Disordered Eating: a past, a future, and a compendium of resources

This post is sponsored by Chase – a strong supporter of the National Eating Disorders Association

 

Two weeks ago Chase offered me the opportunity to write about healthy eating and body image in children. It was an opportunity I accepted gladly. I planned and researched and leaned back in my chair, hands behind head. It’s my thinking position.

I sat there, playing with my ponytail, and realized I would have to discuss my own eating and body image history if I wanted to effectively communicate how important this subject is to me, how much it has impacted my life and informs the decisions I have made feeding my children. I became agitated.

I went to the library and checked out twelve books. I came home and avoided them. I opened the first one two days later and started to sweat. I put it down, picked it up. I struggled to read more than a few pages at time. I rubbed my eyes hard enough to see colors behind my lids.

I discovered that my boys are good eaters despite their mother, that what I thought was right was wrong, or at least not great. I decided I am not equipped to write this post. I told my husband that the last two weeks have been hell, that I don’t know what I’m doing, that looking at old pictures and remembering old memories has been stressful and painful. I didn’t want to publish this post.

He said that is probably why I must.

We’ll see.

I was born on November 30, 1972, a petite 6 lbs. 15oz. We moved to the states six months later. I had my father’s curly hair and large eyes, my mother’s full cheeks and pointy chin. I spoke Spanish, then English. I liked dolls.

At age four my tonsils started to swell. I choked on my food and eventually stopped eating out of fear. There is a picture of me at the beach where I am wearing a red bikini, holding a bucket and smiling wide. I’m brown like the shell of a coconut because I lived outside and in the 7os no one used sunscreen. You can count my ribs, all of them. I looked emaciated and frail; strangers thought I was ill. In the first grade I had my tonsils removed to improve my health and weight. The doctors warned my parents to monitor me as far as food went because I would make up for lost time.

I wore dusty rose to my First Reconciliation in the 4th grade. I felt beautiful. I fingered the satin ribbons but was disappointed my skirt didn’t flair when I turned. The pediatrician that year said I was far too overweight, a victim of my tonsillectomy and poor willpower. I heard that and felt fat for the first time. She had ridged nails that ended in points. I noticed that as she wrote out a diet for me. She wore unflattering polyester shifts in loud florals and rested her clipboard on the second roll of fat below her breasts. I noticed that, too. I was 9. It was 1982.

Telling a mother to put an normal-sized 9 year old on a diet is a fabulous idea. It really produces results, too. Maybe not the results you hoped for, but I promise a change in weight is forthcoming! My mom was upset this dress was tight. She felt like a failure, and I did, too. For many, many years I hated this picture. 1983.

I’m on the far right. I can’t explain what is happening with the top of my head. I could be wearing a hat, I could be experimenting with Aqua Net. I can explain the unfortunate hand position. I spotted the camera and was trying to pull down my shorts to hide my legs, which I hated for being big. Now I know they were strong and muscular, all the better to kick in teeth. That’s what I should have done to the boy who called me an ugly, fat whale around the time of this picture. I found him on Facebook. Not impressed. 1986.

There is no greater injustice than to form your body image at the same age you dress for the trends and not for your figure. Then again, I’m not sure anyone looked svelte wearing high-waisted, acid wash z. cavaricci jean shorts. Too many classmates called me fat/chubby/thick/insert-pejorative-here in a way that was supposed to be funny, but wasn’t. 1987, maybe 1988.

I really wanted to be on the homecoming court my senior year in high school, which boggles the mind since I was so shy and introverted I could count my friends on one hand. I was also hoping to make it into the yearbook for something like “Most Attractive” or “Best Dressed” or “Nicest Girl.” They didn’t have “nicest girl,” but if they did I might have won. I think. Who knows. I went on my second diet to increase my odds on any of the above, but it wasn’t enough. I was at tennis practice when I overheard two team members talking about me. They said it was a shame the guys only voted for skinny girls with good bodies because I had such a pretty face. I was a size 8. 1989.

Shortly after that, I started drinking a Big Gulp of diet coke as my lunch. After school I played competitive tennis, sometimes for two hours a day. I got down to a size 2-4, but still wore an 8, sometimes a 10, because the larger sizes hid my arms and legs. I started getting attention from boys. I hated it. I hated that 20 pounds was all that stood between approval and disdain. That didn’t stop me from dating them, of course. My taste in boys was as questionable as my diet. 1990.

I was back to a 6-8 at my brother’s high school graduation. I worried the entire time about my weight. Some studies show that people who are people pleasing, excessively goal-oriented, obsessive, and/or perfectionists are more likely to suffer from eating disorders or disordered eating. You don’t say. 1993.

By my 23rd birthday, I was up to a size 9/10. I still wore large shirts and jackets–a blazer, here–because I thought it better hid my thighs. The same thighs I would love to have now. 1995.

Not long after that, I met my husband. He’s a rail. Always has been. We met at T.G.I. Fridays; he was a bartender. I went back a few days later with a friend to get her opinion, but before she could see him I nearly collided with him on the way back from the restroom. He was rude. I went back to the table and told my friend it would never work out. I could never date a guy with thighs thinner than mine. It worked out. 1997.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t hide behind purses and museum programs every time we took a picture. I’m not a fan of having my picture taken. It’s why you see so few of them my blog, and they are almost exclusively of my face. 1998.

I gained twenty pounds in one month due to a medical condition. I was devastated. 1999.

I could go on with more pictures, but they become increasingly painful for me to see. I gained more weight, and then more. The white knuckle hold I had on restricting my food slipped. And, like the girl without tonsils, I made up for lost time. Then I restricted, then I didn’t. Then I did.

Up, down. Up, down. Up, barely down. Over time, your body gives up on you.

When I laid out all the pictures last week, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to move to a remote island or hide under the covers. It seemed preposterous that someone with such a warped body image and history of disordered eating should write about healthy eating. I’m not an expert, I’m a cautionary tale.

But I’m also a mother, and a smart one at that. People ask me how I got Mikey to read so much and so well, and I always tell them it’s because I model the behavior. He sees me read and believes it to be fun. I think Nicholas will be the same.

If modelling can teach a love of reading, it can also teach a fear of food. I’m not going to let that happen on my watch.

I’ve tried a few things over the last couple of years to help me learn to approach food as a necessity rather than an enemy. Some have worked, some haven’t. Nothing has worked long term, mainly because I haven’t been consistent. I’ve talked to other women and men in a similar position, and they say it gets easier to find time to handle your issues when your children are in school. I’m counting on that.

In the meantime, there are a few things my research suggests I’m doing right. Turns out, in my own crack-pot way, I’ve been establishing some healthy eating patterns in the boys.

  1. I make one meal. What we eat, they eat. There is no short-order cooking to appease multiple tastes. They can eat from what is available at the table, or they do not eat. The choice is theirs.
  2. We have a family dinner every night it’s humanly possible. It’s almost always possible.
  3. We eat healthy foods, and we eat not so healthy foods. I try not to create labels on food, but it’s hard. I’m working on that one.
  4. We don’t force them to clean their plates. When they are done, they are done. The decision is theirs. They don’t get anything else, though, and we remind them of that before they leave the table.
  5. We eat a wide variety of food, and I let them help me in the kitchen. The helping takes a back seat during the school year but during school vacations or on the weekend I let them make us breakfast, season our food, etc.

