. One thing that’s great is that the “buck stops here” – I’m not passing that crap on to my kids. (The Bible talks about “generational curses”, and I’m quite sure that these types of things fall into that category. I had an ED, my mom is obese, my aunt is ever on a diet, my grandpa struggled with his weight, my great grandma had her legs cut off due to diabetes…hmmm. Time to raise a new generation of “normal” eaters!)

    Mindy Lee

    September 24, 2013

    Wonderful post, Roni, heartbreaking and honest. Amazing how much of an impact our parents have on us. The wonderful thing is that you are stopping the cycle with your boys :) I hope to do the same with my kids. I have a son and a daughter and I know it will be so much tougher to help her have a healthy body image. I just have to give it my best shot!

    Tina

    September 24, 2013

    A great post, Roni. Made me cry. I’ve been criticized about my weight by my parents and grandparents since I was a teen… in awful, embarrassing ways. I was told over and over again that I “could be a model if I lost all that fat”. Their words still affect me negatively today. I think the way you encourage your sons to be healthy and active in such safe and happy environment is so beautiful.

    KCLAnderson (Karen)

    September 24, 2013

    For me, it was my Mom. And on good days, I am at able to see that she just didn’t know any better. On the not-so-good days, my thoughts take me to feelings of hurt and/or anger.

    It’s funny…on the very last day of Fitbloggin’ in Portland, there were several of us sitting around a table…you were flitting in and out.

    My mother and I had started up communicating again (via email) after more than two years of nothing. That morning, I got an email from her in which she RAILED against me for, among other things, having a blog and for writing about personal stuff. She called me names and told me I should be ashamed.

    I couldn’t help but cry. Emmy and Kristine (Beeson) were sweet to me. Suffice it to say, my mother and I are no longer communicating.

    The good news is that every day I get to choose how I am going to treat and love myself…and I get to choose friends and loved ones who support me in that.

    Sammy @ Peace Love & Ice Cream

    September 24, 2013

    That is a VERY powerful quote. And I can totally see how and why it has affected you the way it has. Sometimes people (or parents/adults/teachers/anyone really) don’t realize the severity of their comments or actions….and sometimes it can change the person completely, forever! Pretty powerful! You’re awesome :)
    -Sammy @ peaceandloveandicecream.blogspot.com

    Dr. Deah Schwartz

    February 12, 2015

    I just came across this post and had to say how much I related to your story about your dad! I know it’s been a year since you posted this, but it’s never too late to say, “Brava!!!”
    Warmly,
    Dr. Deah