Skip Nav
Intermediate Workouts
Incinerate Fat and Build Muscle With This Kickass Printable Workout
Full Body Workouts
CrossFit-Inspired 200-Rep Bodyweight Workout
Workout Clothes
APL's Fall Colors Are Here — You're Going to Lose Your (Sneaker) Head Over the Lavender

Speak Up: Has Your Family Ever Pressured You to Diet or Be Thin?

We learn a lot about relationships from our immediate family. Not only do we learn how to relate to other people, but also things like money and food. If fact, researchers have found that sitting down to regular family meals can help prevent eating disorders. Ahhh . . . but the home front isn't always so sweet and homey, and negative lessons can be learned in there as well. I think of the painful mother-daughter relationship in Spanglish, where the character played by Tea Leoni buys clothes many sizes too small for her daughter.

How was the family dynamic around food and body image in your house while growing up? Did anyone pressure you to lose weight? If you're a parent, how do you talk about your weight in front of your kids? How do you talk to them about their food choices? For being one of our basic needs, food can be quite an emotionally-loaded subject. Share your stories in the comment section below.


Join The Conversation
Da-Ly Da-Ly 9 years
Ugh. From an asian family. My dad's side is entirely skinny. My grandmother's sisters are all big except for my grandmother. My mother, my aunts and my uncles are all thin, and my brothers are thin. I am the only one who somehow took on my grandmother's sisters size and I got treated like crap for it. I've been 5'2" since I was 14, and at that time I weighed in at 110lb. However, that was the year that my mother bought a little convenience corner store and insisted I be the one to watch it during the weekends and in the evenings till it closed. Hmm... teenager + nothing stimulating + junkfood. Yeah, you can imagine what happened. I got treated like crap by my family telling me constantly that I'm fat, should skip a meal or two and exercise more instead of "doing nothing." I was at the family store during all my spare time, except for the time I had piano lessons or school. Anyways, long story short, my teenage life was hell, I was very happy to leave for college, but up to that point I had major issues with eating disorders and body image. It was during college that I made peace with my body type and settled for being fit rather than weighing under 100lbs or looking as thin as my Vietnamese relatives. Oh, and I never visit my Asian relatives back home. Never again. My skinny cousins were part of the reason for my bulimia.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
My family tends towards obesity on my mom's side of the family, which is clearly genetically dominant (for other reasons than weight). We're not small - I'm the shortest of the women at 5'7", and we have big frames to begin with - but the majority are definitely obese. My mom has struggled with her weight since she was a kid - my grandmother put her on a "diet" the first time when she was 8 or 9 - and she would do diets like Weight Watchers (she never cheated and STILL gained weight) and never lose a pound, despite being crazily active. But we didn't get fed terribly healthy food, and the attitude was always one of "clean your plate" and there were always second helpings of things. That is, when the whole family wasn't put on the Slim-Fast diet or whatever. My sister and I both gained quite a lot of weight - I managed to stay somewhat slimmer by figure skating competitively and swimming and playing softball and doing lots of training and dance, but I was never smaller than a size 12, even at my skinniest! When I was in high school, my mom finally got gastric bypass surgery (she was 400 pounds at the time) and lost nearly 200 pounds. Now that she's lighter, she's happier, but I think the whole family has a skewed relationship with food. And her cooking still isn't what I'd call healthy, but there's not much I can do about it :-( My own struggles with weight, fitness, and body image are another convoluted tale altogether...
Spectra Spectra 9 years
What's really weird, now that I think about it, was that my parents never really commented on my weight as a teenager even though I was overweight, but they gave my sis a really hard time about gaining 5-10 lbs in high school...and she was way thinner than me! I think she maybe got up to about 135 lbs (she's my height, 5'3") and my mom and dad kept on joking that she'd need new clothes soon and that she should start trying out for sports to lose weight, etc. When I started losing weight and getting healthier in college, my mom told my sister that she should follow my example. And actually, she cut out junk food and lost about 15 lbs and got healthier, so maybe it was an ok thing.
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
My family is all fairly tall (I'm 5'11", mom is 5'10", dad is 6'0"), but my parents were a lot thinner when they were my age. I think its partially from them having faster metabolisms at that age, and partially because my mom didn't have a healthy relationship with food. Plus, both my parents worked very physically exhausting jobs (my dad was in construction, mom was a waitress/nurse for a long time and helped out with dad's construction business), so they would feed me dinner and then fall asleep without eating much themselves. I was healthy for my height all through high school (I wore a size 10/12 and looked fairly thin), played two sports, and then went off to college, where I promptly discovered late-night eating and drinking. And so I put on the freshman 15. And Mom hasn't stopped talking about my weight, since. I tried things like Metabolife (heart racing, anyone?), cut my calories down to nothing - around 1000 a day, and dropped weight quickly. But it didn't last. So I started working out. And was doing fairly well. I looked good, I felt good. And I still wasn't thin enough. In 2001, when I got into a skiing accident, I ended up with 2 herniated discs in my neck and on a prescription for heavy steroids for almost a year. Prednisone will make you gain 30 pounds just by seeing it. And weight put on from medical steroids is the hardest to lose. To this day, I'm still working very hard to drop the weight. I'm training for my first marathon (after starting running only in January), I teach two dance classes a week, work with a personal trainer once a week and take a spin class. Mom is definitely noticing that I'm getting more toned. But sometimes I just wish that she wouldn't have to bring it up or ask me about it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I. SEE. HER. She is so focused about her own weight, that she projects her mindset on me, and that's all she wants to talk to me about. And in front of everyone. ALL THE TIME.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
all the time since i've been overweight. my mom actually started telling me to stop eating or i'll regret it when i was still 120lbs, but i didn't listen...
