Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Hypocrite Within

For as long as I can remember, self-hatred has been a part of my life.

I can remember, as a child, wanting a white tank top. My mother used that white tank top as a bribe -- if I lost ten pounds, I could have the tank top. When I was a teenager, I wanted to go to a formal dance, and my mother bought me a dress -- two sizes too small. If I could lose enough to wear the dress, I could go. I didn't. The next year, she bought me a dress in my size, but it would only look good on me if I lost weight, so for the two months before the dance, she harassed me about every bite I put in my mouth. I went to the dance, and wore the dress, but spent a good portion of the evening wondering if I really was as ugly as my mother seemed to think I was. (You might wonder why I was not picking out my own dresses, but that its another dysfunction for another time.)

I could tell hundreds more stories in the “lose weight, lose weight, lose weight” genre; all the diets, the crazy exercise regimes, the supplements and drugs and roller-coaster addiction of the diet cycle; but I don’t need to – they are the same stories told by nearly every fat woman who lives in American culture. I could also tell stories about all the ways I have been convinced my life would be better if only I were thin. I was sure life would be easier, I would have lots of friends, men would love me, and, most of all, I could finally, FINALLY stop hating myself.

The truth is, even if I had been thin, I probably would have continued to hate myself. It is remarkable how we can always find something to hate about ourselves.

I don’t hate myself anymore. Thanks to lots of people and events, I have been able to put that behind me. But it is remarkable that in spite of learning to accept (dare I say, even like) my body, I still fight contrary thoughts and voices every day. I put on clothes and think how much better they would look if I could just lose 5/10/100 pounds. I have a lonely moment and think that I would have a boyfriend or husband if only I were thin. I am even tempted by the commercials for Alli, uncontrollable oily diarrhea notwithstanding. It is hard to shake the eternal “if only” thoughts that have been my constant companions for so long, particularly when the people around me are still in the grip of fat fear.

A few weeks ago I donated both of those dresses to the costume closet in my drama department, and had a good laugh at them with some of my kids. Hopefully someday I will be able to purge those thoughts as well.


goodwithcheese said...

I *needed* to read this today. I'm fighting with my own negative thoughts right nwo and so this really resonated with me. Thank you!

littlem said...


I came over from Dr. Stacey's blog, "Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder" -- which I see you already have on your blogroll. Do rock on.

It's not even a prerequisite to be "fat" to have those thoughts; as I posted on her blog, "Thin is a Moving Target." Especially in our American society, it seems.

I believe I lost the Bergdorf Goodman designer number my father gave me. It was an accident, of course. But why didn't I search until I bled to find it before I moved? (After all, clothes are a woman's life! *snark*)

Oh, because it was two sizes two small and I couldn't breathe in it.

I could have left the house in it, but I'm sure I would have been arrested, and I like being able to run around town under my own steam, thanks.

"I think too much."

Welcome to my world. Don't you just want to bite people's faces off when they say that?

Lots of protein, less carbs.


Thanks for making me - and others, I'm sure - feel welcome.

Gordita said...

Here, here.

I started hearing that I needed to lose ten pounds when I was 5 years old (from my mother). That number only grew as I grew older.

My husband has actually been the best thing in the world for my self-image. When I'm having a fat day and gazing mournfully into the mirror, he says things like, "Hey, you . . . don't you hate on my wife!" "I love my wife, you better love her, too!" And if I SAY anything negative about my body, then it's on! He's like, "Wife, if any man said the things about you that you say about yourself, I'd have to clean his clock! Don't talk about my wife that way!"

Sometimes it actually begins to sink in. :)

Holli said...

Hey Erin, I wanted to stop by and say hello. What an emotionally driven post. Very honest of you. I'm really sorry that you grew up hearing things like that from your own Mom. Not that you want or need my "sorrow", but it's unfortunate that a mom could be so insensitive, even if she means well.

I had a great time at your house and I loved walking around your gardens, the pictures of your roses are amazing!

Also, love your new lay out!! How did you do it? That's not rhetorical, please tell me how :)

Erin said...

Holli, I played with the template options in blogger until I found something I liked. It was reasonably simple, but it takes a bit of time to figure out.

Kelly said...

Oh the mother wound. It comes in so many forms, mine was make up and eyelash curlers at age 5. I am glad you have come full circle, even to the point where you can donate those dresses that haunt your memories. I love hearing about your journey to healing and discovering who you are apart from all the crazy childhood stuff and present demons.

Lady T said...

honey your mom screwed you up. i know its hard to let go of some of those issues....but by this post, it seems that you are moving in the right direction. but its hard...i know. its a constant thing....and i wish i could drown out the own voices in my head...i often hear my father talk about me being a "big, clumsy girl" the words seem innocent enough....but they have haunted me over the years......

Jennifer said...

Have you seen this YouTube video? Its of a larger woman talking about how shes come to terms with her size....I thought she was amazing!