Sunday, August 13, 2006

Heavy Issues

With great hesitation, I make this post public. I'm not in the habit of revoking a post, but this one might not be ready yet.

I can’t count the number of people that have asked me if I have an eating disorder. No, I tell them, no I don’t. Sometimes I want to say yes just to make them go away. If you say yes, people don’t ask more questions. I was a fat baby, a fat child, but grew out of it and have remained thin for my height. Today, I’m absolutely within a healthy weight range and have an excellent BMI. I eat all the time, but never very much at once. Sometimes I eat a lot at once... I can do it, but it’s not frequent. People whine that they're jealous of all the bread I eat. Bread, pasta, rice... I love them all! How can I eat so many carbohydrates and not gain weight? Well, that's all I eat. Given a choice, I do eat whole grains over processed ones, especially cereal, and I don't use butter or mayo at all. No fruit, few veggies, a little lean meat. When bread is all you eat, and you don't eat a ton of it, you won't gain weight. Plus, I dance every week, go hiking—I try to maintain an active lifestyle to stay healthy, but I hate gyms and sweating and working out. If it’s not fun, why do it?

Recently, Mom read an article in the newspaper about new statistics showing that girls who have mothers who diet are at a higher risk for developing eating disorders. Mothers that put an emphasis on weight control pass that on. Shocking, I know... but what killed me was my own mother asking me, "do you feel that way about us?" How am I supposed to respond to that? My family more or less put a “fear of fat” in me at a very young age. Whispers floated, “did you see so-and-so? she’s gotten so big.” Or my favorite, “if you eat that, you’re going to get fat.” I think I ate chocolate just to spite people—or maybe because I love it, who cares. Mom consistently warns me about gaining weight. She does it in a very off-hand way too, like she's sending out feelers to see if I'm paying attention, saying to my family out loud in front of me, "both of my girls are developing large butts," or some other comments I can't remember. I’ve taken tons of biology classes, health every year: I’m pretty sure I understand the negative effects of obesity and being overweight. I also understand that she loves me and wants me to be healthy and look attractive. What mother wouldn’t want that for her child? The nagging, the warning, the whispers... it does no one any good.

I remember being little, maybe seven or eight years old, and Mom and I were sitting in the living room watching a 20/20 special about anorexia sufferers. She made a comment about not understanding what would make someone do that, calling them crazy. After growing up constantly worried about being teased not at school, but at home, I completely understand what drives someone to an eating disorder. I’m not afraid of fat people. I don’t blame or hate or whatever someone who has extra weight. I’m not even particularly afraid of becoming fat, should it happen. I am terrified that I’ll be nagged for the rest of my life about something so petty as a few pounds. No, I don’t have an eating disorder. I have a mom-who-can’t-get-over-the-fact-that-I’m-not-her disorder.

An apology might be due here, and I dare not do it as an afterthought. I'm not out to villify my mother. She's wonderful, absolutely amazing... a kid couldn't ask for much more in a perfect mother. If this post sums up the only mistake she made with me, I think she did a pretty damn good job. Mom, you drive me nuts sometimes, but I wouldn't trade you for anything. I love you.

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