Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parenting, weight, self esteem - you know, it's all lighthearted fun here

Can I tell you something honestly.  Me: I am probably about 30 kilos overweight.  And also to be perfectly honest, I am not too stressed about it.  I definitely think being overweight is a choice and if I really was bothered enough, facing serious health risks, or felt bad about myself to do something about it, I would.  I know what I would have to do to lose weight, but I enjoy life, food and wine too much to really be interested in denying myself that.  And also because clearly, self discipline is not my strongest forte.  I accept this and the consequences.  And I am aware of the consequences, I don't need schooling here.


I don't eat a lot of junk food, my favourite foods are quite seriously vegetables, I exercise every day, I have low blood pressure, no cholesterol issues, no diabetes risks... I feel good.  I feel pretty happy with myself for the most part.  I mean pregnant, I feel quite heifer-like, but these are extraordinary circumstance.  I feel like I will be a good role model for my daughter/s. (not saying that baby 2 is a girl yet, we honestly don't know).  We eat well, we are active and I am desperately trying not to share any inherited food issues.  I think there needs to be an emphasis on healthy, versus skinny.  DrMr is naturally skinny, but with a preference for junk food, which I think is probably worse, but we both love the "good life".


See my mother was never really overweight, but she struggled with her weight and being comfortable with herself her whole life - I doubt she is there yet..  She was also terribly ashamed of having two overweight daughters, and I remember being conscious about my weight and understanding that I was on a diet, from about the age of 4, which filled me with a lot of self loathing all through my teen years as I was clearly a disappointment to her and "not the kind of daughter she wanted".  But I also know that a lot of my food attitudes are inherited from her - food as reward, food as comfort, secret eating, denying and rewarding.  My older sister was usually always a lot more overweight than me and my mother would always comment on how unhealthy and unhappy she obviously she was, point things out about her appearance, and I implicitly knew from a young age that overweight people were gross and it was a good thing that I wasn't as bad as that.  It was a competitive environment, and I would feel superior: well I may be a bit fat and ugly, but at least I don't look like that.

Breakfast at our house.  Oh, I kid, I kid.
Having one daughter and possibly another, I am so concious of not creating a competitive environment, passing along inherited food issues and making them feel bad about their appearance - ever.  I am a strong person, between having a mother who was food and fat obsessed and a father who told me I was plain without make-up, I think I have pretty good self esteem and a healthy view point as an adult.  My upbringing also makes me hyper-aware of the affect that a parent's words and approval have on their kids. 

I was talking to DrMr in the car the other day and asking him how do you explain what fat and thin is as a concept, without using body types as an example.  It's rampant.  I don't want Ruby to look at anyone and judge them on how they look, versus what they are like as a person, but unless we start taking an interest in an Amish lifestyle and cloister ourselves away, it is not something I am going to be able to 100% influence.  I would love to be a person who didn't judge anyone, but of course we do - we will drive in the car and laugh at a Harry High-pants old man, or giggle at some particularly unfortunate ensembles.  THAT is the part of myself that makes me feel ugly, a part that I wish I was better and above.  I don't ever want to put another person down to make myself feel better, worse still - that Ruby thinks it's ok to do.

As parents, how do you approach this?  Is it something that is on your radar in the way you parent and the decisions you make?

9 comments:

Erin said...

obviously i am not a parent, but i wanted to say i think it's still a brave act to put this part of yourself out there in blogland for other people to judge, or relate to, both. my sister and i are both overweight, and have both been thinner in our lives, and had the mom who put us both down and struggled with her own weight, also. somehow, my sister's thin kids grew up with the view of seeing everyone for what's inside, and for realizing beauty in all sizes. i'll have to ask how she did it.

JoeyNomad said...

Great post Sally. Something I've been thinking about a lot too. My mum is hyperaware of what she eats and superthin and had issues with anorexia and bulimia all her life. She was very restrictive with what we could and should eat and both me and my sister have, or used to have, really quite disturbed attitudes to food (lots of shame after eating too much).
I think leading by example for your kids is the best way to go. I think if a kid notices that their mum is unhappy with her appearance they will automatically feel bad about their own as well. I know it was like that for me. I think you are setting really healthy and good examples for your kid(s). Good for you I say. At the end of the day skinny and fat are ugly words and they don't do anyone justice.
Funnily enough I'm quite excited about getting bigger during pregnancy and it's been really dissappointing that I haven't been able to each much and thrown up so much. My mum has already made lots of comments about how even pregnancy isn't an excuse to let yourself go and all that kind of stuff, but i've felt really excited about feeling more round and womanly. I think it's gorgeous and lovely.