I’ve also learned a few new tricks from Ellyn Satter. Since starting her approach–particularly in regards to scheduled snack times for myself and the boys–I’ve seen both boys graze much less. Also, I’ve stopped worrying about Mikey being too skinny and Nicholas’s sweet tooth. They’re fine.

They’re more than fine.

 

Organizations

Books on Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Food in Children

Books for Parents of Children with Eating Disorders or Disordered Eating

Books on Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Food in Adults

If you believe in a behavioral model

If you believe in an addictive model

Comments
141 Responses to “Disordered Eating: a past, a future, and a compendium of resources”
  1. Jules, this was a great, honest post. It’s going to be a hit. No doubt.

    On a slightly different note (now that you’ve shared photos from your childhood) – oh.my.gosh. It’s like your brother and Mikey are the SAME KID!! I cannot get over how much Mikey looks like your brother in photo #4. Crazy! :-)

    • Jules says:

      Oh, I don’t know. I kind of hope no one sees it. I like my hit posts to be about something safer, like organizing shoe drawers. :) Mikey looks exactly like my dad, and so does my brother. The only difference is that Mikey has light hair and light eyes.

      • Kimber says:

        You are beautiful, inside and out. What a glorious smile you have, despite all your worries! I can’t relate to the eating issues personally, but I can relate to not enjoying my own jiggly bits. Thank you for a well-written, brave and honest post about an issue that is so deeply personal to you.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Thank you for this post. I am impressed by your honesty and bravery.

  3. Amy says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and echo Charlotte in thanking you for such a brave post. Love it! Although, as I scrolled through the photos all I could think was how gorgeous you are. And I know, after a post like this, a comments such as that tends to fall flat–but it’s true.

    Also, I especially appreciate the fact that you ended on a positive note–what you’re doing right. And the things you are doing right are very balanced and grounded, which, to me, is key. I’ve noticed a trend among my friends–they’ve been watching documentaries on the horrors of processed foods, they’re juicing, ridding themselves of sugar, meat, and dairy. These things, in and of themselves are not bad, mind you–they’re quite good, actually. But it’s the propellant to such changes that concerns me, it’s propelled by mindset of terror. My friends are frantic; they’re also beating themselves up over what they’ve fed their kids in the past, etc.

    • Jules says:

      There’s my “love it”! :D

      I always try to end on a positive note. It’s easy for me when it comes to everyone else, not so much for myself. Objectively, I can see that when Mikey was in line for the buffet (by himself, I was talking to moms) he put on his plate chicken, potatoes, corn, and a big serving of spinach salad and know that I am doing something right. One of the moms came up to me and commented that she was impressed he would choose that on his own. I make A LOT of spinach salads (I love salads) so I think that’s where that came from.

    • Bridget says:

      I pretty much second everything you said, Amy.

  4. Ris says:

    Jules, thank you for this honest post. I imagine it must have been hard to write. The thing that jumps out from those images above, more than anything, is that you have a really beautiful smile. I’m sure everyone would like to see more of it, when you’re ready to post more pictures.

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. Being told I had a beautiful smile was often attached with “it’s a shame you’re so chubby.” So for a long time I assumed that’s what people meant, secretly, when they said that. I’m older now, I’ve read a lot of books and done a lot of thinking, so I know that sometimes a compliment is just a compliment. Also, I DO have a nice smile. ;)

      • Ris says:

        Heh, as someone who had braces (twice!) and extensive jaw surgery, I really do notice and appreciate when people have a nice smile. It’s a genuine compliment, at least coming from me!

  5. This is an awesome post!! Sometimes, the most difficult things to talk about are the same things that most need to be shared.

    And I second the above comment (and I said it on Twitter, too!)- you don’t look like you’ve aged since the 80’s. Gorgeous!!

    We all make some good choices and some not so good choices, and when there is anything medically related tossed in there, it’s just that much harder. I don’t know what else I can say that won’t sound trite and “RAH-RAH!!!”, but I think you’re doing the best you can, and you have some really great habits already established, which is half the battle.

  6. heather says:

    Great post Jules. I had a lump in my throat the entire time I read it. I was born in 1970, and our timeline is very similar. I too thought I was fat in middle/high school. Looking at those photos now I’m sad for her. She was gorgeous and healthy. My problem was hitting puberty very early…well before my girlfriends. I started wearing a bra at 9 and got my period at 11. I shot up tall very quickly. Looking at pictures from 6th grade…not only am I the tallest child in class…I’m taller than the teacher. I’m only 5’8″. I was tall, had boobs, hips, a Jlo booty (before it was cool) and a tiny waist. Boys popped my bra. Girls my age looked like boys. It’s a confusing time and often unfair…being teased about my weight at a young age is devastating. My body type is different than my mother’s…so when I started wearing larger sizes than her…the diets began. Wait…let me back up…the diet began at infancy. I was 10 pounds, 5.5 oz. at birth. My pediatrician told my mom I was too big and that she should start feeding me skim milk. She didn’t.

    I’ve struggled with my weight for 41 years and I’m sure it will continue. I’m considered morbidly obese. But I have a pretty face. And I “carry it well”. uh-huh. I don’t have children, but I’d be a hyper-concerned parent about eating and body image. I think you have it right about family meals. Less eating out…more cooking at home…more eating as a family and positive body image.

    If I could go back and have a conversation with the 13 year old me…I tell her to put down the Seventeen Magazine and go ride your bike. I fear for girls today…the images and pressure are even more severe than they were in the 80s. They are growing up sooner and sooner and having more and more problems.

    Sorry for the long reply…I could write a book (maybe I should!). Great post…great ideas. I know it was hard to write…but it’s powerful. Thank you for sharing.

    • stef says:

      Sounds like we could start a club of girls who “carry it well” and “have a pretty face” ;)

      • Jules says:

        I’m petite, so I don’t carry it well at all. Had we been at school together, Heather, I would have been jealous of you. Hah! Oh, the irony. There is no greater weapon than the mind of a 13 year old girl.

  7. FishMama says:

    Thank you. I really appreciate this post in many, many ways.

  8. stef says:

    I’m still trying to process everything you wrote here, mostly because I feel like we share pieces of a similar story.

    I’m immensely scared of someday raising an overweight child, both because I know the pain of being called “fat” by your peers and the exhaustion that comes with constantly thinking about food, depriving food, overindulging in food, analyzing food. I “know” more about good nutrition than most, but I clearly don’t have a handle on it or I wouldn’t be overweight. I don’t know how to struggle with it and raise kids that aren’t scared of food like I am. On the other end of the spectrum is my own rail thin guy who doesn’t understand the “big deal” with food, since he can eat it non-stop and is still underweight.

    I’m thrilled that you’ve been able to raise your boys with healthy attitudes towards eating. And thank you for the resources and your story.

    • Jules says:

      Your William Morris post about the sourdough bread really struck me when I read it a week or two. I read about your thin partner and how hard it is for you to balance your needs and his and could see myself in that post. I know everything there is to know about nutrition, it seems, and yet I clearly don’t apply my knowledge. And, despite everything I have read, I still can’t decide if I subscribe to the behavioral or addictive model of compulsive eating. We just have to keep on keeping on, one day at a time.

