Lately I have been reading a lot of stories about weight loss journeys. Not just the “I lost a lot of weight” stories, but the “when did the ‘incorrect eating’ start” stories.
I guess I have always been intrigued by women who can buy a box of candy and not eat the whole thing, like actually eat one piece a day. I mean the type of women who enjoy their one piece of candy and go about their day not thinking about that box of candy obsessively until ultimately giving in and eating the entire said box of candy.
It is also intriguing to me when this unhealthy relationship with food begins with women. Some never develop one, for others it seems to always have been there, and then many can pin point a certain event or time period when it started (many in the tween to teenage years).
I have not done any scientific studies on when an unhealthy food relationship starts, I am simply going off of stories I have read that women have shared, my own story and, yes, the many I have heard from my real life friends.
So, with all that said, I have really been thinking lately about when I started to think about food in terms of: food will make me fit and feel good, or fat and feel bad. On the real, that’s how I think — food is my fuel, but also, in the back of my mind, I know it will/can also make me fat.
The answer, for me at least, is I do not know exactly. I do know I spent my early childhood in Alabama and I never once remember thinking I was overweight or chunky. But, alas, looking back at some pictures I can now say that was the case at times. I really feel lucky that at the time I did not know this, this was not the focus of my growing up.
I have to give credit my mom with this non-weight obsessed early life I had. I credit her with building up my self-esteem and not ever making me feel less than amazing. She did this in the so non-traditional southern mom way.
She told me I was pretty, and showed me how to curl my hair, and taught me that one coat of mascara was never enough. She bought me pearls and heels and dresses and taught me to always wear a good bra.
But she also taught me how to throw a softball (I had the injury upside my head as proof of that). She taught me to play Spades and spoons and 21 and how to excel in Scattegories. She always had books in the house to read. She showed me how to throw my hip into people while playing basketball. She showed me how to be quick witted but also how saying nothing at all is just as powerful.
I was not only allowed, but encouraged to pursue my interest in science, while also acquiring all the Barbies I possibly could. Even today her compassion and willingness to do for those she loves is something I admire and strive to have. She has taught me the grace of forgiveness while also having the strength to move on from toxic relationships. All these things and more as a girl growing up made me so sure of myself. I did not realize weight or even my weight was supposed to be an issue.
I realize now weight was not an issue in our house because it truly was not one.
I remember one time at a party in middle school the girls asking what size pants everyone wore. I literally had no idea what size mine were. I later asked my mom and her response was: the size that fits you.
That was that. Not a number or a number I should strive to be– just the size that fits you. Not until much later in my teen years did I realize those numbers in your pants were, for some reason, super important and must completely be tied to my self worth.
Whatever crazy issues I may or may not have had, or currently have with food, I can say it did not come from mom. For that I am so grateful. So, thanks mom. Thanks for always having a home where I could escape crazy girl world full of airbrushed models and fad diets and “friends” who call you fat. Thank you for allowing my childhood and teen years to not be about food and diets and pants sizes.
Someone once thought aloud to me that maybe had my mom pointed out when I was chunky, I would have learned how to control my eating, thus having a better relationship with food.
Well, who really knows? I know I had other people in family who at times made it clear to me that I could have been smaller. So I am going to guess: no, it would not have helped me. I am going to guess it would have taken away that care free confidence I had when I was younger. So, again, thanks mom.
Don’t worry mom, we can talk later about how not having that leather jacket in middle school set me up for disaster (I kid, that was not what set me up for disaster). It was the… well, we can leave that for another time.