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Speak Up: Do Mom's Body Image Comments Matter?

Speak Up: Do Mom's Body Image Comments Matter?

Denise Richards recently told Shape Magazine that she'd never talk about weight around her two young daughters. Furthermore she said, "And they'll never hear me say, 'Mommy's feeling fat today.' That kind of attitude just makes young girls grow up to be dissatisfied with their bodies." And while I can't say I agree with Denise subjecting her daughters to be on her new reality show, it seems as if she's definitely got the body image thing right. I totally agree with her on keeping her, "Do I look fat?" comments to herself. Daughters will mimic their mother's actions right down to asking if they look fat in their pull-ups, which could lead to their own body image issues down the road.

As always I am curious about you guys. Did your mother talk about her own body image issues in front of you when you were growing up? Did it affect you at all? Further more, if you have kids, do you talk about your own body image issues in front of them and do you see it affecting them at all? So speak up and share your comments below.


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miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
My mom was always thin and healthy growing up as was I, so I never really had any issues with negative comments, but when I got too thin for awhile when I was struggling with anorexia, she would always say I'm too skinny and encourage me to get back on track. I did, and I'm healthy again now :)
Puzzle2397 Puzzle2397 9 years
I can remember a few comments from my mom, like "Well, at least you don't have a fat mother." But I don't remember her ever criticizing herself when I was growing up. Now that I'm 22 she freely does, though. She never had issues with my weight when I was growing up...although I never had a problem with being overweight. (I had problems on the other end of the spectrum when I developed Graves' disease.) The issues I've developed come from other sources. I can remember thinking my thighs were too big when I was less than ten because of a babysitter complaining about her thighs. That's just one of the sources. Not so much my mom.
starinajar starinajar 9 years
YES, mom's body image matter! I have experienced this first hand, and as a result, have terrible body image, lack confidence and also self esteem. My mother is taking a medication that, as a side effect, causes some weight gain, although she doesn't seem to have gained much at all. She is much smaller than I am, yet she still complains about her body, more often than before. I've noticed that as a result, I'm starting to hate my body more often than before.
cheeseomlette cheeseomlette 9 years
i am 21 and going through issues with my weight. up to the age of 17 i was stick-thin, and once i stopped growing and started university i quickly gained weight, as well as a more feminine figure. last year, while on holiday with my parents, i had to go through endless comments from them, and they even told me at one stage that i should skip lunch because my stomach looked 'disgusting'. when i got back, i was determined to lose weight. for some reason, it wouldn't go from my stomach, and i reluctantly went to the doctor about it, sure i would be told i was just being stupid. it turned out that i wasn't fat, it was a cyst in my ovary. two operations later, and one year on, i am only dealing with everything now - i never thought before that after a cancer threat, my main worry would be my weight. my parents still make comments on how proud they are to be thin, and i have gained some weight back, i am a healthy 125lbs and 5'6". however, while my parents don't comment as much (i asked them to stop), i still am sensitive to their attitude, which is causing a lot of problems in our relationship. so yes, as many other women have said - mothers, in particular, have a huge influence on body issues. i know for sure that if i ever have children, i will make sure they grow up knowing that they are beautiful. while my parents are great at everything else, and have always tried to boost my self esteem, my mother's thought that body issues are caused by not speaking openly enough about weight, which is completely wrong.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I have an ex-friend who's mother would always say nasty things about her daughter's weight. She'd buy clothes 2 sizes too small and tell her daughter when she lost the weight she could wear them. The friend had younger sisters who were always skinny and their mom praised them. This friend grew up always hating the way she looked and latched on to any guy who would have her, convinced she was fat and ugly. It really screwed up her life and in a way we aren't friends because of the choices she made that I believe she only did because of low self esteem. It didn't make me want to be around her family especially since I was a little bigger than my friend. Her mother would also say bad things about herself and the way she looked even though she was thin.
pequeña pequeña 9 years
I agree 100% with Denise, I don't always like what she does but looks like her head is in the right place. My mum always told me I was beautiful and never talked about weight issues in front of me. I used to be a little chubby as a kid. When I was around 12 or 13, I started to loose weight naturally, just because my body was changing from a little girl's body to a woman's body. I've always kept being slender since then, I still weight exactly the same. I eat healthy, I exercise regularly and I love the way I look. If I have good self esteem and a healthy body image, I think that's because of the way my mum educated me. When your body hasn't changed yet and you are a little girl, I don't think anybody has the right to coment on your body and your mum should be the one to tell you that you are beautiful no matter what. I work with little kids and I see that 8 year old girls feeling pressure to be skinny, and it makes me sad and angry.