  9. Toi says:

    When I was 12 I had an adult tell me that if I ever get fat that no one will like me. I weighed 80 lbs. The person said that the only reason people really liked me is because I was little and had a cute name. It’s 23 years later and I hear that person’s voice in my head every single time I put a piece of food in my mouth.

    When I was in my early 20s I worked at a doctor’s office. There was a nurse there that thought it was really funny to watch me eat and then tell me how fat I was going to get by eating whatever I happen to be eating. I barely tipped the scales at 100 lbs. It’s 12 years later and I still hear her heckling me and laughing at me and telling me I’m going to get fat every single time I put a piece of food in my mouth.

    You want to screw with someone or get the ultimate revenge on someone? Plant a seed like that in their head. It will never go away. I am thin, but I battle food demons every day. I swear to God if anyone puts thoughts like that into my children’s heads they will regret the day they were born. I refuse to have my children have those kinds of thoughts inbedded somewhere in their brains. Good for you for being a postive role model for your boys when it comes to this. And good for you for sharing this story. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who understands what disordered eating is. It’s nice to be reminded sometimes that I’m the only one fighting these demons. Thank you.

    • Jules says:

      I’m so glad you commented, Toi, because this isn’t an issue limited to overweight women. I know plenty of thin, seemingly “perfect” women who struggle just as much as I do. Someone who is thin can have the same issues with body image food as someone who is overweight, and can worry just as much as I do about raising a healthy eater. Demons are indiscriminate and equal opportunity torturers.

  10. HopefulLeigh says:

    Jules, you may not have felt qualified to write this post but I believe your honesty will help many. And look how you realized all the things you’re doing “right”! We have such complicated relationships with our bodies for a variety of reasons. Thank God each day we have a chance to start fresh and move toward a healthier view of ourselves. Grace and peace to you, friend.

  11. vginiafille says:

    I look back at my high school and college photos with the same 20/20 hindsight, and it fills me with grief and regret. As always, your writing is what makes the story resonate.

  12. Gail says:

    Wow Jules. What a powerful post. Kudos to you for writing it. You’re a gorgeous woman with beautiful kiddos. I always admire those who speak up about body issues as I think all of us should be more real about ourselves and that’s just one facet of the equation (be it physical health, emotional health, mental health). Don’t delete this post; I’m sure it’ll go down as one of your most commented upon posts ever.

  13. Melissa says:

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for addressing this issue with honesty and for doing it so well. I can’t tell you what an impact your words and your modeling have not only on your children, but on your readers.

  14. Susan G says:

    Jules – I can’t add to what has already been said here, but I just want to say – yes, all of that above! Thank you for your honesty and courage. My food issues are the opposite. I was always small – I’m only 5’1 and weighed 95 when I graduated from high school. I managed to stay small through the first pregnancy and got back to a size 4. The second time I was 39, gained half again what I started out with, and have never lost most of it. That was almost 15 years ago, and I realized the other day daughter #2 has only known me as fat. I get panicky writing that even and can’t believe I let all that time go by and will it be impossible to lose at least some of the weight and why did I let myself be fat all these years and…and…, well, you know.

    So, please leave this post here I am determined now to take at least one small step a day to get better about this and set a better example for my daughters (who are small like I was) so they perhaps won’t have these issues later. It’s like – so much bad stuff has happened to me it’s not “fair” that I should have to lose weight too and so I don’t do it.

    Thank you.

  15. Erin K. says:

    Don’t delete the post! lol
    I have a question for you regarding your rules for mealtimes–despite not making special meals for each set of tastebuds, did your boys ever go through a period of refusing to eat/being extremely picky even though they knew they weren’t going to get anything else for dinner? We have a 14-month-old and though I’ve NEVER catered to his tastes, he will frequently flat-out refuse to eat what is offered to him. I don’t offer him anything else. He doesn’t snack during the day. Anyway, in my own neurotic is-my-child-going-to-starve pool of worry, I would love to hear that my efforts will eventually pay off with healthy habits. Any insight or anecdote you can share on this topic would be much appreciated!

  16. Joy_UK says:

    Jules,

    Thank you so much for posting this! I beg you not to delete it.

    I’ve also always struggled with my weight and body image. Also grew up tormented by nicknames and comments made by family members. Like all the other ladies have said, it never goes away! I totally understand the “one day at a time” thing and how much pressure we put on ourselves to be “thin”, “pretty” etc etc etc I just wanna feel comfortable in my own skin one day! hehe

    You are such a great mum and your boys are lucky to have you because you ARE emulating good models for them.
    You needn’t fear because you are more than “qualified” to talk about these issues because life has taught you a lot along the way.

    I really admire you.

    ah and I think you are one of the most beautiful women ever. Honest!

    Take care

    Joy_UK x

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, Joy. I try, and that’s about as much as most of us can do. I’m not a perfect mom by any stretch of the imagination, so don’t think that!

      • Joy_UK says:

        Oh I know there isn’t really such thing as “perfection” but as far as good mums go, you’re up there with the champions! hehe

        This post has made me think so much about my childhood, adolescence and now as a woman, trying to let go of the past and moving forward in a healthy way. Thank you so so much for sharing this with us!

  17. Zak says:

    Don’t you dare delete this post. You are so beautiful and kids can be so freaking mean. Your boys are lucky to have you as their mother.

  18. Andrea Howe says:

    What an amazing post. I had tears well up in my eyes when we got to the picture of you and the Mister. Here’s what I wonder…do kids ever develop eating disorders just on their own? Say their parents overall do the right thing as far as modeling food intake and doing all the “right things”, do some kids still on their own go astray and wind up with eating disorders? I ask because as a mother I of course want to do all I can to foster healthy eating habits, but it also seems that whenever a child has some sort of disorder, there has been something during the childhood that triggered that. A crazy mother, a stupid pediatrician with an insensitive tongue, etc…

    • Andrea, I think there is a lot that isn’t completely understood about eating disorders and it’s definitely possible for kids to develop them even when the parents do a great job.

      My parents were great. Never talked about weight at all, they ate really healthfully but also showed an appreciation for treats (we didn’t have dessert regularly, but when we did it was seriously enjoyed and felt special with no guilt), both were really active and it was clear that they were active because they loved their time outside. We learned to cook early and were involved in family meals. We didn’t even have a TV, so we weren’t exposed to very much advertising.

      I became really obsessive about eating and exercise in HS and my sister developed an eating disorder when she hit puberty. I have no idea why or what happened to us. I do know that my grandma has always been obsessive about dieting (didn’t know that when I was a kid, but my mom shared it with me later) and I have to assume there’s some sort of genetic tendency that gets passed down and can flare up if the environment is right. Which I guess would be school and other people, in our case. My brother doesn’t have any issues.

      I think all you can do as a parent is model the best habits you can and then deal with any issues that come up as compassionately as possible (and get everyone in therapy if issues start popping up!). You have a huge influence but you can’t prevent bad things from happening to kids.

      • Jules says:

        I’ve been out all day, but Rachel pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I agree with what she said about predispositions that come alive under the right environment. They say the same thing about diabetes, cancer, heart disease…I don’t see why this wouldn’t be different.

