Yeah, I’m kind of in shock too.
It’s in the December 2009 issue. The Fat Fight in the “Connections” section, by Robin Marantz Henig and Jess Zimmerman. Actually it’s a pair of articles: the first is by the mother, Henig; the second is by the daughter, Zimmerman.
Henig discusses how she tried to be “supportive” of her daughter so she wouldn’t grow up fat, but notes that “Of course, that’s exactly what I did: create a problem where there was none.”
Meals soon became a battleground. […] And when Jessie asked for seconds, I’d say, “Are you really hungry?” I thought that sounded supportive. I see now how harsh it was. If she asked for food, she was hungry. I should at least have trusted her to know her own body’s cues.
Describing a “tantrum” in the dermatologists’s office during Zimmerman’s early teens, Henig states,
I was mystified. I didn’t see that this doctor visit was, to Jessie, yet another indication that my love was conditional. She thought I loved her only when she was clear-skinned and slim.
On the one hand, Henig’s puzzlement seems genuine; on the other, I can’t help but wonder how she expected anything else. Yes, people joke that parents worry and kids to feel they can’t measure up and it’s not real — except when it is.
In her article, Zimmerman states,
It’s difficult for a child to differentiate between someone who wants to armor her against an unjust world and someone who thinks that she’s damaged.
Most parents would claim to be wanting to do the former — but that doesn’t always mean they don’t feel the latter. It’s a message our culture screams from the rooftops; many, many parents of fat kids pick up on it too. Children may not want to believe their parent is rejecting them…but if the parent repeats it often enough over the years, it’ll break through the denial.
In college, Zimmerman discovered new ideas, among them fat acceptance.
Sophomore year, Mom wrote an article tut-tutting about how the people on campus who told me to “honor my hunger” were only ruining my diet. I ran a campus-wide campaign for Love Your Body Day and asked Mom to quit writing about me.
At 27, Zimmerman sent Henig a pointer to Joy Nash’s Fat Rant video, which led to more discussion between her and her mother. Henig began researching fat acceptance, realizing it works for Zimmerman and her fiance. Zimmerman puts it:
These days I can write about my body — and even, cautiously, let my mother write about it — because I’ve jettisoned the old narratives and started to scratch out a new one. It’s a complicated story, with an unpredictable plot — good days, bad days, a pervasive sense of shame that’s hard to shake. But I’m finding that the main character is much more healthy, stable, and worthwhile than I’d ever known.
Related: This article on health at every size quotes Jessica Zimmerman on her experiences with dieting, disordered eating, and HAES.