svenska svenska 9 years
My mom has always been pretty small and up until a couple years ago I never heard her say anything about her body weight. However, she did make some comments when I was younger (like 10, 11, 12 when I lived with her before I decided to move in with my dad). I remember being 10 or 11 and her telling me not to worry that I would never be as skinny as my little sister (who was 6 at the time) because some people are just big boned - the funny thing is if anything I was too skinny for my age; I played soccer, tennis, was on a swim team, and ran around with my older brother playing basketball and baseball with him. And she use to constantly make cracks about my dad's family, especially his sisters, being overweight. I look back now at 23 and it all seems really silly and petty to me but it really messed me up for a few years where I was really conscious of how big my legs or arms were. My dad on the other hand I've always heard talk about his weight and have seen him do the diets (atkins, south beach, zone) - particularly after he had back surgery when I was in highschool, but whenever he's said anything about my weight to me it's been in a supportive way. Like, if I said something about having too big legs he would say something like, well there muscular swimmer's legs at least they aren't knobby toothpicks. Or if I came home from school and he noticed I put on about five pounds he'd just tell me flat out to watch what I eat a little more or try to get some exercise in - not mean and in an honest way I appreciated.
rafaela-losardo rafaela-losardo 9 years
Excellent decision! Thumbs up for her!!!!
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
My Mom would occasionally say something about her weight, in terms of wanting to drop a few pounds or making a joke about her wide butt, but it was always, *always* followed by a shrug and a "that's life" philosphy. It was observed, but not obsessed over, and it sure as hell wasn't going to stop her from eating a cupcake later if she wanted. ;) My father adores her, love handles and all, and I think that was important to my perceptions, too. I take great care to consider my comments about my and my daughters' bodies. I talk to her constantly about the images of girls and women we see on tv, about how they are about as real as the cartoons she watches. But we *also* talk about how eating too much sugar can make you fat, and how it isn't a good thing. I think a balance is key here.
rpenner rpenner 9 years
My mom never talked negatively about her body image. She did talk to me about eating issues she had when she was younger and the dangers involved and the self esteem issues that caused the eating disorder. She was also naturally tiny. She didn't really lose all the baby weight after having us kids and I think it bothered her a little but she never said anything. She always made sure I had a positive body image and made sure I was comfortable with who I was. So whether she is happy with her body today, she's always made sure I was. And regardless of what she may think of herself, she's still absolutely gorgeous. I've always had issues with my guy friends thinking my mom is hot - but I think it's probably worse for my brothers :)
Mykie7 Mykie7 9 years
It ABSOLUTELY matters. Kids learn from watching the grownups in their lives. That's why it's important for kids to know boundaries, by seeing the boundaries their parents observe. Like with my kids, if we go out to dinner, I make a point of saying "I'll just have a soda thanks, I"m driving." To show them that even ONE drink is bad when you get behind the wheel. My Mom used to say to me, "Hold in your stomach or you'll look pregnant." I know she was trying to help, but that has always stuck with me. It's really important to be positive with your kids, and to let them know that as long as they are healthy, that appearance doesn't matter.
redheath redheath 9 years
I can't believe that I agree with anything that woman has to say, but she is absolutely correct on this one.
RustyAngel73 RustyAngel73 9 years
My mums a naturally bigger woman, and I am too, but she and my dad have always been wonderfully supportive of me and told me I'm beautiful even though the reality is I do need to lose a few kilos. I'm fixing that now with healthier foods and they're totally supportive and helpful with that. No complaints here about their behaviour, although I do have a low self esteem, though thats more due to my bipolar...
joey-beans joey-beans 9 years
I'm a clinical psychology grad student and I work in an eating disorder clinic. I must say that the number one influence I hear girls mention is their mothers, often times leading as far back as they remember. I have been blessed with a mother who has never once commented about my weight, taught me healthy eating habits and the importance of excercise. I actually never even remember knowing how much I weighed in high school, it was such a non-issue and I was always slim and healthy, despite the fact that my mom is probably 20 lbs overweight she never complains about her body. It's really moving to read all these responses - it makes me even more passionate about my career choice and helping the countless amounts of women who have and are suffering with body and self image issues....
onion-waffle onion-waffle 9 years
I watched my mom diet for most of my developing years. She's more genetically inclined to be chubby, not fat, but not skinny, and she controlled it as much as she could. I took after my dad and was a little string bean. Then puberty hit, and I finally broke past 100 pounds at 16, hoorah! Unfortunately, having watched her diet and having her praise me day in and day out for being so skinny, my new normal body had me paranoid as hell. She never wanted to hurt me, but I know that how she viewed herself and how she tried to force herself to have a different body than what she was born with did mess me up a little. 80% of the time, I am proud of my strong, athletic physique. I was a dance major in college, and I work out consistently and am not dumbell-shy. I can do more push-ups than many of my male friends (boo-yah!). But the remaining 20% of the time, like when I'm just having an off day or I see someone with my body type of my olden days, I cringe.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
I don't remember my mother talking about her body in a negative way. But my stepmother, who was perfectly fit and 20 years younger than my dad, was always calling herself fat and old. She would comment on everyone's appearance, so would my dad. This made me very self-conscious about my own appearance. So I never ever say anything negative about myself around the kids.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
Good for Denise! I wish parents took more interest in the correlation between what they say and how their kids' minds develop.
Cestlavie21 Cestlavie21 9 years
And Nicola, don't let that bring you down. Regardless of your "genetics" toning up will make you healthier and you'll feel better. I hope you'll give it another try!
