August 19 08

some things get to be just yours. some secrets. some issues. they get to be buried and hidden and ignored. or they get to be complained about.

until you have a daughter. and then you have another.

girls by you.

and then your disordered eating and your disordered view of your body doesn’t get to be just yours anymore. because you need to raise two girls. you need to raise two girls to love their bodies. to own their bodies. to take care of their bodies. to do something it’s taken you 30 years to do. (and even now there are days i can’t)

i have never been able to use the term eating disorder. i realize, you are looking at this…disordered eating? eating disorder? it’s all potato/potahtoe. but not to me. people with eating disorders starve themselves. people with eating disorders get so skinny that people start to talk; people start to worry. people with eating disorders binge and purge. people with eating disorders have hair that falls out. people with eating disorders get fuzzy. people with eating disorders look frail like Karen Carpenter. people with eating disorders don’t know they are destroying their bodies, their minds. people with eating disorders DIE. (at least in my head)

no. this isn’t me. i eat carbs for god’s sake!!! what kind of anorexic eats carbs? not a good one, for sure.

what i have is called disordered eating. (at least in my head)

because even though i do eat pizza, i still have managed to have days where i ate nothing but wheat thins and coffee. i’ve had weeks where i’ve eaten nothing but frozen yogurt pie for lunch. i’ve had moments when i look i the mirror and see 111 pounds of nothing but jiggly thighs and belly flab…and even though i *know* i’m not fat i still stand in my closet trying on bathing suit after bathing suit until finally throwing my arms up in the air and saying “i can’t possibly swim at Jack and Ilana’s today. i’m way too fat”

and then in comes Emily.

“Mommy. you look beautiful in your bikini. You are not fat!”

and then i cry.

and cry some more.

because what kind of example am i setting for my daughters??

this, to me, is the hardest part about being a parent. trying to teach your children to NOT be like you. to learn from your mistakes, as opposed to by my example. I can already see Emily, at age 7, worrying about what she’s wearing and looking cute and she once made a comment about her bum looking big in a pair of shorts. and i died. (because it comes straight from my mouth. she hears me make comments all.the.time.)She has an insatiable appetite right now and could eat all day. literally. she’s lucky. right now she’s skinny.

but what happens when she gets older? she knows that fruits and vegetables are a good choice over cookies and chips. but how do i explain to her that sitting down and eating THREE oranges at a time really isn’t the best choice? but how do i, at the same time, explain to her that i will love her no matter what?

I need to find a balance. i need to set a good example for my kids. and i don’t want to become Celia Hodes. if you don’t watch Weeds, STOP READING THIS POST RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND AND WATCH. Celia Hodes is a suburban housewife with a daughter, Isabella, who doesn’t exactly fit her mold. Celia calls her daughter Isabelly and signs her up for bootcamp. and replaces Isabelle’s secret stash of chocolate with laxatives.

i don’t even know where i was going with this. it’s just that there are so many things i want. i want to love my body. really and truly love it, inch-pinching and all. i want to set a good example for my girls (and my boy, too!)

i just don’t know if i can.

  1. We all want to set a good example for our children in ALL we do. You recognize what you say and do and how your kids will perceive it and that is half the battle won right there. Some people don’t even see how they can affect their children negatively. The rest will be determination and consistency for all of us. None of us are perfect!


    Comment by Sarah on August 20, 2008
  2. I was JUST thinking the same thing this morning!! My body issues came from hearing my mother look at herself in the mirror and calling herself fat. I remember her sitting in the living room with company and her holding a pillow on her stomach so that she could “hide” it. I did/ do the same thing.

    I have two daughters and I have issues with my weight- I always have. I will try my hardest to never berate my girls for eating something unhealthy (though I plan on serving them mainly healthy dinners/ snakcs) and to not eat emotionally. I want to teach them to love their bodies no matter what the shape.

    Even though that entails me never mentioning the words “I have to lose weight” next to my daughters- I mean, dont we all curtail the things we say in front of our kids… this oculd just be one more thing that can be considered a curse word.?

    Mayas last blog post..Kindness of Strangers


    Comment by Maya on August 20, 2008
  3. I love this post, Ali. I love your honest and your openness.

    I struggle with my body every single day. I’ve always been curvy, and a bit ‘thicker’, but I gained a shitload of weight when I was pregnant with Julia. My mom had just died and I ate to comfort myself. I have never been this heavy, in my entire life, and even though I know I’m not FAT, I’m chubby, and I can’t wait until I have time to actually go to a gym and get myself to a weight that I am proud of…even though since Oliver was born I have lost sixty pounds.

    There’s this Arrested Development song called “Mama’s Always On Stage” and it’s true – we are always on stage, and being a mum is so hard – you want your kids to eat right and make good food choices and you want them to feel good about yourself and sometimes that’s hard when you don’t feel that way about *yourself*.

