When Parents Encourage Eating Disorders


There's a fine line between your parents wanting the best for you and being so over-bearing about it that it pushes you to the point of self-inflicting abuse. A mom wanting her daughter to have the happy life that, sadly according to society, being "thin and beautiful" will get you, may motivate her to have a healthy lifestyle, but it could also unintentionally lead to a full-fledged eating disorder.

Point in case, a bride-to-be recently posted a letter on Tumblr that she received from her parents, which included money to purchase scales to weigh herself once a week to "insure our wedding dress investment."

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Not kidding. These folks are clearly competing to win the Parents of the Year Award:

Dear Katie,

You are beautiful now. We believe you will be a beautiful bride. To help insure our wedding dress investment, please buy some scales of your choosing with this money and weigh yourself once a week. We love you and want you to enjoy your wedding day. This present may help with some of the stress.

With love,

Mom & Dad

Thanks, Mom (you know it was likely the mom writing it). Maybe she should buy some ipecac syrup to help induce vomiting while she's at it? Did I mention that Katie was a huge 115 pounds when this was written?

No parent would intentionally applaud their child for having an eating disorder, but their constant encouragement to lose weight, whether the daughter should do so to be healthy or not, can have a severely unhealthy effect, whether they are 14 or 40. In one survey, 39% of mothers and 42% of fathers did some level of encouraging their daughter to lose weight, even though the body mass index ratings of the daughters indicated that most of them fell within or below the healthy weight range. And sadly, approximately half of the parents whose daughters engaged in extreme weight loss behavior are completely oblivious to it -- ogling about how great they look as the pounds shed off.

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I know tons of women who are above average as far as weight goes, but they're healthier than most people I know, myself included. They eat right and exercise, and to tell them that they should do anything different would have a negative effect on their health. The mother of a friend of mine, who was a size 16 and extremely active, kept probing my friend about losing weight. Thank god she let it go in one ear and out the other, as most people would take it to heart (which would absolutely be the norm, as it's coming from your mom!) and potentially spiral into unhealthy eating practices.

Depending on your relationship with your parents, what they say can have a bigger impact on your lifestyle choices than even what society is telling you, which is why it's so scary to think about parents making these comments to their kids in passing, not realizing the dangerous effects that their words could have.

So what's a gal, who's already probably internally battling self-image issues, to do? Look the mirror honey ... you're beautiful. And, contrary to popular belief, parents do not always know best.

Have you ever had to deal with parents giving your grief about your weight? How did you handle it?

Image via Tumblr

Written by Brittny Drye for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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