      • Bridget says:

        I don’t think food disorders are necessarily always about food, per se. Sometimes it’s more about issues like control or perfection. For whatever reason, some people deal with it through food/body image.

        • Jules says:

          This is true. Have you heard of the Good Girl mentality? “Good girls” don’t drink to excess, don’t do drugs, don’t do anything illicit or immoral…and so they turn to food, the last socially accepted drug, to act out their issues with control, acceptance, et al.

  19. Yay you!

    You have taken the first step on a very long road. I am so glad you have identified those voices which you had internalised and given them back to their owners. Now, you can now choose whether to hear their messages or not–as children, I don’t think we even know we have a choice.

    There’s a lot more to say and see and think on this journey–I wonder if you will have a pony tail left? I hope you’ll take us with you.

    Hugs.

    • Jules says:

      I’ll probably be bald as a grape! ;) I’m always hesitant to blog about weight, health, eating, etc. It’s such a personal topic (meaning what works for one may not for someone else), and I don’t want to offend anyone or come across as a know it all. Maybe I’ll do an update every now and then.

  20. Susan says:

    First, you are so beautiful, it’s heartbreaking to hear you write with such angst over body image. Second, please keep the post up please becasue I bet many of us readers have/had the same struggles, and we’re happy to celebrate and join you in the move towards positive food/body image. Lastly, I sometimes read the “Dinner Together” website which introduced me to Ellyn Slater’s ideas. Love her philosophy that as parents, we control what our children eat, but our children control whether they eat, and how much. That was a liberating moment for me. I try to put healthy, well balanced meals on the table, but after we sit down and say grace, the wee-one at the table decides whether she’ll eat and how much…we can only do so much, right?

  21. Jennifer says:

    You tell an important story. It is my story too. I remember being put on a diet at age 10 by my pediatrician and the subsequent unseasoned baked scrod put on my plate nearly every night for months. I am 41 and I worry about my weight and food more than I worry about my kids, husband, work and school put together. I don’t want my kids to feel the same way. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jules says:

      Yes and yes. This is me.

      Sadly, my pediatrician was morbidly obese and, in her mind, doing what was right for me. But I was clearly not overweight. Thick, maybe solid. Not overweight. I was active, always outside and riding bikes. That all changed.

  22. Ms. Amy says:

    Is there any woman out there who doesn’t have food/ weight/ body image issues? The best we can do is try not to repeat the horrors that were inflicted – knowingly or not- upon our own psyches. I have an 8-year-old daughter who is healthy, active, and beautiful (and underweight), yet she will occasionally mention her “fat stomach” or “big legs”. I have NEVER talked about dieting or weight or exercise in terms other than being healthy and having balance, yet those thoughts still appear. All we can do is fight the good fight. This is a post that NEEDS to remain up. Thank you for writing it.

    • Jules says:

      There are, but they are very few. At last count, about 19% of the female population is free from food/weight/body image issues. It’s very, very sad.

      It makes me sad to hear your underweight daughter thinks that (even occasionally) about herself. Where must these kids be picking it up? At school or media, I suppose. I remember in the 8th grade there were a group of girls who would purge in the bathroom. The ringleader taught them all how to do it. She was beautiful, too.

  23. I can only imagine that this is one of those “take a deep breath and hit publish” posts. Thanks for leaving it up. Fight the temptation to delete it! There are women who need to read this, and know they are not alone.

    Thank you.

    • Jules says:

      It was a deep breath, hit publish, and don’t sleep post. I went to bed at 2am and was up before 6am, my stomach in knots. Thanks…and you’re welcome. :)

  24. Sarah says:

    DO NOT DELETE THIS POST. Whatever you do.

  25. Anna says:

    You are strong and brave and lovely. Thank you for this post. It took real integrity and I admire you for it!

  26. Annie says:

    Don’t delete this post! The blog world needs more honest, frank, genuine content on the internet, and I’m so glad you chose to open up on such an important topic. I have no doubt it was hard, even painful to post, but I’m begging you to keep it up; we need it.

    Your words remind me so much of the series C.Jane has been doing on her blog the past couple of weeks. Not sure if you’ve been reading along, but she had a couple of particularly poignant posts you might want to check out: http://www.cjanekendrick.com/2012/04/life-story-early-history-of-my-body.html and http://www.cjanekendrick.com/2012/04/life-story-early-history-of-my-body-ii.html.

    I’ve never struggled in so many of the ways you and C.Jane mention. I have small parents, so I’m a small person, and for most of my life, I was blissfully unaware of many body issues. I’m not sure why or how that happened, but I’m grateful.

    Now I’m 26, and while I still don’t struggle with weight issues, I am struggling — and not well — with a serious case of the worst acne I’ve ever had. And all of a sudden, now I feel like I understand. I don’t want my picture taken; I don’t want to look in the mirror. I panic all day about what I must look like and how ridiculous it must be to see a 20-something with a face like an angsty teenager. All of a sudden, I am reading posts like yours and like C.Jane’s, and I get it.

    Body and image issues come in all shapes, all sizes, and I am so grateful there are writers like you putting it all into words, reminding us that extremes aren’t the answer. There’s a fine line between becoming healthy and becoming paranoid, even fanatical (I think one of your commenters mentioned something similarly above), and I’m trying to remember that about my face, too. Sure, I need to eat less fast food, drink less sodas. Maybe I need to exercise more and stress less. But I’m also doing a darn good job as it is. And sometimes, your hormones and your body do weird things that are out of your control anyway. But this, too, shall pass. And in the meantime, I’ll find comfort in the struggles of those who’ve experienced similar pain and frustration.

    Thanks, Jules.

    • Jules says:

      I don’t read C. Jane, so I had no idea about the posts. I will go read them, thanks!

      My best friend had acne issues. It was a horrible experience for her in high school, and she freely admits that she was left traumatized from the ordeal. We were a pair–the chubby girl and her best friend with acne.

      • Jules says:

        Whew. Okay, I just read them. When I read your comment about how you were reminded of C. Jane’s post I was a little nervous, but when I clicked on the link and saw the baby picture at the top my heart dropped! Just my luck that she would do a post about the history of her weight and include childhood pictures! Everyone is going to think I copied her! Nooo!!!!!

        But then I read the posts and realized they are similar, but different. I have more embarrassing pictures, for one. O_o Anyway, no one is going to think I copied or stole or plagiarized. At least I hope not!

        Interesting to see that C. Jane was only a pound or two above average, if that, and was considered fat. That’s me in the 4th grade. I’m wearing collar to ankle velvet, so it’s hard to tell in that tiny picture, but I was an average sized child. I think everyone at that point was accustomed to the small, emaciated Julieta. The thicker, healthier 2.0 version was unsettling, I suppose.

  27. Kathy says:

    Oh Sweet Jules.

    Honesty is what people are attracted to…and you being so brave and honest is why people are here. Also, because people feel a connection to things that they feel like they also have dealt with. This many views is because people love you and your words. So please don’t delete it!

