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Argh - how do I stop my mother projecting her weight/body image issues on unborn DD?

(9 Posts)
eagleray Tue 11-Dec-12 20:30:20

Thanks for all your kind comments and replies - reassuring to see I am not the only one who is subjected to this sort of stuff... Although I was a bit upset, I also felt a bit guilty after posting as Mum is really excited about DD's arrival and I know she will be doted on, BUT the comments will be there! I know I'm not the only person who has to put up with silly comments from their mother - kind of strange that they feel they can say things to close relatives that they wouldn't dream of saying to anyone else. It's almost as if daughters are just an extension of themselves and so they feel justified in saying what they want?

Mum has always been on a diet of some kind or another, on and off. On top of that, I think the slightly unhealthy attitude to food is tied in with her rather traumatic childhood (abandonment by mother, suffering malnutrition while in care and so on). Doesn't make it right, but I think there are a lot of unresolved issues under those flippant comments! She is in her 70s now, so I can't see much changing in the future.

Mixxy - really sorry about your sister in law - that's so sad. Frankly, I think we as a family have had a fairly lucky escape in that none of us have serious eating disorders (sister has weird/fearful relationship with food and is v controlling of weight, but luckily it has never developed into anything more).

I will definitely be keeping an eye on things when DD is here - feeling very protective of her already and just want the best for her!

Thanks again everyone x

TwistTee Tue 11-Dec-12 20:20:44

Definitely nip it in the bud. I get this from both sides of the family. My mother won't tease but she constantly has a go about not letting things get out of hand and gives advice on diet and execise. I'm a 14 normally and after one such talk with her and my sister who also borders on the obsessive about food, I had enough and will no longer talk about weight with either of them. They upset me too much.
My MIL, on the other hand, also obsessive about weight and about a size 8, will point out overweight people in town or in magazines and make comments about 'the state of that'. This could be anyone between a size 12 and 20, and all within my impressionable 4yr olds hearing. I challenge her and on one occasion even went as far as saying, if you think she is 'fat', what do you really think about me. Key lots of embarrassed backtracking.
But really the answer is just to be honest and let them know that this sort of talk is not acceptable either around me or my daughter.

Mixxy Tue 11-Dec-12 19:13:29

My sister in law died of anorexia at the age of 36. Perhaps you'd like to show your Mum some of our family photos and see if that helps her understand.

I'm glad you are being strong for your daughter. A healthy body image starts with you as her mother.

wilderumpus Tue 11-Dec-12 11:34:15

oh dear, you poor thing sad My mum was like this too and sadly in the end, and because of myriad other personality clashes over her drinking ad smoking habits, we no longer talk. I just could not bring DS up in the environment which, apparently, makes me a right stuck-up bore. I hope you have a better outcome smile

Does your mum know she has weight issues? Is she approachable about it? My mum wasn't at all so made all conversation about it impossible. At 20 weeks I was still really slim and she wouldn't stop going on about how piggy she was eating like a pg person, and how she lost a stone when she was pg with me. I cried a lot about my weight gain and DH was completely furious.

It was only when pg I realised I had so many issues with my mum and her parenting of me. I really hope that you can find a way to talk to yours and address them and avoid the conflict I have had because I didn't see how damaging the issues were straight away - I was too busy feeling defensive about my mum and feeling bad about having bad thoughts about her! I didn't stand up for myself enough and was finally pushed out when I did try. Maybe if I had been firmer from the off it would have worked out better...

anyway, sorry for the mammoth post but just really empathise with your situation and hope you have a happy outcome smile and congrats on your DD!

Nicky1306 Tue 11-Dec-12 08:06:40

Your mum sounds a bit like mine OP, I am naturally slim, 5'10 and a size 12, I have wobbly bits like everyone else...... All i heard from my over weight mother when I was a teen was Ohhh when I was your age I weighed this much ( she was skinny in her 20's) or when I was 24 I was the same size you are now (when I'm 16!) now all I hear at 30 weeks pregnant is wow I can't believe how big you are! I've only put on a stone!

Anyway just give it to her straight..... You dont want any of her nonsense around your new arrival, or you for that matter, and if she doesn't comply with your wishes then you will seriously have to consider the amount of contact she has with your DD, this may sound a little harsh but you have to be harsh with someone who thinks a) it's normal and b) ok to be this insensitive and much such cruel remarks......u know this as I am speaking from experience! X x

You have a few years before your DD will understand comments so use this time to nip it in the bud by pulling your mother up every time she says something inappropriate. Also you can help your DD have body confidence by being positive and relaxed about food, and getting her interested in healthy food and exercise. The usual stuff - all food is ok, some is for every day, some isn't, but nothing is forbidden or naughty. If your DD has confidence in herself she will be less sensitive to negativity from other people.

TwitchyTail Mon 10-Dec-12 23:02:20

And I don't think you're being over-sensitive at all, in light of her history and treatment of you and your sister. (If my mother said it I would think it was funny, but she has no body issues and that's the difference).

TwitchyTail Mon 10-Dec-12 23:00:34

You are right to nip this in the bud. Unfortunately, there probably isn't a way to do it without her getting defensive and upset, but that's a price I'd be willing to pay to sort it out.

I would probably sit her down and explain that you've been thinking a lot about her comment about the baby's thighs. That while you're sure she meant it as a joke, you really do not want your daughter subjected to those sorts of comments, and can she please be more aware of it in future. Leave it at that and don't get drawn into an argument. Any time she does it later on, just remind her that you've discussed it and it's not acceptable, then change the subject.

eagleray Mon 10-Dec-12 22:56:23

Bit of background info - mum has always been a bit overweight and tried various diets with little success over the years. I think I was reasonably normal-sized as a child, but there were always slightly cruel taunts about the size of my bum, legs etc from an early age. As an adult I have been a bit overweight, but not massively so, but the 'teasing' continues - was humiliated in front of friends/family at a big event last year when she made a cruel comment about me in front of everyone. My sister, on the other hand, is quite thin (borderline eating disorder) and gets praised/complimented for being slim!

Anyway, I'm currently 34+3 and went to visit my mum yesterday - haven't seen her for a few months and took the 4D scan images/video with me to show her. And as soon as the baby's legs came into view, off she goes! "oh look at the baby's legs - big thighs just like mine" and so on. I can't believe she is projecting her body image shit onto an unborn baby sad

So maybe I'm being a bit sensitive, but I really want to nip this sort of nonsense in the bud before it becomes a bad habit. I'm big/old enough to stand up for myself these days but really don't want DD to become the butt of family jokes just because she doesn't have skinny legs etc. All those 'jokes'/comments over the years did have an effect on my self esteem and feel pretty angry about it, tbh.

Any ideas on how I can get my mother to keep these sorts of comments to herself without upsetting her? Any direct confrontation will, of course, probably end in tears... I just feel so sad that my much-wanted baby is being teased before she is even born!

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