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These comments are everything! Feeling understood is like a drug. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and sharing your own experiences. What an amazing community!

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

This is heartbreaking and true. I’m 65 and the expectations from our childhood and teens have been so ingrained that even now everything you wrote resonates. Mom was fat and dad was thin and he never let her forget her “failure” to “maintain” a thin figure--this despite 10 pregnancies and 7 children. I got my tubes tied at 20. I am thin with little effort, yet I still compare myself to younger women whose bodies are firm and fresh. We live surrounded by examples of why we will never be good enough.

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

Yeah, I don’t know why mothers think saying no one will love/marry you if you don’t change this or that ever works. Me, I just said well fine, then, I’ll live without it. (In my case is was my “terrible” personality, and my skepticism about marriage and men in my life as something desirable in the first place). It kept me single till 37, which was probably a blessing! And I didn’t have to settle for someone who thought I had a terrible personality or who dismissed my doubts. (He’s gone now, but I had a few good years!)

Anyway, still perfectly content to pass on “love” and men at the cost of conforming to unrealistic expectations. Still have a terrible personality! 😂😂😂

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You are freeing me up this morning! Lately I’ve gone back to the game of “should I diet?” “What kind of diet?” “What’s my goal weight?” And I am sick to death of trying to be thinner just so I can fit my ass into a certain pair of jeans or “look good” for the rest of the world.

The other day my husband walked in while I was lying on the bed in all my glory with the ceiling fan on trying to come down from a hot flash. My first thought was to cover up because my fat was just spilling over everywhere. Then I thought, he doesn’t care about that--he continues to want to score no matter my weight!

Down with diets! Onward with living life on my terms!

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Sep 15, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

I loved Gina's piece SO much!

I was born two months prematurely "so small you fit in the palm of the doctor's hand," my mother said often. And perhaps because of this I was always thin. Except NO ONE used the word "thin" which has a pleasant ring. Rather they said, "skinny" which sounds ugly. Doesn't it?

My earliest memories are of my mother looking at me disapprovingly, "People are going to think I don't FEED you," she'd say, " What am I going to have to do to put some weight on you?"

I'd try to turn it into a joke, point to my spidery shadow on the ground next to me. "Am I as skinny as THAT?" but inside I felt bad for letting my mom down and ashamed that my body was a source of unhappiness for her.

Then puberty came along.

Or rather it didn't.

We lived in a suburb of Manhattan and my mom's younger sister, my Aunt Rita, visited us from Maryland, "Look at you," she said in a tone I had a hard time parsing. (It sounded sarcastic.) "You're almost like a boy, you're flat as a board! Unlike my Jessie," here she'd point to my cousin, Jessica, born three months after me, who already had large breasts. "The boys don't stay away from HER," Aunt Rita announced (with pride? dismay? I wasn't sure.)

Anyway, I LOVE Gina's piece and relate to it SO much albeit from a different angle. I'm glad we can openly discuss issues around weight, body image and child rearing now. There was SO much shame attached to discussing these issues when I was younger. It's great to write without shame!

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

Gina, I love this so much. I was pudgy in the 1970s with a mother who lived by Weight Watchers and you nailed the era, the food and worries, and the mindset. You had to be thin but not work out and look 1980s Jane Fonda fit because that wasn't "womanly." I lost all the weight once - was cold all the time and ate nothing but raw vegetables - but am solid now (fat plus trail running and weight lifting muscles) and life is just fine.

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Sep 14, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

What a lovely and painful to read essay! I resonated with it and cringed at all the ways mothers deeply hurt us, in an effort to do just the opposite.

I too decided that between having a baby and becoming a writer, I'd rather pick the latter. I 'decided' that the day I found out I couldn't have babies, and now I realize I made that 'choice' in order to win at *something*, in order to feel worthy of *something*, pressured by mother's expectations...

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You really nailed it in this essay, Gina! As the fat daughter of a thin mama (I took after my father’s side), I don’t believe I have spent a single day of my life--beginning as a little girl--when thoughts of my weight didn’t come up. At 13 I joined Weight Watchers--it was in the 60s when you had to eat fish several times a week. I lost a lot of weight as well as my period. Later, in college, I developed an eating disorder. Basically I absorbed the message that you couldn’t be loved (by a man, but also anyone else) if you weren’t thin. I did get married, have a child, become a writer and teacher, but this early messaging scarred my psyche forever. I don’t think it ever goes away. And I’m still a member of WW. And, no, I’m not thin.

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

Gina, I loved this. Thank you for writing it.

You hit the nail on the head about life in Indiana in the late 70s for all us Gen X girls. I know I personally contributed to the ozone problem by spraying ridiculous amounts of Sebastian hairspray on my ramrod straight hair to get that perfect feathered look. *sigh*

The worst is that I was blessed to have a mother who wasn't into these things (feminist, divorced, and enlightented); unfortunately, the social pressure of suburban Indiana was too much for me. It sold me on the pretty/thin BS, and it's taken me years to pull the poison from my veins. The worst is how it lingers.

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I know this piece is about weight, but this sentence, "I can’t remember exactly why, but her office was in a neighboring town, and driving your children all over creation hadn’t yet been established as a love language." I was laughing out loud. Loved.

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Sep 14, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

You are my sister by another mother. I have been fat most of my life but managed to have a weirdly skinny daughter. I spent days trying to get her to eat per the pediatrician’s orders. So many conflicting issues! Today she is a happy petite (married) 29 yo and I am a happy fat 60 yo who is doing everything I choose to do in my life. My 91 yo mother never mentions my weight. She wouldn’t dare! I wish I had known you growing up.

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Sep 14, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

It hurt, to know I’d remain a spinster, but not everyone knows how to do that dance — and all I wanted was to have the space to live my life.

Thank you, for your reflections.

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Sep 13, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

What a wonderful article. Thank you!

I saw a little clip of Emma Thompson this morning imploring women not to diet, and although I agree with her whole-heartedly, my first thought was 'what would you know, you're thin and beautiful'. I've never been very good at dieting because I'm quite lazy, so I can't be bothered. I also like food and dislike being hungry. It distracts me from my writing.

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I was also a perpetually chubby little girl and teen, and now midlifer. And my mother said similar things also out of love. I’m now 53, happily married with 3 kids, and also writing, but I’ve never lost that feeling of wanting to look like everyone else. It’s hard not to believe that life is easier if you’re thin. Your piece was heartfelt, beautifully written and the sentiments were so personal and recognizable. Thank you.

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Gina Fattore

Oh, the ways our mothers warped us. I also got the "boys won't like you" but mine was about being too talkative, assertive. Oh, and not wearing makeup. Tsk.... And then I asked for a divorce, again proving my inability to get/keep a man. Thank you for sharing a story that so many of us can resonate with.

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Sep 12, 2022Liked by Sari Botton, Gina Fattore

You were so smart to go after what you loved! It is what I hope for most for my daughter. Dieting is such a distraction and a downer. I have so much compassion and respect for your story.

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