scale stories

My daughter weighed herself at 8:30 p.m. I tried to stop her; everyone knows it’s bad to weigh at night, and this night was even worse than most. She’d eaten dinner late because of soccer practice and also wolfed down half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—some ridiculous fudgy flavor of the usual exceeding deliciousness.

Though she had spent three hours of the day swimming and another hour and a half running around the field and kicking a ball, she’d also consumed a post-breakfast black-bottom muffin, grilled cheese for lunch, and an afternoon snack of popcorn and several mini-cupcakes.

She left the room sulking and got in the shower, where she spent a long time. I pulled back the curtain, and she was crying. “You have to help me,” she said, pathetic as I am when I beg my husband to keep Aunt Margaret’s chocolate cake in the truck or hide it well beneath all the camping gear in the basement.

“You are not fat!” I tried to make her feel better by comparing my stomach to hers.

“At least your boobs stick out further than your stomach!” she said.

I saw her in her swimsuit the day before, and she looked positively gorgeous. “You have a great body!” I told her. “Your stomach looked nice and tight at the pool yesterday.”

“I was sucking it in!” she said.

“The whole time?”

“The whole time!” She cried again and tried to hug me, the shower water soaking my clothes. I made a snuggle date with her after her shower.

Like mother like daughter. I sucked my stomach in from the time I was eleven until the time I was 35 and pregnant. You’d think those muscles would get strong in 24 years of sucking, but it only gives you a stomachache. Eventually, I got too fat to suck it in anymore.

In ninth grade, Miss Brown lined up all the girls. We wore snap-down, short, piss-yellow gym dresses with bulbous matching bloomers, which had the same skinny elastic at the waist and legs. The only thing that harmed your self-esteem more than catching a glimpse of yourself in your gym uniform was being weighed by Miss Brown.

I don’t remember whether she shouted out our numbers to a girl with a pad or whether she let us suffer a private humiliation, but I cried when I heard my number. 132. I was more than ten pounds heavier than my mother when she got married, and I wasn’t even in high school yet. One of the coolest girls in the whole school, Dawn, came over to me and consoled me by telling me that she weighed 138 pounds, and that it was OK because we looked good. (She and I got our periods together in sixth grade; I think we were the only ones that year.) Dawn was an athlete. She was about three inches taller and had long, slender legs.

We hardly ever talked before or after that moment, but I never forgot her. It was easily the kindest thing anyone had ever said to me in all of my years of grade school.

What I wouldn’t give to weigh 130 pounds now! I’ve probably tried to get there 130 times in my life. I’ve made it within a few pounds several times, even as recently as my 40th birthday. I looked and felt great—my back didn’t hurt, I could run faster, I didn’t get heartburn or migraines. But whatever skinny friend I had at the time always told me I looked sick. Because the job of the skinny friend is to be the skinny friend. If you take that away, you take away everything.

Mothers don’t want their children to grow up with our neuroses, especially about our bodies. We’re a country drowning in high-fructose corn syrup and diabetes, and we’re collectively too stupid to see the connection. Our kids see the donut we had to have (hell, they share in that need), and then they see us fret over having had it. Just a couple of days ago, I asked my daughter whether I looked too heavy in something I was wearing. She rolled her eyes. You’re not fat, she said. Then she pinched her own half-inch.

I’m told that most girls go through this phase at some point or another, especially when a crush is involved—even if, I’m told, they come from thin mothers. Maybe that’s true. So what do thin mothers tell their girls to do about pudge? I know what I do. I whip out all those Weight Watchers tools.

“I’m hungry all the time,” my daughter told me the next morning, as I showed her, in a small glass, the amount of orange juice equal to a serving. I gave her the rundown. Sometimes you think you’re hungry when you’re really thirsty; drink water. Eat a piece of fruit. Wait twenty minutes after a meal so that you can feel full. Find an activity that keeps your hands occupied. “And stop drinking tall glasses of that fancy orange-tangerine-cranberry juice you and your skinny dad concocted.”

It’s been about a week since that episode in the bathroom. She’s gone easier on the juice, and she’s feeling a little better about her tummy. I didn’t stop her from stepping on the scale this morning, and she saw a 3.5 pound difference.

When she left, I took a turn on the evil hate machine, and I’m down a few myself.

