"I love you, BUT if you were thinner then I would love you more & unconditionally"
How we look, and what we weigh is so tied up with the feeling of receiving love and acceptance from mother figures. This is a recurrent theme that I find in my work with so many women.
Where does this come from? Has this been something said out loud to them or a suggestion made?
I love you, but if you looked a certain way or if you were thinner then I would love you more and without condition.
It is in our emotional DNA and it can cause anxiety and a distorted relationship with food and body.
One of my clients we’ll call her “Annie”- not her real name( a 20-year-old) has for the last 12 years of her life been told by her very well intending mother that she was not thin enough. Yes, this all started at the age of 8 when her mom took her slightly chubby daughter off to the first weight loss specialist for injections and a restrictive diet plan. Fast forward to the current day, and this same beautiful soul has had enough of the restrictive and binge cycle she finds herself in. This merry-go-round of eating as little as possible, because thinness is associated with acceptance and love, triggers a ferocious binge, accompanied by the familiar feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing, and the promise to starve again tomorrow.
So we are working weekly to unravel the dieting mindset and food fears. She is brave and vulnerable and each step she takes is questioned carefully. Will this really work? Can I really eat these foods without guilt?
And on the back end of it all, her mother is still questioning if she has been “good” and if she is sticking to her “diet”.