Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Healthy woman tired of being badgered about her weight
Q: I'm about to turn 30, I see a doctor regularly, and I am, in her words, "in excellent health" — cholesterol, heart, blood pressure, yadda yadda.
However, I have gained 15 pounds in the past three years. I have also gotten married, and my parents, who used to live overseas, have returned to the area. My parents are constantly jibing at me about my weight.
My mom has even started e-mailing my husband, telling him he "has to do something." She claims she is worried about my health, despite the fact that I have told her my doctor's opinion. I know she is obsessed with what other people think. I've always noticed that about her and thought it sad, but generally just reacted by being a happy person and ignoring her.
However, her e-mails are driving my husband crazy. And since he's not happy that I've gained weight, her e-mails are becoming an issue between us.
I feel that, as long as I am eating well and staying active, I should be left alone. I think my metabolism changed in my late 20s, and that's life. I refuse to court anorexia or take diet pills.
I'm also sick of sometimes allowing my mom and husband to make me feel bad about myself, and wondering why they are doing this to me. In fact, I'm crying right now. If I could magically lose 15 pounds, that would be great. But this is me. What can I do to make this situation stop?
A: I know you're probably looking for reassurance and a get-out-of-my-face-free card. You have both, since you're paying attention to the things that count, and so you can always deflect your mom: "I am healthy. I will no longer have this conversation with you." And then, don't.
However, there's more to this. You have an appearance-conscious, boundary-unconscious mother, and a spouse who is better at enabling her than supporting you. And you're counting on them both to be otherwise. And you're conflicted about your weight yourself. There's a pattern here, and counseling wouldn't be an overreaction. It could help you figure out your relationships and the weight, which would then help you deal with both more productively.
Let mother and husband know they're being hurtful
Q: For the woman who may have married her mother. Ever try saying to either of them: "Why do you want to hurt me so much?"
I see nothing to indicate that she's ever told them how upsetting this is for her. It may not make a bit of difference — but that's something to know, too, isn't it?
A: Indeed. Thanks. It's important more as a way of asserting herself than swaying them. The only sure way to shed abusers — yes, abusers — like her mom is to deny them traction. That requires sturdy belief in self, and she's not there yet; she isn't fine with her weight.
Which, cruelly, might perpetuate the gaining. Food is a ready source of comfort, and clearly her closest relationships are of little comfort to her. That, not calorie-counting, is what needs her attention now.