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Friends and Family Everyone has disagreements, even best friends and family. If you need advice about a relationship, ask us here.

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My mum body shames me - August 9th 2018, 12:53 PM

I've always had issues with my body image since I was growing up. Long story short, my grandmother constantly body shamed me asking if I was pregnant every time I put on a few pounds, or asked if I was on a diet when I lost some weight. Her doing it for 7 years straight has naturally left it's mark. That said, going to university was a really good thing for me because I made use of the gym, I worked out a lot in my own room and I generally got more lean.

I actually came to enjoy weightlifting and it made me feel good and positive about myself. I started wearing more strappy tank tops, or trousers which stuck to my legs and lower body more... which was something I would never previously do because I could barely show my upper arms because I felt so fat.

The only area I still hate the most is my stomach. It's not like I'm big or anything. I'm quite average and thin. I just have a bit of extra fat around my stomach area which I can never get rid of.

The one thing I've enjoyed most about my time at university is weightlifting. I knew it had a weightlifting/powerlifting society but I felt too intimidated to even consider joining. Last night I finally did and my join request was accepted shortly after. I felt really good.

Today I decided to tell my mum. I was really enthusiastic about it. I told her how out of everything, weightlifting has been the one thing I've stuck at more than anything. I really enjoy it and the results I see are really positive. I don't care about how heavy I weigh because I know muscle weighs more than fat. I like looking back in the mirror and seeing all that progress I've made. But as soon as I mentioned the word 'power lifting' to my mother, the first thing she did was smile and laugh in a mocking and non-supportive way. After that, she started telling me about all the girls she sees in my town. She said, 'I see a lot of girls around here with big thick legs, big shoulder muscles, thick lean arms at the back and a thin body, it's not good for them.' I was tempted to ask her what exactly she meant, because the only way she could mean is that to her, they don't LOOK good, and so she disapproves. I instantly felt shot down and put off, because to her if my leg muscles bulked up, she thinks I don't look good.

My mum isn't thin. In fact she's certainly a lot bigger than me. The only time she's ever positive is when she thinks she's losing weight (which is never the case because she's always the exact same weight) and thinks her 'tummy is going down' (which is also never the case). Somehow she's under the illusion she's always losing weight when she isn't.

Since coming back home for summer it's likely I put on a few pounds due to lack of exercise and the diet change. My mum decides to pat my stomach and said jokingly, 'When's it due?' I looked at her and said nothing. But it was a reminder of my grandmother doing similar. Reminding me she thinks I'm fat. I don't care if she meant it as a joke. She knows how sore of a topic it is and she does it anyway. Body shaming is not funny and it never will be.

Part of me wonders if she's like this because underneath she's unhappy with her own body image and transfers her unhappiness onto me by shaming me instead.

I'd talk to her about this issue, but I have talked to her about my body issues so many times in the past. This isn't the first time she's shamed me in some way or shot me down. In the past she once asked me to come up with some story off the top of my head right there on the spot, and because I couldn't think of anything, she bluntly said, 'Well you wouldn't be good as a writer.'. I also like to do photography as a hobby, I really enjoy it because it's relaxing, yet because some of my images (like everyone's) are a little blurry due to progressive shots, she would pass remarks saying, 'You're getting there but you're not quite there yet.'. It doesn't matter what I do, or what I'm enthusiastic about, she always shoots me down.

In regards to my lifting, it's not like I'm going to stop what I'm doing. I won't allow her to stop me. In many ways I want to do it more now than ever just to spite her. I want to work hard and enter those competitions and win and smile and laugh back at her.


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Re: My mum body shames me - August 11th 2018, 02:13 PM

What your grandmother and your mom have said must be really difficult for you. I can't imagine getting to a place where you feel proud and good about yourself, only to be shot down by someone.

Usually people put others down when they are unhappy with themselves, so it may be true that your mother is unhappy with her body and is making herself feel better by putting you down. That really does not excuse her behavior, though; she shouldn't be talking to you that way. You mentioned she shoots you down with a lot of your interests so maybe her issues are a bit deep rooted.

I know it is hard especially when it is your mother. But, at the end of the day, what your mom thinks about you and your body doesn't matter. What matters most is how you feel and what you think about it. It is your body and you know what feels right to you.

It is good that you don't plan on stopping weight lifting because of what your mom said. You can definitely do it for yourself, and do it to spite her. You can show her what she's missing out on by shooting you down.


