My longest dysfunctional relationship has been with food. I was a short, chubby kid who then became a short, chubby tween. At 12, I was shopping for a bat mitzvah dress when clothing made me cry for the first time. You know what the fashion industry doesn't account for when designing dresses for 12-year-old girls? A C-cup. So while all my flat-chested friends wore adorable dresses, I wore a sweater and lace skirt. A sweater -- in August. In Florida.
At 14, I hit bottom in the Loehmanns dressing room. It was my equivalent of waking up in an abandoned alley face-down in a pile of coke. Except it was in a mirrored room surrounded by elderly women trying on cruise wear. Nothing fit right, or at all. It was my first experience with self-loathing. It was the introduction to mirror-avoidance. Most importantly, it was my introduction to what would become a life of dieting and a life of disgust with self.
The thing is, I love food. I am not a foodie. Not at all. I can't read a recipe to the end. I never cook. I have no idea what to do with rosemary, thyme or basil -- It all looks and smell like weed to me (which makes me happy in a different way). So I don't/can't cook, but I love, love, love food. I love eating it. I look forward to meals the way people look forward to vacation. What could've just been an endearing, quirky quality eventually spiraled into a food obsession that alternated with extreme dieting and purging.
I am an amazing binger. I can binge with the best of them. I can disconnect entirely from my surroundings and be "in the food" the same way an alcoholic tosses back bottle after bottle of wine. The problem with a binge is that it always ends the same way: Disgust. Physical and emotional revulsion. Fast-forward the tape to the same ending. Head in a toilet bowl puking up Fruit Loops.
Then, the dysfunction continues with weeks of diet and exercise. It's all so exhausting. And so constant. I wish I could be one of those women who embraced their bodies, love handles and all, with acceptance and love. I can't. I can share posts about doing just that. I can give great advice to my friends to do just that. But I can't do it myself.
I can tell my daughter that nothing is as beautiful as her little body exactly as it is no matter if she is tall, short, big or small. But I am sure she sees through my platitudes. Because she sees a mom who is always on a diet. She sees a mom who looks in the mirror and sighs. She hears her mom tell her friends what she can and cannot eat this week. She hears her mom and her sisters talk about how much weight they still need to lose. She sees her mom fight with a pair of Spanx and lose.
I wish she could see a mom who looks in the mirror and sees a belly that grew three children. Thighs that squat down with kids in public bathrooms. Hips that were meant to birth 12 children. Upper arms that held them through the night.
These are the things we want our daughters to see. It has to start with us, Mamas.
It has to start with us.