My mom and I used to joke about our inability to lose weight, saying we wish we could have anorexia for just a couple of weeks. When someone has that virus and spends ten days vomiting, losing ten pounds in the process, we stand a little closer to her. (But we know, of course, that we’d find a way to squeeze the calories in through retching episodes.) I even took diet pills for awhile, but I got used to them instantly and started eating more calories. I even thought I was onto something when I invented “Tapeworm in a Jar.”

Or I could give up my 6:00 Red Hook ESB; the one at 4:00 should suffice.

We all have a scale story—one that we will remember forever, like the day in Miss Brown’s ninth grade gym class. I think of it every time I see a doctor’s scale or a locker room in a spa or health club. I am thankful that my story had a Dawn in it. Without her, it would have been just another painful memory of my ever-expanding waist.

I hope everybody’s kid either has a Dawn or is a Dawn. And I hope none of our daughters grows up to be or have the skinny friend.

* * *

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17 Comments

  1. jennifer August 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm #

    this is such a fabulous essay. thanks for writing it, and including photos that fit (so to speak) perfectly.

    i feel so bad for serena, that our society has conditioned us to judge ourselves based on scale numbers. i often wish we could go back to ancient times, when wide hips and big boobs meant we were to be worshipped and idealized.

    when i was a kid, about serena's age, my mother sent me off to sleepaway camp. this wasn't a fat camp — just normal jewish summer camp. but she told the counselors to put me on a diet. so while the other kids laughed and ate chocolate pudding and grilled cheese, i ate jello and blushed in burning shame, painfully aware of my physical form.

    meanwhile my role model was back home, eating entire pound-bags of m&ms and boxes of entenmann's crumb cake.

    now i go through life as a woman of size, at times both proud of my curves, and secretly burning in shame as i pass mirror after mirror.

    i haven't used my scale in years.

  2. Diana Pappas August 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    This is a great post, Leslie…

    How many times did I break down in tears growing up in every fitting room in every clothes store I went to?

    Too many times…

    I’m trying to think when I learned to suck it in, when that started, and I”m sad to say I think it was around the same age that Serena is… I had a great body, I was active, I ate well, and yet something in my brain saw something different in the mirror. Such a shame… I think we all have body dismorphia to an extent…

    I haven’t weighed myself for years… I feel a lot better without the scale. I probably weigh less too, but I don’t really want to know. I think I’m denser than most people.

  3. Fiona (aka Fotofig Redux) August 26, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    This is a wonderful piece, Leslie. It breaks my heart to hear that your stunningly beautiful little Serena is not immune from the insanity that our culture suffers from in the area of women and our bodies.

    My daughter started packing on the weight after my split from her father, and because I was so stressed out at the time, I didn’t have the personal strength to help her through it. I just kept telling her she wasn’t fat, and focusing on all her genuine wonderful qualities. But, of course, I wasn’t the primary influence — she was teased something fierce at school by means girls, and even bullied really badly for a while.

    In the meantime, I was struggling with my own serious weight gain, and not modeling healthy food behaviour at all. I remember a counselor once telling me that once I “got it” regarding an emotional problem — any emotional problem — my daughter would, too, because I would thoroughly demonstrate the healthy approach to the situation in a way that she would instinctively understand. I seem to have done a pretty good job of that in lots of other areas, but the weight thing continues to be an albatross around my neck, and sadly, around hers.

    She’s pulling in A+ marks in difficult courses at university, she has lots of great friends including a wonderful boyfriend who adores her, and she is demonstrably talented in a number of areas, but if that scale says the wrong thing, in her own eyes she is a hopeless loser with not a single good quality.

    It breaks my heart for my daughter, and your story about Serena brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think we mothers are probably part of the answer. Sadly, though, we’re only part of a much larger equation, and as long as we continue to struggle with our own image problems, and as long as our larger society is so screwed up about image issues for women, I don’t think our daughters will escape that tyranny.

    Really thoughtful pieces like yours, though, and the discussion and debate that they engender, have to help.

