A Mother’s Impact
‘You can’t always be strong, but you can always be brave’ Beau Taplin
Throughout my 20-year battle with an eating disorder, I had so many times where I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one. There was nothing extraordinary about me, nothing special, and I knew that if this was my battle, then it was the battle of many others.
Every birthday began with a vow that the new year would bring me recovery. I’d have a few good days, and then I’d find myself back on the insidious cycle of binge/purge that my restrictive dieting inevitably led me back to.
When I was at my most unwell, I would find myself knee deep in compliments. Being unwell meant significant episodes of not keeping food inside of me. I would find myself in the bathroom, questioning myself as to why I felt I was so unworthy of nourishing my body, of keeping food inside of me. What had I done to want to treat myself so badly? As the compliments flowed like a river at my shrinking frame, some would tell me I was their body goal, and in my head, I would think ‘If only you knew’. I could never understand why having an eating disorder suited me so much, the worse things were for me, it seemed the better I looked. My desire for approval was sadly being fed.
During recovery I learned things that changed my life. As someone who grew up with a mother who dieted, a mother who lost and gained weight throughout my most impressionable years, I followed in her footsteps. I too became a professional dieter, aware from a very early age that my body was something to battle against, that the smaller it was, the better it was. I spent almost my entire grown up life trying to eat between 1200-1400 calories, weighing and measuring portions, removing flakes of cereal if the scales exceeded my 50-gram allowance. To learn in recovery that the first time I ever restricted was the first time I put myself at risk of an eating disorder was huge for me.
I also learnt that I needed to eat more food. Fancy that! You spend your whole life restricting your calories, and what your body actually needs is more food. I began reading and researching, my desire to understand how I’d gotten it all so wrong took over and I came to understand things about the diet industry and diet culture that people mustn’t understand. Diets are designed to fail. If diets worked, there would be no diet industry, yet we are fatter than ever, unhappier than ever and who prospers from our poor body image? That’s right, not you and I, the diet industry!
My eyes opened liked they’d never been opened before and I knew I had to share what I now understand. Clean eating, detoxes, if it smells like a diet and looks like a diet, then I don’t care what you call it, it’s still a diet!
Our children are watching, our children are listening and I cannot sit back anymore quietly as we impact another generation. Diet culture has damaged so many of us, it has made us unhappy with how we look, and encouraged it. Diet culture wants you to fail, it benefits from your failure. A mother has the greatest impact on her daughter, and in the words of Naomi Wolf, “A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.” I wonder how many of us out there can honestly say we are doing this. You can say all the right things to your children, but it’s what you do that has the greatest impact. If you don’t eat carbs, even if you don’t talk about it, it’s not going unnoticed by your children.
The only way we can work towards vaccinating future generations, is to work on ourselves first. I would be honoured if you would let me help you. I am committed to helping one mother at a time, help one daughter at a time to create such needed change with how we view ourselves and our bodies.
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