Mother load

Friday - - Welcome to Friday -

Like many women, I’ve been on a diet for most of my life. Even though I was a skinny child with hip bones that jut­ted out and long gan­gly legs, I’d al­ready learnt from my mother that it was a ‘bad thing’ to be fat. She didn’t eat any­thing but slices of ap­ples or tiny cubes of cheese, and for months our house smelt of boiled cab­bage as she made it into soup – the lat­est fat-loss fad at the time. As I grew into a teenager and de­vel­oped puppy fat, I was hor­ri­fied, and ate smaller and smaller por­tions un­til I was skip­ping meals en­tirely. It wasn’t un­usual – my friends were the same and we’d com­pete about how lit­tle we ate per day. I be­came so painfully thin that my mother begged me to eat, and when I did, I piled on the weight. I’ve been over­weight ever since, for­ever bat­tling to get my mucked-up meta­bolic rate un­der con­trol.

I thought I’d kept this hid­den from my chil­dren un­til my five-year-old daugh­ter an­nounced she wanted to go on a diet in case she de­vel­oped ‘a fat tummy like Mummy’. She’s very thin, tall for her age and pretty, and yet she al­ready has body im­age anx­i­ety, trans­mit­ted, ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts, by me.

But I’m not alone. In our fea­ture on page 16 on the mod­ern epi­demic, jour­nal­ist Kate Birch re­ports that most moth­ers are to blame for their daugh­ter’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion with their bod­ies. It’s a scary legacy to pass on, so I for one will be prac­tis­ing the tips on how to com­bat body im­age anx­i­ety on page 22. Let me know what you think of our spe­cial body is­sue. Un­til next week,

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