    You’re a good mum, Ali. Don’t forget that.


    Comment by mamatulip on August 20, 2008
  4. You’re aware of it, and that’s more than half the battle. I’m sure your girls (and boy) will grow up just fine.

    This was an incredible post.

    SciFi Dads last blog post..Unfiltered


    Comment by SciFi Dad on August 20, 2008
  5. well, you appear to already be giving them the most powerful weapon against issues like this… honesty with one’s self and that is the shiznizzle (I think Sartre said that)

    furiousballs last blog post..Yeah, I’m doin’ the drywall up there at the new McDonald’s


    Comment by furiousball on August 20, 2008
  6. That picture of your girls is so gorgeous. I agree with Sci-Fi dad, that being aware of it is huge.

    We can’t be perfect. We can give them tools and set an example, but we’re going to slip up.

    We just need to try to demonstrate best choices as much as we can.

    threeundertwos last blog post..I am so spectacular


    Comment by threeundertwo on August 20, 2008
  7. I think this is fabulous. My daughter is only 15 months but I’m already catching myself saying unkind things about MY body. I don’t want her to hear those things.

    It’s hard to teach kids about healthy eating habits, at least for me, as I’d rather eat pie and chips than fruits and whole grains.

    Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for childrens last blog post..Spirit


    Comment by Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children on August 20, 2008
  8. eating issues are so hard to deal with. i am overweight but i am doing something about it. i don’t complain about my size.but i do complain about all the distorted messages my girls are being saturated with…knowing you have issues and not wanting to pass them forward to your children makes you an aware and caring mother Ali.that pic is so sweet of the sistahs together.xo


    Comment by LAVENDULA on August 20, 2008
  9. Great post Ali. I think it’s a common battle in our society. You’re fighting your own urges, but also protecting your girls from our culture. As a teacher I find that I need to be careful as well that I don’t say that I’m ‘getting fat’. And when I teach nutrition, I want it to be for health and not for looks. Except that I don’t really eat for health, I eat for my looks! If I eat ‘bad stuff’, I feel guilty. I’m not a mom but I still need to watch my influence. Best wishes with this on going challenge.

    Heathers last blog post..First Date


    Comment by Heather on August 20, 2008
  10. This was a very good post, my friend.

    As someone who grew up chubby (who am I kidding? I’m still chubby!) I know that the thing I take from my childhood is my mom never mentioning it. (My dad is a whole other story.) And loving me for being me whether I was fat or thin or short or tall.

    You just teach her good habits (and really, three oranges is WAY better than 3 bags of cookies, so pick your battles, I say.) And I’m pretty sure she knows she’s loved.

    It’s hard, but in the end she’s going to feel confident because you love her and you make her feel beautiful and confident.

    Kristabellas last blog post..How’s This For Embarrassing?


    Comment by Kristabella on August 20, 2008
  11. I have to agree with everyone else – Great Post. I understand the needs for a new word for eating disorder but not all of us anorexics are frail or have our hair falling out. I’m going to do a post about my battle with Anorexia later this week. Please check it.

    You are giving your girls what they need most LOVE and CONFIDENCE. Awesome Job.

    Kalle Cs last blog post..Controversy in the blog…?


    Comment by Kalle C on August 20, 2008
  12. BTW- Do you have a link for the manga creator?

    Mayas last blog post..Nurturing Individuality


    Comment by Maya on August 20, 2008
  13. I have had you subscribed in my reader for months and this is the first post that me me think *YES* I get you!

    I am pregnant with my first child and share your concerns about what sort of lessons I will be teaching my child as they go through life… (And wondering how much of my baggage they will pick up and carry as their own…)

    Thank you for putting into words what I have been afraid to.

    Muses last blog post..Advice from my Sister-in-law…


    Comment by Muse on August 20, 2008
  14. I so, SO hear you on this, Ali.

    And I, too, Struggle with disordered eating…

    Angellas last blog post..Extreme Makeover: Laundry Room Edition


    Comment by Angella on August 20, 2008
  15. It must be hard being a good role model for your daughters.

    Everyone has issues, don’t we? I’m on the other end … I’d love to lose some weight but I’m having a hard time getting back on track.

    Teena in Torontos last blog post..The Monkey’s Paw


    Comment by Teena in Toronto on August 20, 2008
  16. I love you! I love your honesty and your candor.

    (This post showed a dead link in my reader last night and I just not got it or I would have been here sooner – you’re my first morning read!)


    Comment by sam {temptingmama} on August 20, 2008
  17. Wow. Ali, this post is incredible. I can’t even imagine the enormity of having to help little people form their own body images.

    I have struggled with disordered eating on and off for a long time.

