I know you love me, and that everything you do comes from the deepest place of love and kindness.
And because of that love, I need you to know something.
I see how you look at me these days. I see how you cringe when I ask for a second helping of pasta. How you sigh when I tell you I need new stockings because mine are too small. I see how you raise your eyebrows when I ask for a pizza on take-away night, or money for soft-serve after choir. I see you silently judging what I eat Granny’s tea party chiffon cake.
I know you’re embarrassed by my size, of my appetite and of how my tummy wobbles when I dance. I know you compare me to my skinny friends and siblings who can eat what they want and never gain an ounce of fat.
I know you feel guilty. I know you think that it’s your fault; this body of mine, this weight issue. And I know that you are desperate to fix it.
I know that you want the best for me.
I know you want me to be confident, to be liked and to love my body. I know you want me to be able to dance in the tap-dancing competition, and not be different from everyone else. I know you want me to happy in any swimming costume.
I know that you struggled with your weight, and want to spare me that pain. You worry about my health, my fitness, my food choices and my future. You always say how you were teased when you were younger and how you felt ugly and self-conscious.
How you were ashamed to wear the clothes you liked, because of what people would think or say. How you tried every single diet, and you went hungry at lunchtime so you would be thin. How you crammed your face with food the second your mom went out because you were too ashamed to eat in front of her. How you felt the weight of your failure every second, hanging over you like a dark shadow.
And how you promised, that your child would never experience such pain.
And because of that, I am asking you to stop.
Stop suggesting I eat salad when I am hungry.
Stop asking if I really need dessert.
Stop asking if I want to take up boxing under the guise of getting strong when we both know it’s because you want me to be thinner.
Stop telling me that it’s important to eat protein as it will make me grow better when you let my skinny sister eat as much white bread as she likes.
Stop hiding the chocolates, and lying when I ask if there is more ice cream, when we all know that you just care about me getting fat.
Stop staring when you need to buy me clothes in a bigger size.
Because, mom I need you now, more than ever.
I need you to love me unconditionally.
I need you to see me – all of me. I need you to see into me, beyond what I look like.
I need you to teach me why diets and restrictions and juice cleanses are harmful.
I need you to ban diets in our home, and model balanced, normal eating where foods are not demonized.
I need you to stop praising thin bodies, and talking about how your cousin has a stunning body after 2 kids, and how Aunty Sarah looks amazing since she started Keto.
I need you to explain to me that even if I lose weight on diet, I will increase my chances of gaining it all back and more. And that I will be at risk of developing an eating disorder, disordering eating, and a lifetime of self-loathing and fear of food.
I need you to accept me as I am, so I can accept myself.
It’s hard enough being bigger than the world thinks I should be – without you believing it too.
I need you to guide me through these scary changes, as my body goes through puberty.
I need you to remind me that I HAVE a body but I am NOT my body.
I need you to confront your own pain and body issues, or at least separate my experience from yours.
I am not you. This is my story. This is my journey. Trying to fix me will only make it worse. My body is not your failure.
I need resilience and a deep sense of self-worth; independent of my body’s shape and size.
I need you to teach me to trust my innate fullness and hunger cues, so I can stop when I am satisfied because you won’t always be there to control how much I eat. And because I get so scared I won’t get enough of what I do like, I often overeat when you aren’t looking.
I need you to model the exercise you enjoy, just because it feels incredible to move and be strong, not because it burns calories of yesterday’s cheesecake.
Because if you don’t teach me these things, everything you fear will come true.
I will go through life knowing that I am not going enough, no matter what size I am. That I am not worthy of love and respect if I don’t look right. That I don’t deserve happiness
I will go through life terrified of food. I will flit from diet to diet while bingeing myself sick on brownies when no one is looking. I will hate myself because I have failed you, and the world.
And even if I do reach my goal weight, my whole life will be defined by the scale. I will live with a constant background in my brain – counting calories, restricting, dieting, comparing, hating and promising to do better.
It will limit my ability to be creative, to love and be loved and to achieve my dreams.
Please mom. I need you to show me so many things.
Show me that I am beloved just as I am.
Show me that my body does not define my worth in this world.
And finally, please show me that who I am in the world has nothing to do with what I look like and everything to do with how the world looks different because I am in it.
Your fatter-than-you-wish-I-was child