Our Mothers, Ourselves: Stopping the Cycle of Body Loathing

stopping the cycle of body loathingAs a little girl my mom never talked about her body but she was constantly at war with it. She was on and off diets for as long as I can remember, and I recall her bouts of dieting would be followed by bouts of bingeing on the foods she was desperately trying to avoid.

Food was the way she coped with stress and she was under a lot of stress. As a result, my mom’s weight fluctuated greatly – add to that the stress of raising four children, running a household, and working full time – it’s no wonder food became both her savior and her enemy.

My mom didn’t want her daughters to ‘get fat’ and struggle the way she did so she would sometimes comment if she felt we were gaining weight. But she mainly kept her thoughts to herself – it was in her actions that I later found myself modeling her behavior.

I started battling my own body wars around age 12, but fortunately in my 20’s I was able to stop the cycle of body loathing and heal that ‘mother wound’ by becoming more aware of my inner dialogue and consciously shifting my thoughts to a more accepting tone.

Related Article: When Body Positivity Feels Impossible

And for my mom – at the age of 77 my mom has finally seemed to accept herself as she is, so no more dieting. In retirement she focuses on more important things, such as which country mountain range she wants to hike next.

Food is no longer the enemy, but instead one of the many areas of enjoyment in her life.

Relationships With Our Mothers & Our Bodies

At Green Mountain I facilitate a weekly body image discussion group and every week someone mentions their relationship with their mother. I hear about critical moms, unconditionally loving moms, and everything in between, but the pattern I hear about most is the one that echoes my own personal story.

Having a mom who struggled with her own issues with feeling ‘not good enough’ around body weight and then subconsciously modeling her behavior.

Body loathing is contagious – but the good news is that so is body positivity. Check out this video – it’s an eye-opening representation of how we can influence our youth by how we talk about ourselves.

My hope is that as women we can begin to turn the tide and rise above the insanity of the body wars – and celebrate rather than negate our strengths that make us the ‘who’ of who we are no matter one’s size, weight or shape. Because, quite frankly, life’s too short to focus on anything that serves to discredit what’s truly important.


2 responses to “Our Mothers, Ourselves: Stopping the Cycle of Body Loathing”

  1. Natalie says:

    This post is so timely for me! My rather vain 68yo very attractive, very slim mother who has been a lifelong dieter has just told me she is booked in for liposuction because she doesn’t like her stomach. I can’t tell you how much this is triggering me!! Her war on her body and in effect mine (I’m twice her size) is really upsetting.

  2. Erin Risius says:

    Hi Natalie,

    I can imagine that would be upsetting…and at 68 she’s been fighting that war for sometime. I hope you have other voices around you (and especially your own) that you can turn to for support when triggered. I recommend two great online resources that can help illuminate a voice of reason around these issues: Health at Every Size (www.haescommunity.org) and Size Diversity and Health (www.sizediversityandhealth.org). Glad you reached out to share your experience…

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