  4. Andrea August 26, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Hey Leslie Loved your story.

    I remember Dawn. Jessica has always been a chubby baby, kid, and now teenager. She doesn’t eat or exercise any less then her “skinny” friends. Unfortunately she has my chubby genes. She is chubbier as a teen then I ever was but I always tell her to look at her friends mothers, most of them have weight problems as adults so they might not always be skinny. She is starting to slim down though. I guess 2 1/2 hours of Field Hockey a day will do that for anyone.
    They say that our mothers made us the way we are concerning weight and we just pass it on to our daughters. The cycle continues with each generation

    Andrea

  5. Don August 26, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    The song says, “Fathers be good to your daughters”. And now for a males point of view.

    I have a daughter the same age. This all consuming awareness of their bodies is natures way of saying, whoa, get yourself ready you are becoming a woman. It can’t be stopped or hurried.

    If it’s not her perception of tummy fat, then it is the hair, or the clothes, or the new boobs. She can’t confide in me about such things because I am JUST a man what do I know, and well, if I were in her shoes I wouldn’t either. The emotional ups and downs that were not there a year ago are rearing their sharp claws. I feel for her. This is a very hard time in her life, a pivotal time. I can only be there for her when she needs me, when she wants me. At times she is the little girl (who is not so little any more) that snuggles up in my lap and watches Sponge Bob with me. Other times screaming fits directed at me dominates her time inconsolably. I must bite my tongue and say softly I love you as she yells, I HATE YOU! Five minutes later she wants me to set up volleyball spikes for her.

    I could consult doctors or books but it just won’t do any good. I want to help, It is my nature as father to help, to fix things. This only time fixes and with help from her mother, (thank God for her). I most be there for her and go away when nature demands it. Like when she is in the bathroom taking 45 minutes to get ready for school. (3/4 of the time is spent in front of the mirror putting the hair over the ear or tucked behind the ear).

    This womanly thing, that I have no clue about, is a pain in the ass for her and for those close to her. It is not her fault but is necessary and something that must he handle with respect. She means the world to me and my love for her will never end. Since I work out of the home it is a little unnerving that one day real soon a teacher or nurse will call me up and say, “Sir, your daughter is having her first period could you come to school with clothes?” Part of me will say, yay she’s growing up, the other part will say, Lord please don’t let me embarrass her.

    You and Marty have good reason to be proud of Serena. You will survive.

    Don (wowpictures)

  6. lysandra August 26, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    What a wonderful piece. I am so sorry Serena is having that struggle right now. Keeping that struggle from my daughter has actually been a big part of my inspiration to maintain once I dropped weight. Having a health fanatic husband helps, he doesn’t have to hide anything in our house. I have to go out of my way to make or eat a treat and that helps.

  7. Anne-Marie August 26, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    I clicked through to this from the Flickr link (I look at your posts 2-3 times a day!). This is awesome and brought back some memories of when my daughter was Serena’s age. My daughter, Alex, had beautiful, naturally curly hair when everyone else’s was stick straight, very full breasts for a 13 year-old girl when everyone else was board flat, and very nice curves when everyone else was stick thin. She hated it all! From that time on, my mantra to her was “this is just junior high … this is just high school … the rest of your life is waiting for you and once you graduate, EVERYTHING will change”.

    She didn’t believe me, of course, but it really did happen. She graduated with her beautiful blond curls cascading down her shoulders, her 34C breasts filling out her gown and her voluptuous curves the envy of all the girls as she accepted her ten-thousand dollar scholarship. She wasn’t fat, she was healthy … and happy.

    Jump ahead one year into college. She comes home and hits the town for a night out on Bourbon Street at a club where all the ‘cool people’ hung out. Well, all the cool kids from high school were there and all those popular boys in school who paid her no mind back then wouldn’t leave her alone! She is now the IT girl at home with her former classmates, where she once felt like the outcast.

    I got one of the greatest compliments a mom could ever get just three nights ago. She said to me, “Mom, you were right. It was only high school. Just a few awkward years of my life. It ended and I’ve grown up and look at me now. Thanks for that, Mom.”

    Isn’t that awesome? Serena’s beautiful. She’s just at that age where she doesn’t feel beautiful. Keep reminding her that one day she will, as we all should.

  8. Cybergabi August 27, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Oh my. The most gorgeous girl in the world is worrying about her perfectly fitting weight.

    I’m so sorry for her. It’s so bad that women, even girls, define their value by their tummy shape or the amount of pounds they carry.