Vic said...

God, Mothers have a lot to answer for don't they...?! ;) I remember when I was in year 9 we had to weigh ourselves at school; being the tallest kid in my class & "solid", it wasn't something I enjoyed, but I mentioned in an offhand way the number on the scale to my Mum when I got home & she said to me "Really?! I don't weigh that much!"... nice one Mum! Never mind that I was taller than her even then, or what sort of body image issues a teenager already has, as long as you weigh less than she does! She still does it, goes on about weight & has "issues" & I just try to ignore it.

I worry about Punk already, no way is she fat or even chubby but she is a big kid, just as I was, the size of a 4 year old at just 3, and I wonder if she will be able to separate being taller from being "fat" in her own mind - I couldn't & always felt so much bigger than everybody else in both weight & height.

I don't have any answers. I hope that by leading by example, doing what I think is healthy, providing good food & a good environment, she won't end up with the same sorts of issues that I had, and I definitely don't talk about people in terms of their size, so I hope that sort of thing doesn't even compute as far as her thinking about others is concerned... is that naive?

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

Good on you Sal. I wonder about this too. Busy is a big girl- again like Vic said about Punky, she is a size 6 and she just turned 4. She is tall and solid. Just like me.

We try to focus on food as good food and sometimes food. Focus on what is good for teeth and to make you grow strong not about sugar and weight... we talk about activity vs exercise and that it is good to run around and get sweaty at least once a day. She sees me exercise and sees it as normal.

We try to promote health rather than weight but I feel like it is an uphill battle....

I think it is similar to teaching her about girls being able to run as fast as boys and not wear pink and not be princesses all the time etc ... I wish I had something better to add to this discussion but I think it is great to bring it up.

Leonie said...

This one is hard, I honestly think I'm lucky because I have three very active boys, if I had a daughter I think it would be more challenging because of the outside pressures from our society. The boys don't pull any punches though when out and about! They're not judgemental, they just notice differences, like they will make comment about that tall lady or that fat man generally at a volume only kids know how to produce. I explain that everyone is different and our bodies come with instructions on how to grow (genes) and sometimes the instructions make us taller and sometimes they make us rounder but that our size doesn't matter, it's important to eat healthy food and do some exercise regularly to help our bodies stay healthy no matter how tall or round they may be. I have no idea how this will go long term but I'm hoping that our kids don't become judgemental about weight, neither me nor my husband focus on our weight. I make sure I get regular exercise but in no way associate it with weight loss/gain, it's just about being fit and healthy.

Kylie said...

What a fabulous post. I myself am overweight by about 30 kgs and like yourself if I had such an issue I would do something but I am quiet comfortable with myself .... it is everyone else who is not, its like they feel sorry for you carrying the extra kgs.
What I will instill in my son is that i cannot stand people who think they are better than others, we all know that it is their issues by trying to make themselves feel better. Nobody is better than anyone else. People are so quick to judge people by there suburbs, cars, clothes etc why do we not concentrate on the persons personality and friendship?
My two cents worth. :)

radishandruth said...

a big post to put out there. a different world to when our mummy's were mummying us. I think (hope) we're all much more conscious about how to talk about it and being aware of food/weight issues with our sweet bubbas. The Maternal Health Nurses could do with some lessons though! The number of my pals who have been told by their MCH their 2 year olds are obese because of the chart and to start putting them on low fat options - when quite simply the bubbies are just big kids - it's crazycakes! It scares me. Definitely on the radar and super of you to chat about so openly.
ta
Bec

radishandruth said...

a big post to put out there. a different world to when our mummy's were mummying us. I think (hope) we're all much more conscious about how to talk about it and being aware of food/weight issues with our sweet bubbas. The Maternal Health Nurses could do with some lessons though! The number of my pals who have been told by their MCH their 2 year olds are obese because of the chart and to start putting them on low fat options - when quite simply the bubbies are just big kids - it's crazycakes! It scares me. Definitely on the radar and super of you to chat about so openly.
ta
Bec

how to get over a break up said...

Beauty is all about confidence. I know so many people that aren't gifted in the physical aspect, but their confidence makes them so appealing. Look, life is not about looks at all but i can understand you and how your low self esteem bc of your looks is getting to you.