Moms, Body Image Issues and Daughters…Yikes

A few weeks ago, writer Peggy Orenstein published this article in the NYT, called “The Fat Trap.” In it, she talks about the struggle to both make sure that her teenage daughter doesn’t become overweight to the point that it’s a danger to her health (she points to the fact that obesity in teens has tripled in the past few decades) while still teaching her to love her body.

Holy hell! If ever there was a reason to be afraid of having a daughter, this conundrum would have to be it.

But what I love most about Orenstein’s piece is that she is brutally honest about what she chose to do about this situation, how difficult it is, and the fact that it the end, it still might not work.

Rather than avoid the issue altogether and hope it goes away, or choose one side or the other, she’s taken it upon herself to “model something different, something saner.” This means forgoing dieting, not worrying about her weight the way she used to, and eating with abandon and joy. But even that, she says, might not be enough, not to mention the fact that it feels, to her, totally odd:

Honestly? It feels entirely unnatural, this studied unconcern, and it forces me to be more vigilant than ever about what goes in and what comes out of my mouth. Maybe my daughter senses that, but this conscious antidiet is the best I can do.

When we’re constantly bombarded with messages about what to do and not do, what works for your health and your kids health and what doesn’t, and a dizzying and totally unrealistic set of tips and suggestions, Orenstein’s honesty about the fact that even her best might not be good enough is just so refreshing.

Mostly, it’s refreshing because it’s true — get any doctor alone and they’ll tell you that while medicine has a lot of useful suggestions, many of them end there. There’s been bickering ad nauseum between moms about what makes a good mom and what makes a bad mom, and media attention paid to the bickering, and no solution offered. But the reality is that no one has the answers — there’s no cure-all, no single answer for eliminating obesity or preventing eating disorders — there’s only a bunch of people, whether they have MD’s after their names or not, trying to do their best. Perhaps honestly is the best place to start…

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    • Lindsay Cross

      I love it! I loved Orenstein’s article and I love that you love it! Thank you!