    Good luck for her in finding the strength to get over it. Although I’m afraid chances aren’t all too good if you, at 40+ (and looking gorgeous, as everybody tells you), are still cross with your own weight.

    You know I am a “woman of size”, as Jen has put it, so I could easily be disqualified as the ‘fat girlfriend’ who is just as doomed to play a certain role as the ‘skinny girlfriend’ you’re describing. Yet, I wish that rather than feeding her with Weight Watchers tricks, you could find other ways of stabilizing her self-esteem based on values different from what the scale spits out.

  9. Anonymous August 27, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    I’ve been in an on-going battle with my weight for pretty much my entire life, i.e., since about age six. My mother was/is heavy and it never occurred to me until fairly recently that there aren’t that many good men like my father out there who will love and and choose a heavy woman for their wife — and be faithful to her and be proud of her. I don’t know why it didn’t, but I had an experience in the past year or so that really drove the lesson into my brain.

    It’s important to be healthy, but it’s difficult to find peace within oneself and connection with *men* who have been just as twisted by this stuff as we women.

    I have a number of friends with adolescent daughters who are bright and imaginative and they don’t fit the beauty standards. I feel for them, because I know they’re going to have a tough time (if they aren’t already). At their age, I consoled myself thinking: it’ll get better when I’m older because the boys will be men and they’ll be able to see past the fantasy images that I don’t live up to but be ready to seek out other qualities in a woman besides just her looks. So I cultivated my mind and I worked out and played some sports, but never was obsessed with being slender.

    At 32, I’m still looking for the good man who can see me.

    Anyway, it’s not the most important thing, but it’s an important thing. I think the message you are sending is the right one: being conscious about choices and striving for good health and fitness, not just some number on a scale.

    When I was a sophomore in high school, we had all just had our body composition analyzed by electric impulse and my BMI was really low for my weight – lower even than some of my skinny friends – because I was athletic and had muscles and curves. One of my friends on the volleyball team with me – tall, classically beautiful girl – who did modeling at the time said she always lied on modeling forms when they asked her weight because they couldn’t fathom how someone who was 5’10” should possibly weigh 145lbs and look like she did. So she’d just give them a number they’d like and wanted to believe (120 lbs). It was a revelation to me. People have such a skewed perception of what a healthy weight woman looks like. The numbers mean nothing — except in our culture they’re a status symbol and the lower the better.

    And then there was anorexia/bulimia, another thing they’d talk to us about in PE and Health Class at my all girls high school, warning us away, and secretly how many of us were jealous of those girls? It seemed like a “good” disease to have. Something that you were supposed to shake your head at in public but privately you knew and understood, on some level, those girls were the ones with all the social power. And the way they used to describe the profile of the girls with the problem: perfectionists who strive for great grades and excellence in all they do — basically what all of us were aiming for. Like anorexia was a sign you were really giving it your all to be the perfect girl. I’m just saying there was inherently a mixed message, even as the adults were trying to warn us. “This is a disease that affects really high achieving girls – it’s a sign they really want to be in control of their lives.” This is supposed to discourage a bunch of competitive, type-A girls at a college prep school from taking up vomiting after meals as a hobby? Please. The most popular girl in our class had an eating disorder, we came to find out, after she spent a year away because of her anorexia. Her position on the social pyramid was *not* diminished when she returned.

    I hope Serena can stay level-headed about all this, and that she can find peace with her body and happiness with someone who loves her in it when she’s older. I also hope she won’t have to wait as long as I have been. In any case, Serena is a knock out, by anyone with working eyes in their head. And I’m sure she’s got a myriad of other qualities that make her worthwhile – you can kind of see it beaming out of her in the pictures you take and the stories you tell about her.

    Great post, Leslie.

    XO,
    Christina fr. Flickr.

  10. Leslie F. Miller August 27, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Thank you all for such thoughtful posts. I appreciate that you took the time and relived some stressful moments. Our stories are so good as stories; they are so tough as parents. And they are still tough as our little girl selves.

    I do want to address some issues brought up by Cybergabi, because they are important.

    I can’t speak for everyone or even anyone but me, but I agree that the “fat friend” has a role, too, that society has carved out for her. It’s not the same for women as it is for men. As you’ll notice in all the sitcoms, the fat men have the beautiful, skinny wives (nearly all of them except John Goodman). When do you see a hot guy with a fat wife?

