I love you, Mom!
I love my Mom! My Momala is the most important person to me on this entire planet. I know that's hard to hear for everyone reading this who is not in fact my mother. Don't worry, you were a really close second.
My mother struggled with eating disorders early on in her life, and still struggles with her self-image. She was anorexic (like mother, like daughter), and as she once cheekily put it, "bulimic in a pinch." Aaaand here's the part where I realized that I did not talk to my mother before writing this and that she may not be super cool with me sharing her story on the internet. I guess this is where we find out whether or not she actually follows the blog.
When I first started this whole "Pointy Chin" adventure, my mom called me to express her pride (of course, it's her parental obligation), but also her sadness. She was extremely happy that I was writing about my experiences in an effort to build a healthy, body-positive community, but she also felt guilty for allowing the eating disorder to happen in the first place. She had called Aunt Beth, and they were talking about how their daughters' body image issues were entirely their fault. Of course they were wrong, but that's how they felt. They had spent their childhoods observing their mother, my Nanna. Nanna hated her body and wore the same handmade dress everyday because she was too embarrassed by her weight to buy new clothes. Let me clarify, that's not Nanna's fault! That's just the way it was. Let me further clarify, I've seen photos of Nanna during this time and she was (and is) a bombshell. Happy mothers day Momala, Auntie Boo and Nanna. I'm here to air out our dirty laundry, you're welcome.
It does bring up the nature vs. nurture aspects of eating disorders. Is this something that we are genetically pre-disposed to, or is it something that we learn? Do eating disorders run in families because of the way we're wired, or are our parents, unintentionally or not, teaching us these behaviors? I am a firm believer that it is both. If you're exposed to body-shaming, thinner is better, skinny is beauty culture as a young impressionable child then yes, you're going to absorb it. Hell, you're going to absorb it no matter what your age. If you hear your mother make a comment about how fat she looks whenever she sees her own reflection, you're going to absorb it. Eating disorders aren't just about being thin, though. Not at all. They're about being in control, they are an addiction, they are metal health disorders, and some brains are more vulnerable to that. It's both. It's either. It's all of it.
Please hear me clearly, by no means am I blaming my mother for my eating disorder. She was the one who took my anorexia the most seriously, who knew that it wasn't "just a phase" and did everything she could to get me the medical help I needed, even though we couldn't afford it. She saved my life.
The tremendously hopeful thing is that the body positivity movement did not exist when my mom was growing up, and now it does. It may be overshadowed by diet culture now, but it's gaining strength every day. My mom said that when she was growing up, she couldn't even imagine someone being okay with their body. Encouraging other people to be okay with theirs was unfathomable. Now we can more than fathom it, we're doing it. We're getting somewhere, people. We've got a ways to go, but we're getting there. If and when I have a child, I'm sure society will be pushing poisonous diet culture on them, but me and Momala sure as hell won't be. That kid is going to be confident.
I love you, Mom! You're perfect. Happy Mother's day.