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Re: My mum body shames me - August 12th 2018, 01:16 AM

Thank you for your reply.

It is likely you're right, her issues are deep rooted. When she's put me down about me not being good as a writer, I feel that it's because of her own concerns as a writer. She's taking English classes now, back at the time she said it some time back, she wasn't, and said she wanted to write stories etc, but when she tried, the teachers on her writing course told her she had 'some' talent and she was instantly put off. Or when she tries to take pictures, they often come out rather blurry and then ends up getting me to take the pictures she wants anyway.

I think my mum will continue to pass comments about my body until she makes changes of her own... which I don't think will be any time soon. While I've been away at university for 2 years now, I offered her my bedroom so she could use it to do her painting, drawing and exercise. She had the opportunity to get fit and workout, but kept saying she 'didn't have the time' (which is not true as she's unemployed) so I think for her it's a matter of her not being ready to get in shape. I am wondering if it's due to our home environment, which also has an effect on me and is why I too prefer to work out away from home, because it's too cramped and unpleasant.


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Re: My mum body shames me - August 12th 2018, 02:19 PM

It seems like a lot of her comments are related to things she wants (but struggles to do) that you can do. Maybe she has difficulty with the idea that you can do things that she either can't or isn't ready to do.


Losing weight and working on your health is a big change and maybe she isn't ready or something about it makes her nervous. If it's your home environment, like you mentioned, it could be that she is too stressed to do it.

You might be able to come up with a mantra or an affirmation that you say to yourself when your mom makes a comment or you're feeling insecure about your body. That might serve as a good reminder.


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Re: My mum body shames me - August 12th 2018, 04:24 PM

I'm sorry your mom (and grandma) treat you this way and it's definitely not a productive way to handle perceptions of other peoples bodies. Even if, for example, there are loads of super jacked women around and that's not her personal taste, there's no reason for her to say that sort of thing to you, obviously.

Have you ever tried talking to your mom in a way that makes it clear that you understand that it sucks that she has her own issues with her weight but that you've had enough of her comments? It sounds like you've tried, but she always makes it about herself. Maybe you could just put oyur foot down and be like "mom, I don't care, I want to feel bad that you're struggling here, but making me feel bad at the same time isn't helpful or productive. For example, when I tell i want to do weight lifting, instead of saying how very muscular women are gross in your opinion, maybe try being happy that I have found a form of fitness that I enjoy and if I end up with huge muscles, be proud of me that I have worked so hard, instead of being negative" You can also outline what she can expect from you if she's being negative (e.g. maybe you'll just immediately be like "mom, you're being negative again, I don't want to have this conversation with you if you're going to be like that).

Or maybe you need to tell her that you guys cannot speak about food, exercise, or other things that seem to set her off if she's not willing to curtail the negative way of speaking about body image. You could start by telling her how she can be more positive and what you'll do if she says something hurtful (like i said, if it comes up, don't lash out, just tell her she's being negative and end the conversation) and that you'll give her a chance to improve but you'll have to end those conversations with her if she can't get by without making you feel bad too.

If you guys live in the same area, maybe you can offer to do stuff with her, like maybe you guys can go for walks or go hiking or other such things; don't make it about weight loss, but you can let her know that you have finally gotten to a place where you are happy with your body and it makes you sad to think that she's not happy so you'd like to do more active things with her because you know how she wants to lose weight and would like to support her (I mean, maybe you don't care, but you can frame it that way to make it sound good for her, not like a criticism). You can also ask her if she'd like to come to your house (or her house???) and cook dinner with you -- you can pick out healthy recipes but maybe don't make a thing out of how it is healthy, just, you know, pick out the zucchini lasagna from Chrissy Teigan's Cravings cookbook, get low fat cheese, and say you wanted to try it cause it looked fun, or pick out a minestrone soup with a tweak, or any number of other things that might help her think outside of the box and make healthier foods in a way that's fun.

I'm sorry she's like that though; it's hard to have someone that negative in your life because sooooo many things are tied back into our body image and our perception of health, like exercising or food or our clothes etc.
   
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Re: My mum body shames me - August 14th 2018, 11:58 AM

Just continue what you are doing and don't listen to her. Do whatever makes you happy and don't listen to negative comments.
   