    But if my fat friends were to one day be thin—or thinner—I would be cheering them on and encouraging them, not for their appearance (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but because if the desire is there, a reason must exist for it. I know people who can’t walk at the mall without getting winded, people who suffer from depression more severely because they can’t do the one thing that is proven to remedy mood disorders naturally: exercise. So, while the “skinny friend” usually turns out to be the perpetually skinny friend (and something of a bitch when you’re not the fat friend anymore), I would be happy to see fat-friend transience.

    Second, when a child is crying for help because she feels like she is getting fat (and I won’t lie to you; my daughter is a lean, muscular unit with a pot belly!), it would be wrong to simply turn my head away and focus on all the other things that are right about her. It’s like changing the subject when someone asks your opinion. My daughter KNOWS she is an excellent guitar player and that she’s gorgeous and smart. She has something she’s afraid will become a problem and wants to know how to overcome it.

    And Gabi, she’s ten. This means she doesn’t know the stuff I told her. She doesn’t know that a gigantic glass of cranberry orange tangerine juice is 300 calories. And it’s not that she has to know the calorie count, but she has to understand that it’s liquid sugar, it’s not filling her up, and it’s contributing to empty calories that still don’t satisfy her craving for ice cream.

    She needs those tools because she’s at the point where she is sneaking food downstairs. It’s not because she knows it’s wrong; it’s because she doesn’t know it’s wrong.

    I just want to foster some good habits now (like waiting the 20 minutes; she can’t believe how well that works!) so that she won’t be sitting in weight watchers as a college freshman, wondering how she got that way.

    I am glad you are comfortable with your size. I don’t know you in a personal enough way that I could say for sure that you are perfectly at ease and healthy. I can only say for myself that twenty extra pounds on my 5’4″ frame exacerbates every health problem I’ve ever had, from asthma to backaches, from sleep disturbances to reflux. It’s way less about how I look than how I feel, but I think looking better is a fine side effect.

  11. leedav August 27, 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    I was a high school senior who joined Weight Watcher’s so I’d look good in my prom dress. It worked. I achieved lifetime member status but didn’t go back for 18 more years even though I’ve struggles with my weight this whole time. So now I’ve lost 17 lbs. and I’m having a hard time losing more partly because I’m okay with how I look at this weight. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to lose more, but when I can just get up and get dressed in the morning and be comfortable that’s most important to me. So I am glad I have enough life experience to see that my weight is not the all consuming issue it used to be. I am also grateful for the tools Weight Watcher’s reminds me to use.

    I worry about my step-daughter who is largely inactive (refuses to learn to ride a bike) and has a very limited range of acceptable foods. I have been unable to affect her in most ways related to this but what I have done is kept my mouth shut about my own weight issues and try to model healthy eating even if she won’t go there. I make no comments about her body and it seems not to concern her yet. I worry for the future.

  12. Cybergabi August 27, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    Leslie, thanks for getting back. I’m gonna try to answer some of the questions I thought were implicit in your post.

    It’s not that I’ve been happy with my size all my life. Of course, from a health perspective, I am playing a high-risk game. Of course, all the physical things (like walking 5 flights of stairs) are much easier if you don’t have to carry all those extra pounds. Of course, since I am anything but a competitive athlete, my plantar fasciitis/ achilles tendonitis doesn’t have to do with excess sports, but rather with my overweight. And it doesn’t make it easier to know that I could soothe the pains if I was to loose a considerable amount of fat. Because, on the other hand, that also means that the only power in the universe who is responsible for the pain, and for the healing too, is myself. This feeling of guilt (which almost every obese person who is confronted with a health problem has) may be the worst thing about being fat.

    I’m lucky to be almost 6ft tall, and I’m lucky that my fat is distributed all over the place and not only concentrating on the tummy which seems to be less risky, from a health perspective. But the truth is: I have a BMI which is way beyond the ‘obese’ threshold. And have been having it since I was about 5 – with some minor interruptions where I was just classified as ‘overweight’ or ‘mildly overweight’.

