It’s the word no one likes to use. Except for my 3 year old daughter.

At a family gathering, she walked up to my mother in law with a few simple words.

“Grandma, you’re fat.” She responded quickly. “Yes, and you’re skinny.”

End of discussion.

No judgment. No euphemisms. No excuses.

There might have been 20 adults that were present for that interchange. I sat mortified in the corner, wondering about the right time to have sensitivity training for a toddler.

She was right, of course. No one in the room had much to say. I took my MIL aside and apologized. She smiled nervously and changed the subject.

My own mother was fat. She died years before my children arrived. I wonder what her reaction would have been to the same candor ?

We watched her lifelong struggle with weight. She married “Jack Sprat”, gave birth to 6 thin children, which made it so much worse. She used to encourage us to eat more, saying in a joking voice “I don’t want people to think that I’m eating all your food”.

She was frustrated that she always weighed more than our dad. When they married, she was a healthy 5 ft. 8 in. and 140 lbs. He was 6 ft. 2 in. and 138 lbs.

LuckyShe tried everything, having some success with Weight Watchers and TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly); I still have the charm bracelet that marked her milestones…5 lb. lost, 10 lb. lost, etc.

She also smoked to lose weight. It was the 1960’s. After all, the advertising wouldn’t lie. Sadly, it did work for her. But not for long.

ShakesExercise, hypnosis, pill supplements provided temporary results.

Along came Metrecal, developed first as baby formula, then a supplement for folks who could not digest whole foods.

It soon became the meal replacement shake of its time.

Her most significant weight loss came with periods of mania, which were not properly diagnosed, went untreated, and were always followed by the weight gain of deep depression. The vicious cycle.

She never got to that goal weight. Not even with the cancer that took her life at age 53.

My own weight obsession was the polar opposite of hers. I was borderline anorexic, a term that was not used then.

I’ve been wanting to address the issue for some time. I’ll no doubt call it “Skinny”.

To be continued….

This entry was posted in Childhood, Family, Health Issues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Fat

  1. Nurse Kelly says:

    It is a vicious cycle, and I hope you didn’t suffer with it. Thank you for addressing the never-ending battle with body image. Sounds like you could write a lot on this. πŸ™‚

  2. Angie Mc says:

    Our poor mothers. And what about all the fake food? Fake chemical butter, fake chemical sugar?Honestly, what a mess of a time is was to be a woman. My mother, too, struggled with weight (still does) and that struggle is so much a part of her which is harder to see than the pounds themselves. I don’t see the pounds, or lack of them, on people. Tough stuff to address but if there is a woman to do it, Van, it’s you.

  3. Sad. I was listening to story on BBC Radio yesterday which spoke about different levels of certain types of gut bacteria that may drive obesity. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-23970219

  4. Kids are so honest and just say what’s on their minds. I think your MIL handled it well. So sorry to hear your mom struggled with her body image. Your dad was 6’2″ and weighed 138??? How is that even possible? Wow! ❀
    Diana xo

  5. Thumbup says:

    Adorable kid you got there! Couldn’t help but giggle!

  6. I know for myself, as I age, it’s a whole easier to gain weight and a whole lot tougher to lose. Sigh. I really did not appreciate metabolism I had in my twenties.

  7. As you know I too am having trouble with my weight. It is such a huge issue whether under or overweight. I am looking forward to reading your next instalment.

  8. I feel for those who struggle with weight, members of my family included. It’s feels like a never-ending battle. Thankfully people are becoming more conscious of the chemicals in their food, while our culture is slowly recognizing that healthy bodies aren’t stick figures.

  9. cindy knoke says:

    Important series about a subject that is not easy to write about~

  10. Ritu says:

    It is a hard subject yo write about, especially if you’ve experienced problems, but issues that do need to be raised. Look forward to the next part!

  11. I feel ya, Van. It’s all in our genes and has much to do with the proliferation of fast food. Once I got that in my head it helped. I never was the skinny model type anyway and I never will be. The perception of healthiness is so much more important. Those skinny women are not healthy and neither are the women 30+ pounds overweight. Weight loss and maintenance is a never-ending battle. All we can do is our best. ❀

  12. Image and weight issues are a very real problem. We have one daughter who suffered from anorexia. She wasn’t fat, and still isn’t, but she saw herself that way. Fortunately the help she received, and our support has helped her. But, its a real problem for a lot of families, to be sure.

    • It wasn’t labeled as an eating disorder until almost 1969. I’m sure it affected folks for a long time before that, but without a diagnosis. My daughter was rail thin for a while as a teen; we assumed it was just genetics, she has said otherwise. Even when it happens to you, it is hard to recognize in another loved one.

  13. amommasview says:

    Crazy how eating can be such a huge issue. Body shapes, weights… And then it’s so influenced by the media and advertising. Shaming celebrities who gain weight (maybe even going from being too skinny to a healthy weight…). When will it stop? Where will it stop?

  14. George says:

    I’m interested to hear your follow up. Soamy people have made this such an issue that sometimes we only hear the politically correct or newsworthy comments. Reality is so much different.

  15. lbeth1950 says:

    Looking forward to part 2. Well done.

  16. lbeth1950 says:

    Reblogged this on Nutsrok and commented:
    Reblogged from Vanbytheriver

  17. markbialczak says:

    I was what they used to call husky when I was growing up, Van. Then I ate too much and drank too much and worked too much and it got out of control in my adult years, and I got too heavy by anybody’s standards. At 5-foot-11, I was up to 230 pounds. But eventually I leveled off to around 200, 20 years into the battle against diabetes. Now, on doctor’s orders and changed prescriptions, I am at 180, and people are asking me why I’m so thin! Go figure.

  18. Amy says:

    It is wonderful that you are getting this dialogue going. So much to think about.

  19. Hi Van
    I’ll skip the serious comments, my mother weighed 300LB. I am more healthy/curvy, keep the kids away from me. I’ll make them go outside to get a stick. I’m sure your MIL loved that.

    • Good Morning, M. At 300, I suspect many just give up…so sad to witness growing up. My MIL says she got over it, and of course, my daughter didn’t remember the remark. Still…

      • I’m nominating you for The Dragon Loyalty Award, not much work involved. I hope to complete post today. I have a migraine after all the drops doctor put in eyes for test. Still no answers….didn’t want to hear that.
        Why do you the cartoon guy on your about page? It uncured to me last night.

      • It’s a caricature of Matt Foley, the motivational speaker character created by Saturday Night Live comedian Chris Farley. He was a mess…in his words “thrice divorced, and lives in a van..down by the river”. He inspired my pen name. ☺☺

      • Only you can appreciate what floats right by the masses!
        πŸ™‚ You will hopefully receive your link on award. If not, it’s up in post.

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