I don’t know how to say it any plainer

Last Thursday, MiL and I went to her physical therapy appointment.  Driving there, we passed by the doctor’s office of the doctor who performed MiL’s niece’s lap band surgery. 

“I know you don’t want to diet, but what about doing something like a lap band?  It’s really helped Jessica* out.  She’s lost a lot of weight you know.”

I told MiL that I would never consider such a dangerous and invasive surgery as that.  And had to listen to all the reasons why it’s NOT dangerous and NOT invasive.  Besides all the other problems, just the fact that they are cutting holes in your body makes it dangerous and invasive.

Then I said I would not be put on a starvation diet.  MiL said it wasn’t a starvation diet, they just put this tube around your stomach, and inflate it so you can’t eat much.

She was serious.  She didn’t see that as a starvation diet.  She really didn’t understand when I told her it was a medically accepted means to starve oneself. 

We started talking about calories, and she told me that if I’d just eat 1000 calories a day I’d lose weight.  At this point, I’d had it.  I asked her why she wanted me to starve myself.  She said it wasn’t starving myself, and I told her about the Minnesota Experiment, and how the men were put on a “semi-starvation diet” of 1800 calories a day.  And then asked her if that was considered semi-starvation, and it only being about 600 calories less than what an active man should eat, then what she thought 1000 calories and half of my ‘recommended’ daily intake of calories would be considered.

She gave up on that tactic, and finally tried the “it’s not how much you eat, but what you eat anyways, when you eat so much butter and cream and…”  I cut her off mid-sentence. 

What I eat, and how much I eat is nobody’s business but mine.  I thought that, by engaging in dialogue, it’d help her to maybe open her mind to other ideas, but it turns out all she wants to do is continue to harass me about my weight.  I told her that she has no right putting her nose into what I eat, how much or little I eat, and that we would never talk about weight, nor my weight specifically, again.

Sometimes, in the face of so much criticism, it’s hard to keep things in focus.

I spent most of my life trying to fit in, conform, be skinny.  I spent my childhood in constant hunger because my mother believed one could never be too thin.  I spent most of my adulthood yoyo-ing up to the size I am now.  I have engaged in disordered behaviors towards food because of the criticism of people like my MiL. 

She has the right to her beliefs.  She has the right to think I’m unhealthy (because, yes, my health did get brought up in that conversation) despite the fact that all my lipids and tryglicerides and blood pressure and everything is normal, JUST because I’m fat.  I can’t change her mind about any of it.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her make me feel defensive and have to justify actually living, and enjoying myself while doing it, either.


*Names changed to protect the innocent.


14 Responses

  1. Good for you! I think you did a great job of handling the situation. Trying to engage people in dialogue, IMO, is a fantastic way of getting them to understand our POV–even if it doesn’t always work. Hopefully, you made yourself clear to your friend that your weight or lifestyle is none of her business. I know it drives me crazy when my friends poke at how I eat. Sometimes, you just have to be firm about your boundaries.

  2. I think it’s also important to draw a line at “health” talk. As much as we love our families and the people in our lives, their health is their own business. Of course I don’t want my loved ones smoking, or sky diving, or doing drugs, but at some point I realize that they have the right to live their life independent of what I might want. If they are unhealthy, they have a right to be so if they desire.

  3. Good for you on speaking up with your MiL. *hugs*

  4. I don’t have anything original to add, but I agree, good job for speaking up. I know it can’t have been easy, but it sounds like you handled it exactly right.

  5. Ah well, you can never tell how much it might filter in even if it doesn’t seem to change her mind that minute. Good for you for being assertive. Oh and you can tell her that my great grandma ate butter and cream and her own homemade scones and bread all her life (going to visit her was YUM!) and yes she was fat, and is now 107 and still going, much to her disgust as she has outlived all her (slimmer) family and friends, who by the way also ate like that and were not fat.

  6. How about telling your MiL that if she’s going to use these little drives to harass you about your weight, then she can go by herself to her physical therapy appointments from now on? If you are going to be courteous to her, you can expect at least minimal courtesy in return.

    • Unfortunately, MiL driving is too scary to contemplate. She’s one of the people who’s disabilities have infringes on her driving, but who doesn’t acknowledge it yet.

