I’m glancing through a study (The Stigma of Obesity: A Review and Update) (PDF) that Kate tweeted about this morning. It’s pretty dense in a “lot of good information” way and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back to it later when I can really focus. I skim through sections on employment, health care, education, and interpersonal relationships.
This grabs me by the eyeballs:
In a recent study, overweight and obese women (N = 2,449) were surveyed about the most common interpersonal sources of weight stigma in their lives (9). Participants were provided with a list of 22 different individuals and asked how often each individual had stigmatized them because of their weight. Family members were the most frequent source of weight stigma, reported by 72% of participants.
…and I’m thinking, well, duh. Our culture makes it plain that Good Parents[tm] don’t raise Fat Kids, because Fat Kids are Officially Bad and Unhealthy and Incorrect. So parents who want to be Good Parents will feel compelled to Do Something About The Fat Kid.
…and I also feel a bit of relief that it’s not just me that got shit from my parents for being fat.
…and I think, from out of nowhere, “Well, no wonder I didn’t have a close relationship with my parents as an adult. I’ve distanced myself from everyone else who gives me shit for being fat, why wouldn’t I distance myself from my family too?”
…and then I begin to wonder whether anyone who grew up fat has a good relationship with their parents. In my case, it was partly my mom’s own fat shame and her guilt for “passing it on” that was some of the problem. But also, my parents were hurt when I declared in my late twenties that I didn’t want to discuss my weight. My efforts to create boundaries* wounded the relationship too. In a different family, where boundaries were more common, this might not have been so bad—but in my family it was regarded somewhere between eccentric and secession.
*The biggest “boundary” fight was about my weight, but other boundary fights included “Call before you come over so I can be there and ready for company” and “Just because Mom said I’d be at Aunt D’s on Saturday doesn’t mean I’ll actually be there, especially when Mom doesn’t deign to tell me until Friday night.” *headdesk*