    Growing up, I was super tall and super skinny. In high school I was almost 6 foot and weighed about 100 pounds. I also had horribly frizzy hair and terrible teeth and patchy skin. I didn’t know how to do makeup. And I ate. All the time. Constantly was eating and it was never good food. Then after I went to college, I stopped dancing 6 days a week. And still ate what I was use to. Needless to say, I gained weight….but it was okay. I accepted it.

    The problem is….now with my 3 year old, I know we need to start thinking healthier. Especially with her daddy being sick. I’m hoping to sit down to do meals together now that my schedule has stabilized and I’ll actually be home for dinner every night. Especially since she will just snack all day.

    Reading that Ellyn Satter link made a huge difference in my mind! I need to get from the mindset of OMG SHE’S FINALLY HUNGRY MUST GIVE HER FOOD to helping her only eat at meal time, including snack time.

    So thank you. Thank you for this post and the links to help. They’ve made a huge GOOD impact! <3

    • Jules says:

      I’m horrible about meal times with Nicholas. With Mikey I was solid. Nico, not so much. He was underweight and I babied him a bit, I have to admit. Also, I wasn’t as organized with him. Simple as that. I changed all that a couple of weeks ago, and things have been good.

      p.s. You are to be commended for working 3-4 jobs and taking care of a young daughter and husband. Standing ovation.

      • Kathy says:

        Wonderful…I’m glad it worked for you with the organization…I’m hoping it’ll work with us.

        And thank you, darling. I get embarrassed when people say anything about it…because I’m doing what needs to be done. But I’m so much happier now than I was working just one job. Life is crazy. <3

  28. Shari says:

    Thanks for this Jules. I’ll be reading some of these resources. I won’t get into my issues with food. I mask them well, but as a mother, I raised a daughter and a son. I always encouraged healthy eating and getting outside to play. I supported they’re sports. I never talked about being fat, or dieting like I heard my mother do. We ate together almost every night. We eat adventurously and always made it a fun time. We encouraged the same from our kids so they could travel and be intrigued, not disgusted. And yet, we can’t keep them from seeing and hearing from friends how they should look. My daughter is a 2nd year college student with bulimia. Luckily she’s in treatment. I thought I did well. Apparently it didn’t matter.

    • Jules says:

      I’m so sorry, Shari. :( Your daughter is so beautiful, too. I wish I knew who to blame for all this. 81% of women have issues. How is that possible? Why? How do we inoculate our children from this monster? It would make me feel better if I could say THIS pediatrician or THAT show or THIS magazine. Then I could protect my kids mama bear style and everything would be safe and perfect. But it’s not. And it sucks.

  29. Elle says:

    Just echoing what a lot of others have said — this is a really great post. Like you, I have two sons and no daughters, and when it comes to body image issues, part of me is a little relieved that I have boys. (Not that men don’t struggle with these things sometimes too, but I think on the whole I think it’s worse for women.)

    Regarding the behavioral vs. the addictive model, what about the metabolic model? Reading Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat” really changed my thinking about the foods I crave and what’s “good for me.” It freed me from the belief — which is pervasive in our society — that overeating and fat are all about what’s going on in our heads. Highly recommend it.

    • Jules says:

      You have no idea how happy I am to have boys! Of course, men suffer from disordered eating, too, but the idea of mothering a daughter had me very, very nervous.

      I had no idea there is a metabolic model! I will go check out Taubes and his book. Thank you for the recommendation.

  30. Julie S. says:

    Jules, what a great and honest post. I remember being called thunder thighs as a teenage girl. Looking back at those photos I’d *kill* to look like that now.
    We, as women, are so programmed to believe that if we don’t eat we’ll lose weight. I did that for years and years – and it completely screwed up my metabolism. I’m now on a fitness & weight loss journey with the help of a personal trainer. I have put my complete faith in him and am slowly learning that if I EAT and exercise I’ll lose weight. Some days, I don’t believe him. Some days feeling full = feeling fat. Feeling full should = feeling nourished and energized. I can’t say right now that I believe it 110%; but I’m getting there because I have proof. Right now I eat – I eat a lot. And I workout with my trainer. But I eat good clean food – and I’m losing weight and gaining muscle. And confidence.
    xo
    Julie

    • Jules says:

      Good for you, Julie! Last year I had a nutritionist write out a meal plan for me. It was one week long, and I lost almost 5 pounds. She doubled my calories, made me eat snacks (one, that was all I could do), and gave me a huge variety of food. I need to learn that it’s okay to take care of myself.

  31. What an AMAZING post. What struck me most strongly is how GORGEOUS you are, and have been, AT EVERY AGE. Truly, you are stunning.

    I used to be very very thin in high school, which was helped by not eating very much! And you know what I did? I covered my body up with flour sack dresses that 5 people could fit in. WHY???? Because I was embarrassed and ashamed of it. WHY??

    Also. BIG HUGS. For everything you’ve gone through. And hurray you for modeling healthy eating for your kids — I live in fear of my tiny tiny daughter getting the idea from anyone/anywhere that her body isn’t perfect just the way it is — I am prepare to tell her that we eat healthy nutritious food to make strong healthy bodies, which come in many sizes, all of them beautiful in their own special way.

    Thanks for the links, I can’t wait to read and bookmark every one.

  32. Kelly says:

    What a wonderful post. I know you feel very vulnerable with it out there. But believe me, most woman (all?) have issues with their body/weight/looks. I keep stressing this to my husband, that we have a job to do to raise girls with self-esteem and to not hate their bodies. I don’t know how to do it though. I was not overweight as a child but still had very restricted eating as a teenager. I don’t know where this is going. But thanks for writing this, and your honesty.

  33. Mary Beth says:

    it’s a small miracle that I’ve come across this when I did. You sound like me…just like me.

    thanks

  34. Kelly says:

    Jules, so brave and wonderful! I have some truly terrible photos of myself as a child, esp. around 2nd through 5th grade, when I was quite chubby…and my mother had no clue on how to deal with my very thick, very curly hair, so she cut it all very short. People thought I was a boy. I can’t imagine having the guts to put them out there into the blogging universe.

    There’s an article in the current Vogue, written by a NYC mom who put her eight-year-old daughter on a strict diet. It all ends “happily” enough, and daughter and mom are photographed in designer clothes, but there’s a nagging feeling that’s still bugging me. I’m worried about that young girl.

    • Jules says:

      My mom did that to me in the 5th grade, too. By 8th grade, most of my hair grew back. I think that feeling of looking like a chubby boy is what has prompted me to keep my hair long. The shortest it has ever been is just below the chin, and that was freshman year in high school.

      I read that article, and it upset me terribly. A 7 year old on a diet against her will…it brought back all sorts of memories.

  35. Erin (@mrs_danderfluff) says:

    My chest got progressively tighter as I read this post. As a fellow perfectionist who also struggles significantly with body image, I know how hard it must be to have this post up for the world to see. Your bravery is both staggering and inspiring.

    My own issues have really ramped up in the last few years as I lose the final vestiges of my teens/twenties metabolism. I know intellectually that it’s not realistic to expect myself to look like I did when I was twenty; that it’s no big deal to go up a size or two in a ten year span as long as I know that I’ve been eating in a reasonable manner (which I generally have). It’s just what happens.

    This intellectual knowledge, however, is often not enough to silence that evil voice in the center of my brain that shouts “FAILURE!” every time I pass by a mirror or see a woman in public who is thinner than me.