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Re: My mum body shames me - August 16th 2018, 12:49 PM

Agree 100 %! Just do what you love and don't listen to her.
   
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Re: My mum body shames me - August 16th 2018, 03:53 PM

Thanks everyone for your encouraging responses!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Latte View Post
I'm sorry your mom (and grandma) treat you this way and it's definitely not a productive way to handle perceptions of other peoples bodies. Even if, for example, there are loads of super jacked women around and that's not her personal taste, there's no reason for her to say that sort of thing to you, obviously.

Have you ever tried talking to your mom in a way that makes it clear that you understand that it sucks that she has her own issues with her weight but that you've had enough of her comments? It sounds like you've tried, but she always makes it about herself. Maybe you could just put oyur foot down and be like "mom, I don't care, I want to feel bad that you're struggling here, but making me feel bad at the same time isn't helpful or productive. For example, when I tell i want to do weight lifting, instead of saying how very muscular women are gross in your opinion, maybe try being happy that I have found a form of fitness that I enjoy and if I end up with huge muscles, be proud of me that I have worked so hard, instead of being negative" You can also outline what she can expect from you if she's being negative (e.g. maybe you'll just immediately be like "mom, you're being negative again, I don't want to have this conversation with you if you're going to be like that).

Or maybe you need to tell her that you guys cannot speak about food, exercise, or other things that seem to set her off if she's not willing to curtail the negative way of speaking about body image. You could start by telling her how she can be more positive and what you'll do if she says something hurtful (like i said, if it comes up, don't lash out, just tell her she's being negative and end the conversation) and that you'll give her a chance to improve but you'll have to end those conversations with her if she can't get by without making you feel bad too.

If you guys live in the same area, maybe you can offer to do stuff with her, like maybe you guys can go for walks or go hiking or other such things; don't make it about weight loss, but you can let her know that you have finally gotten to a place where you are happy with your body and it makes you sad to think that she's not happy so you'd like to do more active things with her because you know how she wants to lose weight and would like to support her (I mean, maybe you don't care, but you can frame it that way to make it sound good for her, not like a criticism). You can also ask her if she'd like to come to your house (or her house???) and cook dinner with you -- you can pick out healthy recipes but maybe don't make a thing out of how it is healthy, just, you know, pick out the zucchini lasagna from Chrissy Teigan's Cravings cookbook, get low fat cheese, and say you wanted to try it cause it looked fun, or pick out a minestrone soup with a tweak, or any number of other things that might help her think outside of the box and make healthier foods in a way that's fun.

I'm sorry she's like that though; it's hard to have someone that negative in your life because sooooo many things are tied back into our body image and our perception of health, like exercising or food or our clothes etc.
Sometimes I wonder if she talks about how muscular women don't look good because she thinks I'm going to want to become some super power house bodybuilder and she doesn't want me to look like that. It's not as though I even bodybuild, I just work out to tone my body and lose unwanted fat whenever possible.

During university times she does come to visit. I even pay for her train fare. We spend our time walking around enjoying the scenery or going some place to eat or have hot chocolate when the weather gets colder. Even then she can't stop complaining about something. Whenever she's away from home there's a good chance she'll bring up my brother or my uncle in a negative way. My uncle bought another car when we can't afford to, how she doesn't think my brother is even trying to look for another job (since he quit the other after 1 1/2 days in) and so on; but realistically she's the one who spends most of her time at home. So perhaps this is her biggest issue and things tend to aggravate and build up for her as staying in the house for too long will send anyone mad, but it seems that I'm the one she vents to in more ways than one.

I've tried to talk to her, or bring up issues that I have. When expressing my issues it's like I'm talking to a child. She copy cats my actions and movements, making a mock of the seriousness of the matter and in the end I just give up and walk away because it's too frustrating.


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Re: My mum body shames me - August 17th 2018, 03:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivière View Post
Thanks everyone for your encouraging responses!



Sometimes I wonder if she talks about how muscular women don't look good because she thinks I'm going to want to become some super power house bodybuilder and she doesn't want me to look like that. It's not as though I even bodybuild, I just work out to tone my body and lose unwanted fat whenever possible.