    It’s not like I chose to be fat. I’ve been fat all my life. I’ve been a fat kid, a fat teenager, a fat twen, a fat thirty-something and am now a fat forty-something. I think it’s partly my genes (since it runs in both sides of my family), partly the post-war feeding habits of my mother, and partly my childhood traumas (like my father leaving the family when I was 5 and being out of touch ever since, no matter how hard I tried to contact him) which are responsible for me becoming fat in the first place.

    It’s not that I never tried to reduce my weight. I did, in different periods of my life and for a variety of reasons (including men’s expectations, health, being mocked by the less compassionate, and the illusion that I would be a happier person if I was thin), and with a variety of strategies and techniques. Between age 12 and age 14 I went down 55lb. By changing to a high-proteine low-carb diet and cutting the amount I ate down to about half. Between age 20 and age 23 I lost 50lb. By taking the pill. Which unfortunately had some nasty side-effects, like growing a beard and stuff. Between age 26 and age 28 I lost another 50lb. By cycling instead of riding the car or the tram. Between age 30 and age 33 I even lost 110lb. By cycling, gymnastics, eating no sweets, no desserts, no candy, no cake, barely any cheese and dairy products, no alcohol, no sweetened drinks and hardly anything else that’s fun. Basically by following a fruit and crisp bread and vegetable diet. By going to a shrink once a week. By living on my own and having total control over the contents of the fridge. By enjoying the high it gives you when another couple of pounds have dropped, no matter how weak your body feels, how much your knees are trembling, and how much your whole psyche is in turmoil, feeling disoriented, labile, constantly fighting back the tears.

    So, I’ve lost about 265 pounds in my life with dieting (not counting the regular seasonal fluctuations which usually make for another 10-20 pounds a year each time winter changes into summer). I never took diet pills or proteine drinks or commited myself to zero-calory periods or other crash-diets. I know a thing or two about weight loss which is meant to be sustainable, by changing your eating and excercising habits to a healthier life style. And I know a thing or two about the real amount of sustainability of weight loss. Which is, unfortunately, close to zero for me. Since my weight is just back to where it was when I started my last serious attempt to lose weight at the age of 30, which took me 3 years of iron discipline, both in eating and in excercising, while all the time I was working on and finishing my PhD thesis.

    What I learned is that I won’t become a happier person when I’m thinner. Instead I become a person who is more nervous, more in inner turmoil, who is less able to concentrate, who can achieve less, who craves for more cigarettes, who is easily irritable and easily scared, who is on the verge of tears all the time. And who feels unhappy about the fact that she hasn’t become a happier person by becoming thinner.

    What I also learned is that you don’t get ‘better’ men or ‘better’ love (not even ‘more’ love) when you’re thin. With a face like mine and with boobs my size, you get more guys who have the hots for your body, and usually only your body. Which never felt like something particularly desirable for me.

    What I finally learned is that the flattery I would get from others for the achievement made me despise them. I had them, those girlfriends who were cheering me along the way. Who were celebrating each pound I lost, who were supporting me in any way they could. So that our friendship was suddenly reduced to being companions in the battle against my body fat. And after a while, just like I felt I had lost my identity, I felt they had lost my friendship too – some then, and some only during or after I finally gained all my pounds back.

    I also had those who saw what had really happened to me: That I was losing my me-ness. That I was trying to be someone else, and failing in it. That I wasn’t becoming happy, like I thought I would, but instead feeling unhappy for not becoming happy. Feeling sick. That no kind of excercise ever contributed to cheering me up, but instead, although it became physically easier to excercise, I hated it all the time and really had to force myself each and every time I did. That I was becoming physically fit on the outside, but was totally disintegrating on the inside. Those weren’t very comforting to have for friends either.

    I seriously don’t know why it doesn’t work for me. I think I’m just not ready to be thin, to live with all the disadvantages and feelings of loss and hurt and increased sensitivity that come with it. I know I will finally have to lose some pounds, and soon, because of the foot, and because of my arthritic knees and varicose veins which have given me repeated trouble in the past and might do so over and over again. But I know I will have to trick myself into losing weight. Part of the charme of moving to the Netherlands is that everyone cycles to work, and that they have this amazing network of cycling paths all over the country. If I get the job at the uni which I am currently running for (and it looks good that I will get it), that will be 8 miles of cycling each day just for going to work, compared to zero now. I will even sell my car to resist the temptation when it’s raining. Which should have some effect. And I know that if I have my own apartment which I am NOT sharing with a boyfriend, I can much easier control what’s in the fridge. Plus, if I have enough quality time on my own, I don’t constantly feel the need to chew on something. I don’t know where this will take me, I just hope that my foot pain will be better so that I can again go on extended photo walks without being in pain for the next 2 days.

