Monday, May 14, 2012

Anti-Obesity Mothering

Surprise, I had another doctor's appointment today.  Since I've been home, I've seen four doctors in six days. Well, one of them was a dentist. Does that count?* One last appointment on Wednesday and then I think I'm done for the month.

Anyway, I was sitting in the waiting room today trying to snooze for five minutes because I was sleepy (damn neighbor's car alarm started going off at two in the morning) when this woman came in with her preteen-ish (eleven or twelve?) daughter and started reading aloud snippets from a Newsweek story on childhood obesity. The room was pretty bustling and noisy so I normally wouldn't have noticed, but of course words like calories and carbohydrates and fats caught my attention. After that, I couldn't not listen.

Anorexic Kaylee was hanging onto this woman's every word with the same sick fascination that comes from reading the diet plans in Self Magazine or watching Bowflex infomercials. No matter where I am in recovery, no matter how sick or how well, food/diet/weight stuff hooks me without fail. That's bad. I KNOW. Things to work on. The mom started telling her daughter that bagels are crap because they're "all carbs" and that "carbs turn to sugar" and "sugar turns to fat" and "that's why I don't let you eat bagels for snacks." And then that "all the heavy Americans" are costing the government "billions of dollars" and "that's a lot of money, right honey?"Sheesh.

I could tell pretty quickly that this woman was insecure. Just from the way she was talking, you know? Super self-righteous, preaching all these clean livin' mantras to her tween daughter, way too intent on upholding this holier-than-thou image of I-only-eat-organic-what's-wrong-with-the-rest-of-the-world? She was wearing lots of makeup, heels, too-tight jeans, straightened hair - basically like she spent a decent amount of time in front of the mirror before going out. She  also mentioned to the receptionist that she was there for laser hair removal (my doctor shares a waiting room with a dermatologist). So I know nothing about this woman, but I'm going to assume that she cares more than a little about her appearance.

Then she started yapping about how high fructose corn syrup makes you fat, but it's cheaper than sugar so companies put it in their foods and yada yada and even though I knew that she was most likely not a licensed dietician and I should just ignore her, I couldn't help listening. And the only person listening more intently than me was her daughter.

I know that moms don't cause eating disorders by talking about nutrition, but seriously, her kid was like twelve. Me at that age? I was an self-conscious wreck. I started having serious body image issues around eleven or twelve, and the ED kicked in about a year or two later. First major weight loss happened at thirteen, the summer between seventh and eighth grades. And that was with a mom who had never once told me I was anything other than absolutely beautiful and perfect. (I was lazy yesterday and didn't write a Mother's Day post, but I should have. My mom rocks.)

While the ED part of me was soaking up all the nutrition-talk, the rational part of me was like, "Good God, woman, cut it out." Sure it's good for kids to learn about healthy eating and all that, but A) this little girl was so far from fat it's not even funny and B) do you seriously not let her eat bagels because they have too many carbs? She's a kid. 

I started getting strange urges to do things like take the magazine from the mom and roll it up and smack her over the head with it, and then take the little girl outside and tell her please for the love of God, don't start watching your carbs, okay? Just eat the damn bagels and don't worry about it. Plenty of time for that when you're sixteen, eighteen, my age. If you want to obsess about your weight, don't worry - chances are, it'll happen at some point no matter what your mom does or doesn't say to you. Don't get sucked in yet, please.

Man, I feel old. When I was twelve, I was already pretty savvy about calories, weight, etc. - not the seasoned expert I am now, but well on my way - and now I realize how young I really was. This girl today looked like such a kid to me, and I wanted her to stay that way. Wow, I'm getting all motherly and over-protective in my old age.

* Okay, I was actually really curious and just went to check. From my understanding (thank you, Wikipedia), a dentist is NOT the same as a medical doctor (no med school, no MD). Instead, dentists go to dental school and get a degree called a DMD, or doctor of dental medicine. You're welcome for that fun fact of the day. I'm sure everyone was dyyyyying to know the educational trajectory of a dentist. PEACE.

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