I have a very vivid memory from my childhood that involves my mother, my sister, and I. We were in a dressing room and my mother was trying on clothes. Because my sister and I could not be trusted to be alone in the store we sat in the room with her.
As she tried on clothes she wanted my sister and I to recite, “You are thin, young, and beautiful.” I do believe this started as a joke, a joke that her Ego was playing on her and we were about to give the punchline. My mother saw some clothes that were left in the room by a pervious shopper and thought she would try them on. These clothes were not her size, they would not fit her, but she tried anyways. She was able to get about half of her body in and was beginning to have trouble. My sister being the kids that we were, looked at each other and said, “You are thin, young, and beautiful!” Our mother instantly kicked us out of the room and we were not welcomed back.
I am not sure how my mother handled herself after that moment, my sister and I were giggling as we left the room. I can imagine though that her Ego stepped in and reminded her of some of her worst fears at the time; worth = weight and in this moment she was not worthy.
This memory reminds me how much pressure my mother put on herself daily to look the “right”way. What was the “right” way? Hair done, full face of makeup including a smokey eye, clothes that hugged all the right curves, and a fake smile to pull it all together.
I remember watching my mother hate on herself, on her body and her mind for her looks and her thoughts. She didn’t realize it then, but I was watching, I was listening, and it wouldn’t be long before I too felt the pressure to be thin, young, and beautiful.
It was years before I could leave the house without any makeup, without being fully done up for the ‘just in case I might run into someone.’ I needed to be a certain size, a certain weight, have a certain look. I needed to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.
As the years go by I continue to hold onto some of those chains, though they are lighter now. I am currently in recovery from an eating disorder that I developed in middle school. I occasionally have thoughts around my weight, and I will confess, there is still a number that I do not want to obtain on the scale.
I share this as a reminder, to you and myself, that we are perfect the way we are, there is nothing wrong with us, and our weight has nothing to do with our worth!