      It’s really a much safer thing for everybody if I drive her to her appointments.

  7. I also eat real butter & cream & grew up that way (we had cows when I was a child & my mother made her own butter, as well as ice cream & cottage cheese) & that she & almost all of my other relatives are living now or have lived well into their 80’s or 90’s, with one great aunt making it to 101. And, yes, most of them have been fat. I currently have three brothers who are in their 70’s & two of them are fat & the youngest one in particular eats a very high fat diet, never exercises, & has been an active alcoholic since he was 15; he was told by a doctor about 43 years ago that he had five years to live. Do I wish he didn’t drink? Yes, but, much as I have been hurt in my life by the alcoholics around me & much as I would wish better things for Ted, it is his life & his body & his business. And his behavior is not apparently killing him at an early age.

    There is no one way of eating or living or exercising or anything else which guarantees health or long life &, even if there WERE, much as the government & insurance companies & diet companies, etc., try to convince us otherwise, our bodies belong to us & our lives are OUR BUSINESS. I think you did very well trying to enlighen your MIL, setting boundaries, &, also, from my point of view, holding your temper.

    I kind of got into this awhile ago when I posted comments very similar to this on another blog about why I cannot really embrace HAES, because to me it really sounds like another diet in disguise & another way of telling people that they need to live a certain way, even if it does tell them that maybe they will not lose weight by doing so. The author of the blog interpreted what I was saying as, “Well, my family is fat & unhealthy, so why doesn’t everyone else live the same way?” NO, that is not what I was saying. In fact, I think that my point is, given how tough & long-lived most of us are, my family is NOT unhealthy & BEING unhealthy doesn’t go with being fat or with eating in a certain way or whatever else you may or not may not do. I actually have had fewer health problems & spent less time at the doctor’s than virtually anyone else I know who is around 60 years old, but that is mostly a combination of dumb luck on the genetic front in having pretty healthy genes & hating/fearing doctors to the point where I need to be dragged in by the hair.

    I hope that perhaps some of what you said will filter through to your MIL, though my own experience has indicated that many older people see their beliefs as fact & set in stone. However, setting your boundaries & speaking up for yourself is very important, whether or not she is ever convinced.

  8. My mom occasionally does the “but that food is so BAD for you” talk and I cut her off immediately, saying I don’t want to hear it. There is nothing virtuous about dieting or having WLS.

  9. I’ve been having all kinds of issues lately with people judging me based on my acceptance of my own body. They say I am sabotaging their weight-loss efforts (really, that’d be awesome) and that they themselves aren’t the problem, they’re losing weight FOR THEIR HEALTH. Which always gives me the *headdesks*.

    My grandmother used to harass me about being fat when I was a kid. I weighed about 110 when I was 12, and five feet tall. I got up to 130, and was all curves, and my grandmother would say, “I used to be a nurse, I’m worried about your health!”

    The diet industry knew what it was doing when it conflated weight with health, because now everyone both has a reason to diet (thus increasing the coffers of companies who produce such BS products as whatever Anna Nicole Smith was on) and a reason to judge those who don’t.

    I read today that Angelina Jolie’s on that stupid “cayenne pepper and maple syrup in water” “diet”. When it’s more reminiscent of a concentration camp, I’m sorry, it’s not a “diet”.


  10. Medicaid provides free taxis to go to therapy appointments…tell your MIL she can take a taxi if she wants to use your time together as a pretext to nag you about your weight. Any kind of surgery that is not medically or aesthetically necessary is mutilation.

  11. […] I don’t know how to say it any plainer Last Thursday, MiL and I went to her physical therapy appointment.  Driving there, we passed by the doctor’s […] […]

  12. Good for you in not letting ignorance and stubbornness get you down!
    I think you really did the right thing in just ending the conversation. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just agree to disagree. I often find myself telling my mother or cousin or aunt that they aren’t going to get me to change my mind and I obviously am not going to change theirs… so why don’t we talk about something else. 🙂

  13. I am so glad that I found your site. I hate when my own mother gets “sad” about my weight. Do not get me wrong I would love to loose a few pounds. Who wouldn’t? I just do not see why when you are overweight you are suddenly defined by your weight! I will be back. Keep sharing!


    Please visit me at http://www.askbecca.com

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