When Parents Encourage Eating Disorders


letterThere's a fine line between your parents wanting the best for you and being so over-bearing about it that it pushes you to the point of self-inflicting abuse. A mom wanting her daughter to have the happy life that, sadly according to society, being "thin and beautiful" will get you, may motivate her to have a healthy lifestyle, but it could also unintentionally lead to a full-fledged eating disorder.

Point in case, a bride-to-be recently posted a letter on Tumblr that she received from her parents, which included money to purchase scales to weigh herself once a week to "insure our wedding dress investment."

Not kidding. These folks are clearly competing to win the Parents of the Year Award:

Dear Katie,

You are beautiful now. We believe you will be a beautiful bride. To help insure our wedding dress investment, please buy some scales of your choosing with this money and weigh yourself once a week. We love you and want you to enjoy your wedding day. This present may help with some of the stress.

With love,

Mom & Dad

Thanks, Mom (you know it was likely the mom writing it). Maybe she should buy some ipecac syrup to help induce vomiting while she's at it? Did I mention that Katie was a huge 115 pounds when this was written?

No parent would intentionally applaud their child for having an eating disorder, but their constant encouragement to lose weight, whether the daughter should do so to be healthy or not, can have a severely unhealthy effect, whether they are 14 or 40. In one survey, 39% of mothers and 42% of fathers did some level of encouraging their daughter to lose weight, even though the body mass index ratings of the daughters indicated that most of them fell within or below the healthy weight range. And sadly, approximately half of the parents whose daughters engaged in extreme weight loss behavior are completely oblivious to it -- ogling about how great they look as the pounds shed off.

I know tons of women who are above average as far as weight goes, but they're healthier than most people I know, myself included. They eat right and exercise, and to tell them that they should do anything different would have a negative effect on their health. The mother of a friend of mine, who was a size 16 and extremely active, kept probing my friend about losing weight. Thank god she let it go in one ear and out the other, as most people would take it to heart (which would absolutely be the norm, as it's coming from your mom!) and potentially spiral into unhealthy eating practices.

Depending on your relationship with your parents, what they say can have a bigger impact on your lifestyle choices than even what society is telling you, which is why it's so scary to think about parents making these comments to their kids in passing, not realizing the dangerous effects that their words could have.

So what's a gal, who's already probably internally battling self-image issues, to do? Look the mirror honey ... you're beautiful. And, contrary to popular belief, parents do not always know best.

Have you ever had to deal with parents giving your grief about your weight? How did you handle it?


Image via Tumblr

body image, self esteem, weight loss


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MomIWant MomIWant

I can't imagine INVITING my mom to my wedding after that note! 

ArmyW... ArmyWifeAshlie

I was anorexic. My mother has always been very thin, when she got pregnant with me she weighed 110 at 5'9. She delivered at 130. Within 3 months of my birth (by csection) she was down to 110- or lower.

My grandmother played a huge part in raising me and is morbidly obese. I'm talking 300 lbs at least. She always told me I was fat. Always.

When I was 17 I weighed 95 lbs. I am short so it fit for my height, but not my body type. I could wear childrens clothing.

Now I've had a child, and didn't quite lose all the weight, before I got pregnant again. I had a lot of issues after my csection. I HATE my body, and I force myself to eat every single day.

My mom and grandmother still encourage me to lose weight.

nonmember avatar Anon

I remember once my dad said I was getting "broad across the beam," which was unwelcome, but that's about it. I do pay attention to my kids' physical growth, though. My youngest was chubby and I've worked on her via good diet and exercise for a few years. Now she is at a perfectly healthy weight and has good health habits for her age. Some aunties mention their own "big bellies" and sometimes tell my kid that she'll get a "big belly" if she eats a lot (while encouraging my naturally slim kid to eat more). So body image is definitely something to watch as my kids get older. I personally have a pretty healthy lifestyle and body, so hopefully my kids will pick up on that.

nonmember avatar Allboys

I come from a long line of obese relatives. I am naturally thin and try as I have in the past I don't put on weight. I have long since decided to own the fact that I look great and enjoy eating healthy even though that gets me accused of being anorexic. Anyway when I went back home for my sister wedding my entire family was relentless in their mocking me. They would take pictures every time I ate ANYTHING. Which being a normal healthy eater was quite frequently. By the end of my three day trip I gave up and let them all believe what they wanted to believe. It's sad that most of them are obese and their health is suffering. My only two family member who are actually anorexic don't catch any flack because they binge and purge for family functions.

Peajewel Peajewel

My Mom would never do anything like that.  She is the kind of Mom that says you look beautiful even if you weigh 250 pounds and have on a garbage bag.  I would be so sad if my Mom were like this.

frysh... fryshannon34

Wow how awful that poor girl.I have never heard anything like that from my parents

tazdvl tazdvl

When I was 15 I  had a cousin that something about me getting a belly. I wasn't over weight, just needed a little firming up. that sent me into my eating problems.

Addys... Addys_Mom

My dad constantly tells my sister that she needs to lose weight. while she is overweight, my dad is a jerk about it. he said the same thing to me when i was heavier so i know how much it hurts to hear that from your dad. poor girl :(

nonmember avatar Michelle

I'm 18, and my mother has always tried to force me into the weight she deems appropriate for me. Which is 120 minus some when I'm almost 5'8". Needless to say, I've struggled with binging and purging and not eating for days my entire life. What could possibly drive a parent to encourage their child to be an unhealthy weight?


Wow. that is unreal! Thankfully, no, my parents have never made any stupid comments or rude notes or anything else like that. 

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