    Thank you for putting this into words far better than I have ever seen.

    Sarahs last blog post..I Have Arrived


    Comment by Sarah on August 20, 2008
  18. That Isabelly thing just about made me start to cry.

    When I was 17 I was – at 5’7″ – 89 pounds. My back molars were rotting out of my head from vomiting so much. I was, at 26, 119 pounds when I got married, and then I had a child and something about that was sort of more overwhelming than my desire to be painfully thin for the rest of my life. But I well remember the obsessive desire I felt to be skinny, how I always felt fat, the years of eating disorder therapy I went through….

    Rebeccas last blog post..Green


    Comment by Rebecca on August 20, 2008
  19. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Weeds. So let me just say you have excellent taste. ;-)

    Second, I hear you. Mimi recently asked me why I was dieting, and I started to say “Because I’m fa…” and realized that I don’t want her to hear me using those words. (It’s SOOO tough not to say it though.) So I just explained that I’m trying to make more healthy choices when I eat, which is true too.

    And really, that’s what I want myself to focus on even more than just the weight loss. I want to live to meet my girls’ kids and grandkids. :-)

    Nancys last blog post..Writing with sunshine


    Comment by Nancy on August 20, 2008
  20. Here’s a little confession – I read part of this post last night, and I cried. I have been in treatment for disordered eating. There are days – many, many days – when I think I should still be there. I read the gist of this post last night after we’d had cake and ice cream for my son’s birthday. It was quiet in the house, finally, and everyone else had tarried off to do something else. So it was me. And the cake. And the ice cream. And I wanted them. I wanted to devour them and use the lie I knew I’d have to later when an explanation as to where the treats had disappeared to was asked. I’ve lied a lot and for a very, very long time.

    I sometimes think/have thought ‘thank God I have sons’ because I was scared what I would pass down to my children if I’d had girls; however, as my oldest is getting older, he’s very aware of the things I say, and I’ve heard some of those things twisted a bit to fit complaints he’s made. The boy is skin wrapped on bones, but he fears being fat, as he says it. I stress that it’s about being healthy and making choices, but it’s like hearing my voice come out of him sometimes.

    I could go on and on about this. I know exactly where my disorder is rooted at. I grew up watching and learning by example and being threatened verbally by it. Clearly, I’ve not yet shaken it all.

    I think there are a lot of us out there.

    differentkindofgirls last blog post..enjoy the silence


    Comment by differentkindofgirl on August 20, 2008
  21. I’m sure this post was very hard to write and I commend you.

    I used to throw up everything I ate in high school and it’s still an uphill battle sometimes. I don’t have children, but I know I don’t want my future daughter to have to go through what I went through.

    I’m know you are a great mother and the fact that you are conscious of this is important. Some people don’t even know what they are doing and that does the most damage.

    Lissas last blog post..Fear


    Comment by Lissa on August 20, 2008
  22. I love this post and I wonder about the same things, just differently. Maya wants to be freaking Hannah Montana and I think to myself, please kid don’t start down this road. But i guess they all need heroes.

    I was an average kid, nowhere near as skinny as my girls are, but put on weight when i hit puberty. And it’s genes, cause I starved myself and tried every diet known to man as a teen. Then I gave it up. Most days I’m okay with who I am, but not always. But it hasn’t made me not look in the mirror and then change while saying negative shit. We have made the term fat a bad word in our house. Which is insane, because we have to force feed our kids to maintain being on the charts for weight (highest we’ve ever gotten to is 7th percent…I’ve had people not believe they are mine, cause I’m a big girl and my kids could blow away in a strong wind). There are no easy answers, but i guess part of parenting is trying to model something better for them. So that hopefully no matter what they look like, they accept and love themselves.

    Issas last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: the Issa can’t type or fasten her bra edition


    Comment by Issa on August 20, 2008
  23. This was such an amazingly honest and heartfelt post, Ali, and it’s damn near making me cry. I don’t know what to say right now beyond you really are lovely, and I’m so glad you wrote this.

    (Oh, and WEEDS. Yes, LOVE it.)


    Comment by Kerri Anne on August 20, 2008
  24. I freaking love you.

    Loralees last blog post..WHOOPS! I hate it when that happens!!


    Comment by Loralee on August 20, 2008
  25. This is why I love you! Bravo from another girl with food issues! (That’s what I call it, anyway.)

    Bris last blog post..My Unhealthy Addition to a Facebook Application


    Comment by Bri on August 20, 2008
  26. I don’t have kids yet and I think about how my negative body image will affect them. Good to know I’m not the only one.

    regans last blog post..aww shucks, you guys are nice


    Comment by regan on August 20, 2008
  27. I love you Ali. And I have the same concerns about my very hypothetical children.

    slynnros last blog post..Gone Fishin’


    Comment by slynnro on August 20, 2008
  28. Love this post. I worry about the same thing ALL. THE. TIME. I am trying not to say bad things about myself in front of Maddie, but it’s hard. Maybe I should stop saying bad things about myself, period.

    heather…s last blog post..Lunch Time Stripper


    Comment by heather... on August 20, 2008
  29. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.