Cestlavie21 Cestlavie21 9 years
I know without a doubt that my parents (both mom and dad) said things that contributed to my own eating "issues." They didn't encourage healthy eating habits either. My dad is 6'4 and very active so he could have 2 portions of everything and never gain an ounce, so I grew up thinking I could do the same. My mom has always struggled with her weight. We ate lots of restaurant food and even when I had home cooked meals I rarely ate vegetables. As I entered my teens, I just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. It was nothing for me to have lucky charms for breakfast and a cookie for lunch, then poptarts for dinner. Ha! I don't blame them for my problems but I'm not naive enough to think they didn't have an influence. Now, as an adult, I've come to realize it's all about eating healthy and staying active. It has really taught me a lesson on how to raise healthy children. Teach them to be active, lead by example to show them healthy choices and portion sizes, and don't say negative things about your body in front of them. I'm so glad to hear Denise is promoting a healthy body image with her kids! It's refreshing = )
allien86 allien86 9 years
my mother has been overweight since I was little, however as a kid I didnt know this and even when I realised it weight wasnt spoken about in our house. I never knew my mother dieted (although I now know she has been on diets on and off for all those years). I was skinny as a child/young teen but towards the end of high school started to gain weight. Fortunately, neither of my parents commented negatively on it and im sure that helped me to not suffer any self esteem/body image issues. I always felt beautiful.
karlorene karlorene 9 years
my mom is constantly worried about every little thing she eats- i have always been a pretty healthy weight but she has definately noticed if i "wasn't working out enough lately". one day i wore a baggy shirt around her and she told me i looked like i had gained weight. three days later i wore a tank top and she told me i looked really skinny lol. that said, i do really have a great mom, but luckily my older sis has always been the one to push not worrying about body image as much- just to be healthy!
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
haha... I'm still reading these comments and I just noticed that fleurfairy's mom told her to put on lipstick because her face was washed out. Hahaha.. My mom would say the SAME thing to me all the time. I would be like "Mom, I'm not putting on lipstick!" (she wasn't saying this when I was 10, but when I was 16, 17). Her other favorite line was "Put on some clothes you're freezing me!" Haha.. She was so cold-natured, and we lived in a big house. I walked around in shorts & tshirts in December and she had on MANY layers! haha
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
I never once heard my mom mention her weight. But then again she was a petite size 6-ish who ate whatever she wanted. Seriously, my mom was the QUEEN of Little Debbie snacks & she also hid chocolate around the house so she could be surprised when she found it. I'm not kidding! I grew up being really skinny (I was teased for it) and therefore I developed unhealthy eating habits (what, 6 Oreos after school is NOT a good idea?). Unfortunately I couldn't eat whatever I wanted once I was about 16. I'm far from fat, but definitely pudgier than my mom was. I now have some pretty bad body issues. But I'm working on it. I sort of wish my mom DIDN'T buy all that junk food, and I wished I learned how to eat healthy when I was younger. I did learn one practice of my mom's that I do as well. She only allowed herself 1 soda a day. She didn't drink one EVERY day, but if she had already had one, she wouldn't allow herself a second. Haha... I love her.
stefsprl stefsprl 9 years
My mom never projected issues like that onto me (she causes lots of drama in other ways! lol), but my MIL is so rude to my husband about his weight that it infuriates me. A couple of years before I met him, he was in the gym twice a day and eating practically no carbs. He was very muscular and fit, but then he went on tour with a band for about a year, which meant a year of fast food and no exercise. Yes, he is a few pounds overweight (we both are, and we're working on it together), but every time we go to visit them (about 4 hrs. away) she makes a comment about how he looks. She even went up to him at a wedding (we hadn't seen them before the ceremony) and told him she almost didn't recognize him because he had gotten so fat! It was the rudest thing. The funny thing is that she has mismanaged diabetes and is extremely overweight. She's so heavy that she needs a knee replacement and can't stand up for any length of time..she has also admitted that she's addicted to food. I tell him that she's just projecting her weight issues onto him, and he knows that he shouldn't take it seriously, but it's super frustrating.
idawson idawson 9 years
My mom was never a little woman - the smallest she was in my lifetime was about a 12 and that was before my youngest brother was born. BUT she has done the "when I was your age ..., or when I was in my twenties ...," - has no affect on me. Later she told me she did diet and exercise to lose the weight. If anything my older brothers would tease me about my size (height and girth). During my teen years my mother did not say anything I just thought I was "fat" because so many of the girls around me (went to an all-girls' school) were thin. But I was also athletic and participated in a lot of physical activity so really I could not have been that big - usually hovered around 10-12 @ 5feet 8inches. Since then my weight has fluctuated (mostly up, up, up) and as I have struggled to lose weight gained over the years, the 'rents have made comments about gaining weight. They kinda stung but only because there was an element of truth to the comments. My father even went as far as to not directly say anything but would get Lean Cuisine entrees. Those suggestions I ignored because they are not nutritious. As of late I have been seeing a nutritionist and so far I have lost over 20 lbs. I am not doing it as a diet as much as i am trying to improve my attitude about nutrition and eating. In our discussions we talk about the impact that observing to a great extent your mother's relationship with food directly affects you (the daughter's) relationship with it. I guess it only stands to reason.
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