    In my case, it’s less of a struggle with food itself and more so with understanding that my value lies in who I am as a person, not what my body looks like. But it is a struggle nonetheless- a painful, exhausting one- and it helps to know that I’m not in it alone.

    So thank you for being brave enough to share your story. I hope the responses here have given you strength in the same way your honesty has strengthened others.

  36. I used to blame my mom for my poor relationship with my body, but I’m seeing clearer now (in my old age, ha) that it wasn’t her fault as much as it was external forces like classmates. There was also the “finish everything on your plate” mentality at school, believe it or not. I remember that we couldn’t leave the lunchroom and play on the playground until we ate everything on our trays. This led to a lot of hiding things in milk cartons, as I recall. Still? I worry that schools and peers (moreso than parents) are pushing a lot of the bad messages that make us feel conflicted about our weight.

    • Jules says:

      Everyone in my class was very, very thin. I felt so overweight and ugly. I didn’t realize that I had a woman’s body early, and that I wasn’t dressing to flatter my figure.

  37. Karen F says:

    Jules, thank you for sharing your story (so brave of you) – I feel like I could have written it myself. I think about what I used to worry about, and I realize I would love to be that size now! It’s crazy. I have 2 daughters. My older one (who’s 5) has excellent eating habits (even though I don’t always eat right myself, I know the principles and was able to impart them to her). My youngest (who’s 2) won’t touch a vegetable with a stick. I’ve decided I need to model healthier eating and it will help all of us (I hope). I guess we all have our battles. Hang in there, and know you’re not alone!

    • Jules says:

      It’s the time wasted worrying about nothing. That’s what kills me. Good luck with your youngest, and let me know if you uncover any good tips!

  38. Lisa says:

    Don’t delete it. It took a lot of courage to post this. And clearly a lot of commenters feel the same way.

    Ditto…same story here. Now I’d kill to have the size 8, taunted as a “fat freaking pig” body I had in high school. For two years in college I ate a packet of oatmeal for breakfast, a Pepsi for lunch, 3 fig newtons for a snack, and a ramen for dinner, and I walked nearly 8 miles a day. My college boyfriend said “now that you’ve finally lost weight, we should work on firming up all that flab” as he jiggled my thighs. I’ve yo-yoed for years, and I’m still overweight.

    I worry so much about passing this mentality on to my kids.

  39. Jules, I love the pictures (you are so beautiful at all stages – even in acid wash!) and the story. I can completely understand the drive that goes behind perfectionist people pleasers and weight. I’m not overweight now but I do gain weight relatively easily. When I first discovered this (in high school) I was devastated and went on an obsessive quest to lose weight. I suppose it isn’t at all surprising that it coincided with a time when we were having major family upheaval. At least I could control everything weight related! I labeled everything in our fridge that had high fat content, I exercised all the time and I did lose the weight I’d gained but I was terrified of gaining it back. Eating at college was scary (I brought my own non-fat cheese to the dining hall and made sandwiches for a long time until I was able to start relaxing and eating more normally). Even now that I’ve relaxed, mostly because my actual life got more important than my weight, I still get stressed out by this issue.

    I’ve never had an eating disorder (I know what that looks and feels like and I wouldn’t minimize it by claiming I’ve had anything close to that experience), but I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had disordered eating tendencies. I’m working on those, by trying to find a way of eating that fits into my life better, but I wonder if what I need to do is try to figure myself out better instead.

    Thank you for your post, Jules. I know how incredibly difficult it must have been to write, but I so admire you for it.

    • Jules says:

      Yes, exactly: “I wonder if what I need to do is try to figure myself out better instead.

      This is what I am working on right now, and it is so stinking hard. Monitoring calories is easier. Much easier.

      Thank you for you support. xoxo :)

  40. Lindsey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t particularly remember having issues with food growing up; both my parents are thin, so I’ve always had genetics on my side, I suppose. It wasn’t until I was in college and my (already thin) mother began to do several of those fad diets (South Beach, Flat Belly, etc) that I began to be concerned that I wasn’t thin enough or that I would get fat and my parents wouldn’t respect me as much.

    Now that I have a toddler, I am concerned with getting her to develop good habits. To that end, I appreciate the Ellyn Satter link. I don’t know why food and eating seems so much more complicated than it was 20 or 30 years ago, but it does. I hope I’ll able to model good habits for her and not make a big deal about eating too much or too little and cross my fingers that everything else will fall into place.

    • Jules says:

      I can’t believe the destruction that dieting can cause. But I’m so confused! What are we supposed to do? Not lose weight? Eat with abandon? This is all so stressful for me, and many people, I’m sure.

  41. I’m so glad you posted this. It’s really amazing of you to share so much about a deeply sensitive topic. I am overweight, think about it constantly, and work on it sometimes. I refuse to let my four kids see or hear any of my weight neurosis. I was actually quite proud that the three of them who have gone through kindergarten screening couldn’t identify the opposite pair “fat/thin.” They will not inherit my issues. Bless you for being so brave and thank you for the wonderful links.

    • Jules says:

      I think about my weight a million times a day. The reason why I don’t do many recipe posts is because I’m afraid I will eat the food. What I need to do is learn that no food is off limit, and to take the shame away from eating. Maybe then I wouldn’t filled with anxiety when there is a cookie in the house.

      • Bridget says:

        I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I think what you said here is key. Some foods are more nutritious, and we would do well to eat more of that kind of food on a regular basis. But it should taste good! (And yes, sometimes that’s an acquired taste which may not happen overnight, but that’s okay. Gradual is good, especially if it produces lasting change in our taste preferences).

        The stuff that’s not so nutritious can also be enjoyed — in moderation. Quantity and frequency in moderation, that is. The enjoyment should be extreme. If you’re going to eat ice cream and cake, relish every delicious mouthful — without guilt. Food is meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.

        • Jules says:

          Yes, this exactly. That’s why in Thursday’s post you will see a box of Choco Tacos in my freezer. I’ve wanted to try those for decades, but didn’t. I finally went out and bought some and they weren’t that great! I had one, and that’s it. I think had I a diet mentality, I would have eaten the whole box over a few days just because it was a “treat” that I might never get to experience again.

  42. eadaoin says:

    you look beautiful in all your photos, and you really have a truly stunning face. interestingly i have always wished for curves and dark exotic coloring like yours. i suppose we all need to learn to love ourselves and our uniqueness a bit more. beautiful writing, and blog.

  43. Katherine says:

    Another great post. Fantastic! Just this morning, I finished reading Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, and so I have been thinking about food, body image, and the clothing industry all day. It’s amazing how desperate each of us can become in our quest to better ourselves, eating patterns being a prevalent topic indeed. I’ve been teased by friends and family about how much research I do on parenting, trying to do the very best I can with my challenging, spirited little boy. And I wonder, Jules, do you ever receive criticism from anyone for having so many books around that “inform” you on how to raise a family?

    • Jules says:

      Not to much, because I don’t have too many books on parenting. A few, more than most, but in all honesty a few of them I haven’t read! I need to do that. There are some great books on raising sons that I own that I need to, you know, crack open and read. Most people in my life know me to be incredibly bookish, so they don’t think anything of it, I suppose. :)

  44. michelle says:

    wow, wow and wow! thnx so much for all that, I needed every word of it! you are so inspiring, in many ways. thnx again.