During university times she does come to visit. I even pay for her train fare. We spend our time walking around enjoying the scenery or going some place to eat or have hot chocolate when the weather gets colder. Even then she can't stop complaining about something. Whenever she's away from home there's a good chance she'll bring up my brother or my uncle in a negative way. My uncle bought another car when we can't afford to, how she doesn't think my brother is even trying to look for another job (since he quit the other after 1 1/2 days in) and so on; but realistically she's the one who spends most of her time at home. So perhaps this is her biggest issue and things tend to aggravate and build up for her as staying in the house for too long will send anyone mad, but it seems that I'm the one she vents to in more ways than one.

I've tried to talk to her, or bring up issues that I have. When expressing my issues it's like I'm talking to a child. She copy cats my actions and movements, making a mock of the seriousness of the matter and in the end I just give up and walk away because it's too frustrating.
I think there is still a misconception that weight lifting turns women into massively muscular people, which is completely wrong. It's actually super unhealthy for women to have less than 15% body fat (might be 12%) and most women don't have the body composition to have gigantic muscles in any way like what men can achieve unless they really, really work for it so the perception is just plain wrong. Even if you did want to be a body builder, so what? It's your dang body, it's totally your choice how you handle it if there is no negative impact to you (e.g. if you haven't lost so much body fat in the result that you no longer have your period and such).

I wonder if perhaps your mom struggles with depression or something. She certainly doesn't sound as though she's a very happy person. Have you ever considered talking to a therapist who might be able to help you establish appropriate boundaries with your mom? For example, if your mom is being negative, you could simply say "mom, I'm sorry, but I don't want to talk about this topic, can we please speak about something more positive" and if she persists just say "no, mom, we're changing the topic or this conversation is over" and walk away if that still doesn't work. You can't really control her actions, but you can make it clear when you've had enough of a particular topic. If she refuses to have a respectful conversation with you, you still respectfully set boundaries with statements such as "mom, I don't feel like you're being very respectful of me right now, so we're just going to set this conversation aside for now and I am going to step away until you're ready to be more respectful of me. We still need to speak about this, but I'd rather wait until later and hopefully next time I'll be able to feel like I am being respected" and, again, walk away, don't contionue pursuing a conversation after you've told her what you need and she isn't respecting that.

When those sorts of conversations happen, you can go to her later and say somethng like "mom, I just want to follow up on that earlier conversation. I didn't like how when I tried to talk to you about this issue and you starting copying my movements. It made me feel disrespected and uncomfortable. I understand maybe the conversation was upsetting for you, but in the future, can you please hear me out and respond in a way that doesn't make me feel lik I am being mocked".

If you're constantly setting boundaries, I hope it'll help. Ultimately, you can't control her but you can control your responses and if you persistently set boundaries it might help
   
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Re: My mum body shames me - August 20th 2018, 12:30 PM

I have seen some counsellors in the past and discussed some of the issues I have with my mum with them. One pointed out that it seems like she 'has no identity' given all that has happened in the past, which I agree with. She does suffer depression and I do spend a lot of time trying to make sure she's ok and to help cheer her up by taking her places and paying for the train fare so she doesn't have to worry about money. Others have even suggested she go see a counsellor and she just refuses because she feels she doesn't need one.

I think I've just reached a point where I'm too exhausted to try and push her to do anything new. While I'm away for university I leave my room for her so she can workout, paint/draw and so on. She does do some painting/drawing but she ended up creating boundaries as to why she wasn't able to exercise. The floor's too hard, there isn't enough space. If it was that bad I would pay for her to go to the gym, but she probably wouldn't. Either that or she'd let me go, tell me she's going when she actually isn't. She's done that sort of thing before with a few other things I've bought/given to her.

While I have set boundaries with her on quite a few things, she only seems to understand that she's done wrong when I've ended up in tears because I can't cope with it anymore. There have also been times where I've had to redirect the conversation to an original subject because she goes off on tangents at the sound of a key word that triggers her to start talking about other things that are often more negative. E.g The mention of my aunt will have her go off down memory lane about how horrible my aunt was to her and so on. There have been times when I get so frustrated with some of the conversations that she refuses to accept redirection that I just end up saying I'm going and walk off because there's no point.

I think she could benefit from having a good friend to talk to, but she does't really have any because she's so distrusting of others and is constantly suspicious of others' motives whenever they approach/complement her. I also think she would certainly benefit from having counselling of some sort, but she will never consider even trying because in her mind it's a waste of time.

For the time being the only thing I can do is wait until university starts again and enjoy being away from her. Though I will still email her and occasionally skype with her, I won't have nearly as much contact.


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