shepptacular shepptacular 9 years
My family is very blunt and will just say "you got fat" but for the most part the most annoying comment was one from my aunt where she said I lost "too much weight"....I was at a healthy weight range but apparently that's not good for have to take what family says with a grain of salt but I know my immediate family has never made me feel anything less than beautiful
supermodelo supermodelo 9 years
i used to be chubbier as an adolescent--5'6", around 140 at my heaviest, and my parents would give me so much grief about it because they both have freakishly fast metabolisms and constantly try to gain weight, but cannot. I soon dropped down to 105, 5'6.5/5'7", and kept feeling dizzy/almost blacking out with any physical activity, but now I'm back to around a toned 130 at 5'8". This is still way too fat for my parents, and now I'm trying to get to around 120-125 and stay there. My mom weighs 105 at 5'4", btw...she is really tiny for her age.
ammogirl ammogirl 9 years
I grew up hearing comments like, "fattie fattie two x four, can't fit through the bedroom door" and "two ton tessie" from my parents--and I never weighed more than 120 pounds at 5'4". I started purging at 16 and my senior year just stopped eating. I lived on one red bell pepper and 6 diet dr. peppers a day, and within 3 months had gotten down to 83 pounds. That was 19 years ago and to this day I still struggle with my body image. Because of this I try very hard to not be negative at all with my two teenage daughters in regards to their weight. Instead, I encourage healthy eating and exercise, but I never push. We have cheat nights, and I would NEVER tell them they looked fat, ever. Ugh...parents have more influence on their teenage daughters than they realize. I've never really forgiven mine.
anna_muffin anna_muffin 9 years
I have 3 siblings and for some reason, all of us started having problems with weight when the puberty came. My sisters first starved themselves, then gained too much weight, then one of them started exercising too much, then I gained 30 pounds just before high school....anyway, my mom of course always tried to discuss our eating habits with us and how to get back to the 'normal' weight, an approach that rarely works and only makes you feel worse, when you're already very sensitive about your weight....but I can't say I blame her for the recent years the women in my family finally figured out some way to stay healthy, fit, and 'normal' weight, but my brother is getting fatter every year and I'm really concerned about his health and I don't feel like I can just let him I think I understand where my mom was coming from...
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
My family never had regular sit down meals. :/ I don't think that was the reason I developed eating problems though?! I think bullying at school had more to do with that... I remember my mother approaching the subject of my weight one time (I was an overweight and unhealthy kid) and I shrugged it off at the time. They never got on my back about it but I WISH THEY HAD.
mem952 mem952 9 years
i'm pretty lucky. my mum was always totally relaxed about food and weight. we always ate a really good variety of food but we knew the whole 'cookies are a sometimes food' philosophy because junk food was never taboo but we knew it shouldn't be eaten every day. in fact, whenever people would comment on how skinny i was it would make my mum pretty uptight. i think she thought we should be praised on what we could do, not how we looked. having said all that, i wish my mum could have given herself the same attitude to her own body! she is not in shape but in her mind she is really fat and old. i wish i could let her know how beautiful she is to us!
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 9 years
omfg krazykarot! I can't imagine that. I just want my daughter to stay active. She's only 2 and 3mths so far and she luvvvs to eat. For now I let it slide since she is growing, but I know next year I want to make sure she eats much healthier. It doesn't help that all of our family is constantly feeding her pizza and crap and letting her sip on Dr Pepper. (OMG that pisses me off.) If I speak up the tend to get upset...I don't think she should be eating broccoli and stuff I eat, but it's like reel it in a little! When she's old enough to go walking with me I want to instill that in her. I want to be way more active with her than my parents were so that I can set healthier ways for her early on. But I would never bribe her like that! That must have been really awful. :(
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
Heck yes, we have a 4-generation history of eating disorders and everybody loves to talk about how fat people are (or they are) and what diet they're on. My mom must have gone on five diets a year while I was growing up.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
My parents tend to go the opposite with me. I had some disordered eating tendancies and at one point I was down to 85 lbs in college. My mom lectured me about it constantly. Until finally, I just couldn't fight with her any longer and started getting healthier. I'm now 92 lbs at 5'2" and I feel ok.
ashpie86 ashpie86 9 years
hmm.. I love my mom to death, and I know she loves me, but she tends to add something about my weight onto every compliment. "That dress will be so cute when you lose some weight!" etc. I don't think she even realizes she does it.