  45. Gretchen says:

    Jules: Thank you for talking about a topic that touches so many of us. As a 35-year old woman, I continue to struggle with food issues that have been strongly a result of my mother and her own struggles. She continues to speak of and deal with food on a negative level and I am determined to keep my children free of those anchors of guilt that weighed (and continue to weigh) me down. I am so inspired by your list of how you keep your boys sheltered from those influences. Thank you.

  46. Tiffany says:

    What a great post and as usual very thoughtful, honest, and impeccably written. Weight has never been my struggle, but I’ve got other issues, as you know, that have made me insecure.

    I really enjoyed seeing the childhood pics. I always thought your HS picture was amazing, and that picture of your birthday is one of my faves. You are so photogenic, but you really do look that beautiful in real life also…lucky girl!

  47. I wish we could love ourselves unconditionally, the way those who truly care for us do. Because I think we’d see ourselves and treat ourselves differently.

    I think you looked beautiful in all of these photos, bad fashion choices and all. And I mean that.

    Well done to you on setting up a good food/eating environment for your sons. I’m always astounded at how well my son does with food—he’ll try anything, even sushi, and the only thing he doesn’t like is mushrooms. But the other day he told me “Mommy, I like some mushrooms, but not other mushrooms.” I can work with that.

    Perhaps the generational issues we have had re: self-image can be rectified if we are as smart and thoughtful as you are with your children. Kudos, and hugs.

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, Erin. I don’t know that I am smart and thoughtful…but I guess I will give myself an A for trying and having a willingness to do better.

  48. Annie says:

    Jules, this is an amazing post. Many, many thanks for sharing your story. Kudos for being brave and putting it out there with such honesty. If I were the gold star fairy I’d be giving you lots.

  49. Brigitte says:

    It’s funny, but I wrote about weight today, albeit from a very different angle. I know well what it’s like to be called fat by your peers and to look back and see a girl who hides her size 8 body like it’s an enemy. I still have days where I’m so paralyzed by anxiety over how I look that I don’t want to leave the house.

    I somehow developed a healthy attitude towards food in the past few years. I think my “savior” was that I never had the willpower to diet. On the contrary, I was jealous of girls with eating disorders. I wished I had the strength they did. Of course, that’s crazy talk, but it’s how I felt most of my life. A few years ago, my mindset shifted to food = fuel and nutrition. Not in a strict never-eat-junk way, but I don’t worry about calories. Instead, I focus on trying to get as many veggies and lots of protein into my diet and figure the rest will sort itself. Anyway, this is getting detailed and very self-centered. Your post opened a door, one that gets shut so tightly by women. Thank you for having the strength to do so.

    • Jules says:

      For what it’s worth, I always thought you were beautiful in all the pictures I’ve seen of you. I think that’s great that you were able to switch your mindset to one that is more healthy. That’s what I am currently working on.

      • Brigitte says:

        I think the same about you. :)

        Of course…we tend to share only our best pics online…or I do, anyway. I’ve been told in person “You don’t look how I expected you to,” more than once. I’m never quite sure how to take that.

        But that’s besides the point, entirely. I wish I could look in the mirror with more kindness.

  50. Rita says:

    This post and all the comments really hits a nerve (a lot of them, actually) in me, too. I’m wondering if there is any body type that girls can feel OK about. I never struggled with “too much” weight, but I’ve got all kinds of issues about food and my body, I think because our bodies have so much to do with how we are treated. In early adolescence I was really thin (so thin I couldn’t find clothes that fit and my mom had to remake all my pants)–and no boys were interested in me–and once I stopped growing up and started growing out all kinds of boys/men were interested. Much as I was deeply pissed, I was also deeply pleased–and deeply disgusted with myself for being pleased and for caring. There was no way to win inside my head. Even for the most gorgeous of us there is no winning, and the part that really kills me is how much of it we women do to ourselves. Ashley Judd wrote a powerful piece on this recently: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html

    Anyway, I applaud your bravery in posting about this. This won’t change for any of our kids until more of us write honestly about what’s going on inside our heads and hearts when it comes to food and how we are treated because of how we look on the outside.

    • Jules says:

      Much as I was deeply pissed, I was also deeply pleased–and deeply disgusted with myself for being pleased and for caring. There was no way to win inside my head.

      Yes. Exactly.

      And I just read that Ashley Judd piece last night and posted it on our FB page. I love her. Thanks for sharing here with the people who aren’t on FB.

  51. A thousand thanks for this post!

    I started reading and it was like time stopped for me. I feel so much for you (and for my high-school self) who was thinking about and worried about the same things. Right down to the disappointed/embarrassed mom who thinks its her fault (and the skinny husband).

    I wish I could say it’s all a happy ending, but I still struggle with this stuff every few weeks or months, though I’ve made strides myself. Maybe this could be our happy middle?

  52. Greta says:

    Wow, this post could not be more timely.
    My son, age 7, just lost about 10 pounds because he stopped eating.
    He has always been big–he weighed 10.8 pounds at birth.
    All my babies have been over 9 pounds, but he was the biggest.
    My husband and I are 5’6 and 5’10.
    We are not huge, just normal.
    My boy is not huge either.
    But he’s big–he’s been above the 95 percentile in height and weight since birth.
    His dr. is wonderful and has never had a negative thing to say about James’ weight.
    He has said he is solid, and a big, healthy boy.
    Sometimes I have worried that James is getting too big, he loves to eat, but mostly I have felt that this is his body type and he will never be skinny.
    My 2nd son is the skinny one.
    James played his first year of baseball this year.
    He had no experience and was the worst on the team.
    It was real pitching–kid pitching.
    He had hit off a pitcher.
    He was the slowest runner.
    Some of the kids were mean to him.
    Suddenly, he stopped eating.
    My boy, who lived for brie cheese and a baguette, soft boiled eggs and toast, cheese and crackers, or a cheese burger for a treat, couldn’t even finish a piece of toast.
    At first I didn’t make the connection.
    I thought he was picky and being bratty.
    I quickly made the connection and then felt like a terrible mother for being so blind.
    He went from a size 8 to a size 6 falling off him.
    His eyes were sad and he cried on my lap, but wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.
    FInally, after I took him to the batting cages and he got his first hit, and crossed home plate, he came home and ate a whole hot dog.
    Not exactly healthy, I know, but at that point I was happy to have him eat.
    He said his stomach finally didn’t feel like it had butterflies in it and he didn’t feel like he was going to throw up all the time.
    He was suffering.
    And then yesterday he confessed that he was had stopped eating because he thought there was too much food in his stomach and it was too big.
    He wanted it to get flatter so he could be faster at baseball.
    “Im not the slowest kid anymore.”
    My heart hurts for him and I wonder how I move forward with this.
    I never struggled with this myself–I don’t know how I was lucky enough to escape it, but I did.
    He’s only 7.
    THis seems like a big deal, right?
    I am going to the library today to find some of those books and start learning all I can.
    Thank you so much for your honesty with this post.
    And I am sorry for writing you a novel.
    Like I said, this happened yesterday and I am still processing all of it.
    God bless,
    Greta

    • Jules says:

      This breaks my heart. It seems like a big deal to me for a 7 year old to be so sad and worried about his performance and to then attribute that to his weight.

      There was a chubby boy in the game before our yesterday, and the batter after him hit a home run. He was running as fast as he could (really huffing and puffing the whole way) while the batter before him (small and fast) clipped at his heels. I’m sure it was embarrassing for him.

  53. Jenn says:

    Like many have said, this is a brave, honest, and touching post. I was blissfully unaware of weight and food ‘issues’ until my late teens; when the flood gates of judgement opened, they have never closed again. It is a daily struggle. Wish deflecting judgement (self/external) was my superpower. Keep thinking about images of self, and the terminology that surrounds it – doesn’t it at times feel like it is all a battle, but what are we fighting for? Health? Most of the time not.
    Firmly agree that creating a model for our children to follow, and then following it ourselves is a step in the right direction. To see ourselves through our partners eyes. There is so much good inside of you, it radiates.
    Have you slept at all since writing, oh how anxious you must have been. It is done. It is beautiful, thank you for writing. ❤

  54. Susan G says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot since yesterday (as have many others, I’m sure). Yesterday when I commented the focus was on my weight, but what I really meant to talk about was my relationship with food. Interesting (to me), and disappointing to me also. It’s such a struggle to find the right place between loving and accepting ourselves and not using that as an excuse or easy way out from eating right and being healthy. And do I teach my daughters they are beautiful or that outer beauty doesn’t matter? There are no easy answers of course, but thank you again for being so brave as to talk about it.

    Ironically, perhaps, I started reading the next book club book – a cookbook seemed an odd choice yesterday. :) But – what a beautiful surprise! Here is a book that might help me learn to love and appreciate food for what it is, while not feeling guilty and perhaps learning not to eat junk that I crave “because I deserve it.” I love this book and already want to give it to everyone I know! So thank you for that also.

    • Jules says:

      Awesome! I’ve heard from a few people that they are really enjoying the book and that it has changed the way they cook/see food.

      I have the same struggle balancing love and acceptance, and it’s weird that acceptance somehow means eating junk. That’s the issue I’m working on. I don’t even like the junk food I eat, but because I’ve made it off limits it commands more of my attention.

  55. Miss B. says:

    Such a beautiful post Jules! You had me run the gamut of emotions and I let my coffee get cold reading it. I of course had to come back and let you know my favorite line:

    “Then again, I’m not sure anyone looked svelte wearing high-waisted, acid wash z. cavaricci jean shorts.”

    I doubt truer words have been uttered.

    Loved every second of it.

  56. Witty Mermaid says:

    I’ll spare you my eating stories.

    Posting just to commiserate… I have the FATTEST BUTT in the entire United States of America. As I have aged, it has not improved. Before I married, I used to swim several miles/week because I had nothing better to do. And I don’t mean doggie paddle. I took lessons and learned to swim. I could free-style swim for an hour and a half without stopping. And I still had the fattest butt. It’s me. It’s who I am. You have great hair. I have a fat butt. I am smart. I guess that sorta takes the pain out of the butt a little.

    My husband loves my fat butt. Not in a corny “trying to make me feel better” way. He really loves it. As silly as it sounds, I count that as one of my daily blessings…

  57. Witty Mermaid says:

    PS: I think you’re smart too. AND have great hair. You win!

  58. You did a fantastic job with this. I never thought much about the food I ate until I had kids (and a girl, especially).

  59. I read this twice yesterday but never left a comment because I was crying. I still can’t come up with what I want to say the way I want to say it. So I’ll just say this: thanks for sharing your painful memories and what you have learned along the way.

  60. Blair says:

    I came across your blog after searching for “Geneen Roth” on Twitter. I ‘m in the middle of “Breaking Free From Emotional Eating”, and am trying to implement some of the exercises into my life. I also kind of went public about my issues on my seldom read blog, but it’s a start in overcoming this obstacle in my life.

  61. Cathy says:

    Hi Jules,

    This was so incredibly brave of you to post this! I struggled with an eating disorder for 30 years. I’m recovered now and almost have my degree so I can be a therapist. It’s a hard, hard topic with so much shame attached. You tackled it bravely and honestly. I’m so glad you have gotten so many wonderful responses.

    Cathy

  62. Missie says:

    Oh my, I think this is the best post I’ve read from you yet. It’s amazing how one comment as a child can shape the way we feel about ourselves from then on. SO sad. You’re amazing. And beautiful! Those acid wash shorts rocked. :)

  63. YJ says:

    Hi Jules, thanks for sharing the post–it was so honest, so true, and you are so brave and eloquent, and beautiful!

    You’re like an older sister version of me –I have pictures too of myself in middle school where I distinctly remember ppl telling me, “oh, if only you lost a few pounds” and I look at those pics and I had the hottest legs and was super fit, and was perfectly NOT overweight. Ugh. Or the mandatory school weighing in 4th grade when I had developed way faster than everybody else in my grade and was thus taller and weighed more than everyone else, which of course, as a 9 year old didn’t register as “I had my growth spurt early” and instead as “ohmygod I weigh more than 100 pounds.”

    And then there is the whole Korean thing–where people regularly comment on your body–and think it’s OK. I cannot believe that it is only in the last few years that I finally told my parents–NO, it is not okay to criticize me about my weight. It was really hard, but amazingly, since then, they have not brought it up. Now I just need to have this talk with every.single.member.of my extended family, including my M.D. little sister. Sigh.

    I went to go buy the “good girls don’t get fat book” last night but then got pulled into Health at Every Size” and it has convinced me that diet and deprivation is bad (not that I’ve ever actually dieted/deprived myself); and funny thing, as soon as I told myself I can have a cookie if I felt like it (earlier today), I had one bite of a cookie after dinner and didn’t like it (the taste of the cookie) and stopped eating it. I hope to report back that this continues.

    • Jules says:

      Thanks, YJ! I completely understand the cultural issues. I dreaded going back to Argentina because, without fail, there would be comments about my weight. My mother took it especially hard, even though she and my dad used to comment on it for a long time, too. It wasn’t until I got older that I think my dad wised up and in tern told my mom to zip it. She read this post yesterday, and it made her very sad to think kids in school were making fun of me. I felt like telling her, “Mom, you have NO IDEA what I went through.” If I told her, it would kill her. Immigrant parents don’t like to think their kids had anything but perfect American school experiences.

      I’ve noticed the same thing about the cookies, “bad” food, etc. Please do report back–I’m curious to see how it goes for you. I’m always eager for more inspiration!!

  64. Olivia B says:

    Jules, you are an inspiration and brave!! I have so many words i want to say but want to be somehow coherent.. but for now, THANK YOU for writing this. PLUS you are drop dead beautiful to boot, the WHOLE package.

  65. Jennifer says:

    I’m sure I’m not the first one to say this (read through some of the comments, not all.), but that could be my story you’re telling up there. So many emotions running right now. Honestly, I want to weep. For both of us. For everyone else who experiences this. In fear that my daughter may one day go through any of this. Thank you so much for writing this. I can’t wait to check out all the resources you listed.

Leave A Comment

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.