I’ve been trying to imagine what goes through my mom’s head regarding body image. I know that she has been wildly uncomfortable with her body and herself. I know that she was hospitalized in either high school or college for anorexia (though I mistrust my old memories so much now… who told me that? Did I overhear it in a hushed conversation she was having? Did my grandparents say something? I have no idea.. it’s just a “fact” that I know). I know that when I was in high school, she suddenly and dramatically started disappearing. She was probably 100 pounds, maybe less, when we took our first–and last–family vacation in 1996.
Every time my mother eats in front of me, she says the same thing at the end of the meal: “Oh! I ate too much. I’m totally stuffed!” EVERY. TIME. I have never responded, and I never will.
My mother tries to comfort with food. It has a distorted, ugly effect of making me instead feel ashamed and guilty and horrible and unlovable. I have invented excuses to ask her not to bake so freaking many treats when I come to visit–I have claimed veganism, dieting, illness. She will not listen. I walk into her home, and her antique buffet, which she inherited from my great-grandmother, is garishly heaped with triggers. Brownies with chocolate frosting, 7-layer dessert bars, cereal treats, Muddy Buddies, S’mores bars.
I suspect she must be very depressed about her aging body. She is petite, but getting soft; there is more of her now. Her wrinkles have graduated to deep crevices. Her body is not able to move as often and as fast as it used to–I mean, she still walks faster than anyone I know and routinely puts in 12-hour days on her feet executing large events, so please don’t think of her as some genteel old lady.
But, she must know that her thinnest, most beautiful days are behind her. I feel little flashes of the same as I approach 40, and it is scary–depressing, suffocating, horrifying.