When I was a teenager, the model, Twiggy, was the rage: no hips, no butt, no breasts. We girls dreamed of looking like her. It didn’t matter that she was either anorexic or a genetic rarity—if she could be skinny, so could we! With this unhealthy standard in mind, many of us began to diet.
These days, there are too many too-thin models and actresses to name or count. Furthermore, they’re airbrushed. So, not only are girls inundated with images that are impossible to obtain, most aren’t even real! It’s no wonder that eating disorders are epidemic and the demand for cosmetic surgery is at an all-time high. As I mothered my teenage girl, Eliza (who is now 22), I found research that affirmed my role: I, as her mother, was her greatest influence, regardless of the images. I was her example, and she watched me for cues on how to live confidently as a woman in this crazy world of ours. I treasured this.
Eating Disorder Epidemic
In my teen years, I lived by diets: in conflict with food and my body’s size and shape. Before Eliza was born, I began to learn how to trust my body’s natural cues again and let my body find its natural weight. I am proud to say that I raised Eliza in a home without a scale—no number obsession. Like many in her generation, my mother started dieting after the weight gain of pregnancy. Like many in my generation, I started dieting when I was a teenager.
There is an alarming trend happening in my daughter’s generation: girls are starting to restrict their food intake before puberty. As their natural womanly curves develop, a growing number of preteen girls think they are getting fat. These girls have made skipping lunch cool and dieting a grown-up thing to do. If 95% of the people who lose weight on diets gain the weight back and then some, dieting just doesn’t work.
Furthermore, diets can lead to eating disorders. I believe that it is never too late for a mother to heal her relationship with food and her body and positively influence her daughter. I tried to teach and model to Eliza that there is way more to life than her body shape and size and that she is uniquely beautiful inside and out. Despite the insanity that surrounds us, I felt at home in my perfectly imperfect body, and I was able to show her the way.