Un­der one roof

The prop­erty guardians

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front | Contents -

Your visit was go­ing well. We were sit­ting around the din­ner ta­ble, you, me and my hus­band, our two teenage girls. You had prob­a­bly had a glass of wine or two.

Then I re­alised what you were say­ing. “Oh I never ate school lunch. I al­ways saved the money to spend on God knows what and never ate any­thing. Win-win!”

I’m not sure why I didn’t say any­thing then. I was too shocked, per­haps, that you could say some­thing so ir­re­spon­si­ble to my daugh­ters. The older one replied: “I al­ways have lunch. I eat loads and loads and I’m al­ways skinny.” The younger one was quiet.

I find my­self livid that you could boast like this, ap­par­ently with­out a thought for the im­pact it might have. You have bat­tled with an eat­ing dis­or­der all your life. I have watched you per­form your rit­ual sug­ary overindul­gence many times, and the te­dious self-re­crim­i­na­tion that fol­lows. You ap­pear to have wrecked your di­ges­tive health. Were you se­ri­ously ad­vo­cat­ing my daugh­ters do the same?

You are not a bad woman, far from it. You love your grand­daugh­ters and I ap­pre­ci­ate that you do. But you are some­times a thought­less woman, a woman who lets her own nar­cis­sism over­take con­sid­er­a­tion for other peo­ple. To brag of starv­ing your­self in front of teenage girls, it beg­gars be­lief.

It is par­tic­u­larly as­tound­ing to me, given my own en­counter with anorexia as a teenager. I have man­aged not to drag this ill­ness into my adult life. I have, with some ef­fort, man­aged not to in­flict its prob­lems on my chil­dren. I con­sider my­self lucky to be alive. Did you learn noth­ing from those years?

I want to ask you to think more care­fully about what you say to my chil­dren. But I know that this would re­sult in teary de­fen­sive­ness at best, a hos­tile breach at worst. I ac­cept you will not change.

In­stead I am go­ing to trust my daugh­ters. They do not as­sume that skinny is best. Their he­roes are cur­va­ceous women, but more im­por­tantly, women with tal­ent and pres­ence. I trust that they dis­missed your words for what they were: the sad, out­dated van­ity of a woman strug­gling with the cage she im­pris­oned her­self in long ago. My girls are not in this cage. I trust that they value what they can do with their bod­ies, not what size jeans they can squeeze them­selves into. A bet­ter fu­ture is theirs

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.