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 9 years
my mom always brings up how when she was my age she was 5'6" and 90 lbs and so skinny. (she's not anymore, of course. She needs to lose some weight). I'm 5'3 and 100 lbs or mom has always been in a competition with me I think.
krazykarot krazykarot 9 years
My mom was pretty harsh about weight asking "what's wrong" with me because she "was such a skinny minnie" at my age (I was 9, btw). After that it was always more along the lines of bribery, telling me if I lost weight she would buy me all new clothes. Too bad I was never into fashion until I was nearly finished with college, so obviously it was far more insulting than motivating. It really ruined our relationship, I hated her throughout my childhood, high school and right up until I moved after college. Now the distance and the fact that she's apologized for what she did are really helping us build a better relationship.
indieglam indieglam 9 years
Yes. In a sick way, my mom's snarky comments about my weight and her lamenting about how she used to be 90 pounds at 4'9" when she was 20, caused me to go in the opposite direction. Like "eff you, I'll eat what I want and as much as I want and I don't care what happens." It caused a lot of resentment that ultimately hurt me more than it hurt her because I gained the weight, never said anything, and let the hurt feelings and resentment build and get the best of me... it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Like my being overweight, having a stomach, and big fat thighs is going to severely wound her or something *shakes head* It's such a weird, twisted thought process... has anyone else had thoughts like that?
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
total opposite for me. My family thinks Im wasting money on my Gym Memebership. Ive never been overweight so they believe its a waste. They have no idea of the benefits of staying in shape, especially since diabetes is basically ruling my families lives.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 9 years
No, but my dad did tend to needle my brother about his weight..which I think in the end actually helped contribute to it...he has a far unhealthier eating style and is pretty heavy, or was the last time I saw him years ago.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
When I came back from college for the first time on fall break, I'd gained the freshman 15 and hadnt really realized it. When my mom saw my huge new ass in my now very tight jeans, she couldnt help but crack up about it. I dont think she intended to be mean or even influence me in any way, but needless to say it hurt my feelings and was a huge awakening for me! I curbed my college diet and took up running. I think it was better for me to find out that way than for her to sit me down and be like, listen honey, you're getting fat :P
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
When I was younger, I was a picky eater, so my parents always complained, saying I was too thin. So, as I started going into puberty and gaining a bit of weight (I was like 13, and 80lbs, so I wasn't a fatty), my aunt would tell me every day how much weight I was gaining. And she chose to say it in front of an audience. So, I stopped eating except the few times when my family ate dinner together. Like, on the weekends, I probably only ate a total of 100 calories. Then, I chose to gain weight my sophomore year in high school because I wanted to. I was chubby, not unhealthy/overweight, and at my height (below 5 feet), I still managed to stay at a size 4-ish (Which...might be kinda chunky, but whatever.). OMG, my parents were so harsh! My mom called me Godzilla, her boyfriend called me an ugly bitch, and my mom asked, "Can you just stop eating for a few weeks? Just until you lose that weight?" And my dad sort of hinted I had gained weight, but he never really got on my case about it. Just suggested I exercise and cut some of my calories, but he was also pretty blunt and straightforward about my being "unhealthy". Now, I'm at a lower weight, and my mom loves it (She used to call every week for years to make sure I was losing weight), and my dad just wants me to be healthy.
chocolatine chocolatine 9 years
Both my parents were very critical when I gained weight during puberty. It was a horrible time for me already, and they exacerbated it. It was completely counter-effective: they wouldn't let me have ANY sweets, so I would buy them with my allowance and binge in secret; they forced me to go out on bike rides ("don't come back for at least an hour!"), and it made me hate exercise. After I left home and had the freedom to live my own life, I started eating healthier, learned to enjoy sweets in moderation, and found an exercise method I love (pilates). My parents are now super-proud, but it rings hollow after all the humiliation they put me through in my teens. They think I got healthy because of them, but it was actually in spite of them.
herfallingstar herfallingstar 9 years
Hmm my parents, well my father actually, would make comments. He'd stop me from eating certain things. Or if I had some ice cream he'd be like "that'll make you fat". He'd say that I'm fat and need to lose weight, just not in so many words. I guess it contributed to my later eating disorder >.< My mum does it a bit nowadays. She's like "oh this and that will help you lose weight" etc
georgie2 georgie2 9 years
Family is hong kong - is all about thinness it seems. Perfectly hot actresses would be sponsored by diet companies to lose weight and then every appluads them when they get thin instead of saying, we can count her ribs, gross! Got the few chubby comment here in australia, but they took the joking about eating kangaroo meat to the next level. It was mean, they still think it's funny, I love going to hong kong to visit but i dont like meal times with them. My sister and I still feel a lot of anger when we think or talk about that. *deep breath* Too much pressure to be thin culturally.
Healthy Travel Guide For New York City
What to Eat to Lose Weight
Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe
Healthy Homemade Granola Recipe
From Our Partners
Latest Fitness
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds