Feeling Fat Shame and How It Affected My Parenting

I’ve felt shame around my obesity for most of my life. Since I was a child, I’ve felt the shame of not being able to do all the things other kids could do. As school children, when we would go on field trips, I was always the kid lagging behind with the teachers because it was hard to keep up with my peers. I remember at a young age worrying about whether certain types of chairs would hold me. I hated playing on the playground because I couldn’t play on most of the equipment.

Growing up I still felt the same shame. I couldn’t shop in the same stores as other teens. I couldn’t wear clothes that were the current trend. I always worried about whether I’d fit in the desks are school. I was looked down on by others at school because I didn’t look like them.

Let the shaming happen

I remember throughout my childhood and teens hearing the phrase "you need to lose weight" by many. I heard it from well-meaning family, friends, and doctors. Nevertheless, it fed into that shame. I would try and when it didn’t happen the shame would compound upon itself.

Body positivity wasn’t really a thing when I was growing up. During the 90s and early 2000s the ideal body shape was the Victoria Secret model and if you didn’t match that you weren’t good enough.

I remember feeling desperate to find clothes that would fit me that looked like what the popular girls would wear instead of the more adult fashion that was often found in the plus sized sections. I remember getting the teenage catalogs and scouring the pages hoping to find my size within. Most often I would be disappointed, and the shame would just continue to grow.

Even as an adult I felt the shame that being obese brought me. Even though at this point more stores carried larger sizes and it wasn’t so difficult to find clothes in my size, it was still just as hard to relate to other people who were smaller than me. I still worried about whether a chair would hold me. I still worried about whether people would look at me differently because of my size.

Raising my children to love themselves

Then I had my first 2 children. At this point I made a choice. Do I raise my kids to be constantly worried about their weight by closely monitoring what they eat and criticizing every morsel they put in their mouths? Or do I raise my children to love who they are in their authenticity and uniqueness? The choice was obvious.

I chose to raise my children to love themselves for who they are and that included their body shape and size. I still encourage healthy eating and to eat certain foods in moderation, but I don’t make a fuss about how eating will make them look. We talk about food for our health rather than food for our size.

Being who we were meant to be

Because of this I’ve managed to let go of my personal shame and raise 2 teenagers who are so incredibly true to themselves. They are able to comfortably have their own styles despite what is popular and are able to talk about their weight in a healthy positive way rather than look at their shapes disparagingly.

Since I approached the subject of weight throughout their lives around the idea of health rather than appearance, my kids have a healthy view of what it means to be themselves. I’ve worked hard throughout the years so that my children did not have to feel the shame that I did throughout my life regarding my appearance. I’ve always wanted them to be able to look at themselves and like what they saw in the mirror.

My eldest daughter is what you would consider to be plus sized, but she very much loves who she is. And while she might occasionally say something about wanting to lose weight, she’s not obsessively worried about it. She knows what steps she wants to take and I’m there to support her whether she loses weight or chooses to stay that shape she is. She can make her decision freely and without the pressure and shame that I grew up with. She embraces who she is and what her style is wholly and unequivocally.

You deserve it too

If you feel shame because of how you feel you look in the mirror do what you can to let it go. It’s probably the most freeing weight you lose. No matter what size or shape you may be, you are a beautiful creation and your deserve to feel that way about yourself.

Stop obsessively berating yourself about what you’ve eaten and instead allow yourself some grace to nourish your body. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror and wishing you were someone else. I love you just as you are, and you deserve to love yourself as well.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Obesity.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.