    As for Serena – thanks for that second post, and the clarification. I’m more comfortable with reading this now than with what I read before. Good luck with your battles, and hers.

  13. Leslie F. Miller August 27, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    I’m sure you speak for a lot of people, Gabi. Whether you do or not, it’s an important story.

    You are right, of course, about the happiness factor. Weight loss doesn’t equal happiness, and it can certainly be worse, depending on the number of things one has to give up. Hell, even trying to lose twenty pounds, I whine about giving up a beer a day. Food and fun are so intertwined, as are food and stress. How else do we enjoy our lives or unwind after a hard day?

    And we all know well the feeling that some things are in our control, yet we can’t control them, so we’re weak. I get that with falling asleep. How lame must I be if I have to take sleeping pills to sleep! And any kind of mental disorder feels like it’s our own fault.

    Of course, it’s not.

    Gabi, you’ll have to excuse me today. I’m not writing coherently due to some pain issues.

    I thank you for your thoughtful post.

  14. Mary August 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Oh Leslie, I love this. And I just happened to read it this morning before going to my annual exam. A funny thing happens every time I go to the doctor. I step on the scale, I weigh in right around 152, they take my blood pressure and say it’s quite good (although I don’t know what those numbers mean). When the doctor looks over my records, she always says how good my cholesterol is and my lipids (what are those?) are great. So apparently, I’m healthy, even though according to every media source I’ve encountered, a 5’4″ woman of 25 years weighing 152 is both unhealthy and unattractive. Well it’s a good thing my husband doesn’t read women’s fashion magazines because he has not yet learned that he’s not supposed to find me hot anymore. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen after you get married? You get fat and stop having sex, right? Anyway, love the post. Rock on with yer bad momma self.

  15. mary August 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm #

    P.S.
    I think you’re right on to try and teach your daughter healthy eating habits. At her age, I was pretty much scared of food. I had this weird thing where I would hide what I was eating at lunch and duck every time I took a bite so no one would think less of me for … what? for eating? I’m still rather sensitive about food — I get so offended when my coworker accuses me of being on a diet, and he thinks it’s hilarious! But I basically know how to eat healthy foods and listen to what my body actually needs. Like how some days, I just NEED a salad, for real. And some days (though they’re thankfully rare) I just need a cheeseburger. I don’t believe in dieting, but I do support eating reasonably so that you don’t have to feel bad when you do crave a cheeseburger once a month. So, I think it’s great that you’re giving her the tools to make those smart food decisions.

  16. Ashley August 27, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

    That was a great post, Leslie! I find it hard to imagine that there is any woman out there without a story on this topic so it’s only a matter of time before our children go thru the same thing.

    I remember getting that fat feeling in junior high when I was clearly not. You are growing, changing and no one tells you that you look good and it’s just not the same to hear it after you expressed your fears or concerns of feeling overweight. At 5’4” and 125lbs I was wearing oversized shirts to cover up my cute toosh which I should have been showing off! My mom struggled with her own weight; I wasn’t in sports, so I kind of followed along cutting out the fat and exercising down in my room every night after school. If anything I learned at that time that weight issues were a problem with all the women on both sides of my family and I had to keep a handle on things.

    I really do believe that those insecurities and weight issues are passed on from mother to child in many cases but it will be a way for you to teach your daughter to make healthier decisions just as my sister has had to do after seeing her 9 year old change outfits before school because she thought it made her look fat. My niece, like your Serena is healthy and an absolute beauty so it’s hard to imagine that they are feeling this way but how can they not be affected by something that their mothers have struggled with for years. It will all work out…you are a wonderful loving mother and will give her what she needs to stay active and healthy.

  17. tescosuicide August 30, 2008 at 1:21 pm #

    What an outstanding post. I wish I had more to say than that, but I’m not very good at words. I can say that I’m a little happier that this baby we’re having is a boy. 😉