Growing up, I had a mom who loved me with food. When we were happy we would celebrate with food, when we were sad we would comfort ourselves with food, when it was Christmas she would bake cookies. I was never fat as a kid, I ran around like a banshee and climbed the tallest trees. I never understood how to diet because dieting was never something that was discussed in my house. When I was older I started dancing and decided the best way to lose weight was by existing on Saltine crackers and Diet Coke. When I was older than that, I decided the best way to lose weight was not to lose weight and to totally not give a fuck anymore. I’m not saying that my method now is good or healthy or right, but it’s where I am at present. I wonder if I had been taught how to deal with my weight like Charlotte Alter‘s mother taught her if my years and years of starvation and weight gain and weight loss and disordered eating and binging and vomiting wouldn’t have defined me for the majority of my life.
When she was 12, Charlotte writes on Time.com that:
“I don’t want you to freak out,” my mother told me one morning when I was 12, “but I think you may have put on a little bit of weight.”
“It’s only 3 or 4 pounds, and it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “It happens to everyone. I’ll help you figure it out.”
Her mom’s solution was that she cut out desserts for two weeks and run a few laps around the park every night. Charlotte claims that this gave her the tools she needed to deal with gaining a few pounds here and there throughout her life, and that it’s vastly different than the advice of Leslie Sim of the Mayo Clinic who told USA Today that she recommends “zero talk about dieting, zero talk about weight.”
Her mom felt that Charlotte was sad about her weight gain, and gave her practical solutions to deal with it. I see nothing wrong with that, and it may be a better solution than how I have always addressed weight issues with my own kids, by telling them they are perfect no matter what. The same things my own mother told me no matter what I weighed.
One day my nine-year-old daughter asked me if she had “fat thighs.” She doesn’t, she skews on the underweight side as far as her growth percentile chart at the pediatrician’s office is concerned. She isn’t alarmingly underweight, but she takes after her father who has the metabolism of a hummingbird and has always been skinny. It upset me that she was worried about this already at such a young age, but I know it isn’t uncommon.