    I’m there with you. And you know I love you.

    beccas last blog post..What we do not make conscious.


    Comment by becca on August 20, 2008
  30. I have two girls, one of which is five. for the past year, she constantly comments about being fat. i have found eating disorders come in all sizes, shapes and spectrums of too little to too much. while i have issues with too much of a good thing, i make it a point to not say anything about myself around my 5 yr old. sadly, she’s learned this quite early and it makes me so sad.

    gorillabunss last blog post..what do you think


    Comment by gorillabuns on August 20, 2008
  31. There are posters at my peds office showing young girls asking if their butt looks fat. I am so careful not to say this in front of my girls but
    I think my nanny talks to my daughter about people being fat and so help me if I catch her I will strangle her.


    Comment by lisa b on August 20, 2008
  32. It’s not called an eating disorder…it’s called polymorphic disassociative disorder.

    Like you’re looking at yourself in a funhouse mirror all the time. And the reason you (me, we) have this is because of somebody’s ideal. Not your own.

    I am struggling with trying to impart good habits and good self image to my 8 year old as well.

    This was very well put and gives me lots to think about as I bitch about myself in front of my girls.


    Comment by swirl girl on August 21, 2008
  33. “trying to teach your children to NOT be like you”

    You said it. At least, not like I was as a kid. Which is due mainly to my own mother’s misplaced focus and my desire to please her.

    It’s about being healthy and enjoying life. That’s the message I’m trying to emphasize with my girls.


    Comment by mothergoosemouse on August 21, 2008
  34. Great post Ali. I have nothing to add because everything has already been said!

    Rubys last blog post..The Colbert Report


    Comment by Ruby on August 21, 2008
  35. I just added you to my reader tonight and went to read automatic 10 posts that come up. This was the first one.

    This was such an issue for me, and I still concern myself with it every day that I have half a pack of rice cakes and five cups of coffee.


    Comment by Zoeyjane on August 21, 2008
  36. Really well written post. A glimpse at the inner you. Thank you for sharing it!

    Oh, I totally hear ya about this one. I am trying to be super aware of how I act and what I say to the bunny because I have the same worries you do.

    Multi-Tasking Mommys last blog post..Widening Wednesday Week 33


    Comment by Multi-Tasking Mommy on August 21, 2008
  37. All of us out here know you can. It’s just a matter of you knowing that.

    Chris Cactuss last blog post..Crime and Punishment


    Comment by Chris Cactus on August 21, 2008
  38. You know how I feel about this post. And how much I love you for writing it! *hug*

    Misss last blog post..Cooking with Miss


    Comment by Miss on August 21, 2008
  39. Ali! I am SO there with you on this. Its f’ing hard!
    Every single time we sit down to eat, I worry about the language I use with my kids. About encouraging them to eat enough but not letting them get away with just junk, or making a meal out of white rice – not broccoli or pork or whatever. I measure every comment I make to my kids about food. I want them to eat when they’re hungry. And thats all. and I’m bad – I buy stuff and hide it from them, then after the kids are in bed hubby and I gorge on ice cream bars or cookies or … whatever. But I’m trying. I don’t emotionally eat so thats something I hope to pass along. At least.
    This is a really tough subject. Good post on it.

    monstergirlees last blog post..A Wing-ed Horse…


    Comment by monstergirlee on August 21, 2008
  40. I have a six-month old daughter and I have been thinking about these very same issues – not only with food, but with EVERYTHING that I see about myself that I don’t like. It’s a tough one. But thanks for writing about it!

    Rebecca (Bearca)s last blog post..change of plans


    Comment by Rebecca (Bearca) on August 21, 2008
  41. It’s hard dealing with my body when it was super-fit and a size 4 and now is stuck post baby (3 years almost!) size 8. Ick…

    When I lived on the West Coast pre-baby it was so much easier to be active and fit without going to the gym.

    Anyhow, I too struggle when I look in the mirror or see myself in photos and think “is that how I look now?”. Don’t want my daughter to feel this way about her body.

    Mamaloopers last blog post..Monkeydad sandwich


    Comment by Mamalooper on August 21, 2008
  42. First, you are so freaking adorable.

    Second, I think you can do it and do it well, because you know the struggles they will face. You can give them the knowledge you’ve gained and maybe keep them from the hard part of it.

    Kylas last blog post..I’m an idiot.


    Comment by Kyla on August 21, 2008

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