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You’d be so pretty if…

By means of full disclosure I’m compelled to share Ive known Dara Chadwick, author of the book You’d be so pretty if…, for longer than even she realizes.

I followed her year long  journey of self-exploration & weightloss each month in Shape magazine way before I had the pleasure of meeting her in virtual life.

As a result, one of my favorite things about the book You’d be so pretty if… is that Dara is precisely whom she always portrayed herself to be.

Yes she’s smart, beautiful & funny—-but she’s also courageous (in her honesty), real (in sharing how she doesnt always adore her body) & human (in her struggles with motherhood & simply trying to be the best role model she can).

In her book You’d be so pretty if… Dara opens up about her body image issues, her ‘brief flirtation’ with an eating disorder, and her desire not to pass any of this baggage on to her daughter, Faith.

The book’s subtitle, however, teaching our daughters to love their bodies - even when we don’t love our own is what most made me want to crack the cover.

Subtitle perfection in that it nails a fear so many moms have yet so few ever say aloud.

The nagging “but I dont adore how I look all the time—how on earth can I help my daughter grow to find self-love & acceptance?” worry.

I think, if we’re honest with each other & ourselves, the majority of us fret about that from the very moment we’re given the it’s a girl news.

Through sharing her story (and weaving other mom/daughter quotes & stories throughout) Dara helps the reader realize she can be a self-acceptance work in progress and still help her daughter(s) navigate the rocky path to body-love.

I really liked this book.

There were places where I found myself wanting to yell at Dara (hello BUN POLICE page 46!) and others where my heart ached right along with her (*sigh* page 150 At what age do we let our daughters start shaving their legs? As women of dark & hairy descent my sisters & I ponder that one already.).

It’s a book Ive already recommended to friends without children as it caused me to look back and re-examine my own relationship with my mother.

I am aware that I’m really, really fortunate to not struggle with body image issues —-yet does this mean my mother didn’t either?

Or was she simply able to not pass them along to me?

A single friend I lent You’d be so pretty if…. remarked that it powerfully shifted her attitude toward her mother.

She’d always resented how she perceived her mom to be highly critical of her (the daughter’s) weight and this book triggered the Oh it wasnt about me! moment my friend had not yet had.

As I yammered about on Mother’s Day, all I want for my daughter is to be 100% at ease and comfortable in her own skin.

I truly believe that once we experience that all other facets of our lives slide into place.

Reading You’d be so pretty if... is definitely one crucial step in that direction.

Dara has generously offered to give one reader a copy of her book and you can be entered to win for the lowlow price of a comment below.

The question?  If you had the opportunity ask her absolutely anything what’s the one question you’d pose to your mother with regards to body image, weight and self-acceptance.

Winner announced tomorrow. USA only.  Male USA residents you’re welcome to chime in!

(To see Dara & her daughter, Faith, interviewed on the Today Show CLICK HERE.)

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101 Responses to “You’d be so pretty if…”

  1. Rupal says:

    WOW miz, you have got me intrigued for sure!

    My mother never really placed much of an emphasis on weight or make-up or clothes simply because she didn’t have any of these luxuries growing up.

    I’d probably ask my mother about her struggles to raise a woman in today’s American society being an immigrant herself and how she was able to understand and accept the things I was going through and at the same time, cultivate me to grow up with such a healthy (or what I think is healthy) self- respect.

  2. Lara (Thinspired) says:

    This sounds like a great book. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’d ask my mom with regards to body image. She’s had a lifelong struggle with eating and body image that unfortunately she passed on to me. I might ask her why she felt like she was never good enough.
    I’d also ask her what she might do different with raising 3 girls in terms of body image and a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
    This is the reason why I loved your Mother’s Day message-I wanted to send that message to MY mom! ;)

  3. Sagan says:

    Aww too bad its US only. I adore Dara and also followed her throughout her year with Shape! Super exciting that she’s got her book out and everything.

    I think I’d have too many questions to ask my mum than to pick just one. But somehow, she makes it all look SO EASY… the type of woman who appears to have never been concerned about body image. It’s kind of mind boggling. And truly inspiring. My sister and I grew up completely oblivious that there were such things as dieting and eating disorders etc.

  4. Crabby McSlacker says:

    This book does sound awesome! Fortunately I just have a cat who doesn’t give a crap how much she weighs, so any baggage i may have about body image is not getting passed down.

    Actually, I was really lucky, my mom is naturally slim and active and not the least bit vain, and I was a total tomboy and also very active, so I didn’t get any weird messages about body image. Any annoying hang-ups I have about weight come from our stupid screwed up misogynist culture and not my family.

  5. Trish says:

    This is a hard one as my Mom and I have a strained relationship.

    I think I would have to ask her…

    …why did you not show any regard in what you fed us as kids. You gave no thought to serving fast food or stuff from a box. Why did I not know what fresh fruits and veggies were until I got married?

  6. Bea says:

    I would love to read this book!
    Id ask my mom if it really was a sense of selfloathing that made her hyper critical of me.

    Miz? you need to write a book. Id love to read one from the non-wounded (uh, that’s me not Dara. I don’t know dara or if she’s wounded :) ) perspective as well.

  7. Yum Yucky says:

    I wouldn’t ask my mother, but rather certain members of my family, and this is why…..

    When I was young my family teased my cousin because of her weight. She was about 7 and they called her “moose on the loose” - even made up a song and sang it around her constantly. I being a kid (only 6), laughed and sang along too. Now 30 years later, my cousin still struggles with yo-yo dieting and other unhealthy weight loss tactics.

    So my question to my family is: “Why would you do that to a child? Why would cause such pain and insecurity. Why so heartless?”

    That song was sung well into her teenage years.

  8. Erica says:

    I agree with all the commenters- I really want to read this book now. I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve already started thinking about the topic. I feel like my mom did such a great job teaching us about eating well, health and exercise without making it an obsessive issue. I guess I’d ask my mama how she found that right balance?

  9. Kim says:

    I would want to ask my best friend’s mom:

    How did YOU do it?
    She’s so normal.

    I’d love to win Dara’s book.

  10. jen [@bwJen] says:


    As always you have timing!! My 9 (10 next month) year old daughter told my husband about this boy in the neighborhood. This boy had just dumped “G” and is going out with “K” but she asked why did he dump G. And then she told me and she said that this boy only like G because she was getting boobies. My daughter asked me when she was going to get boobies and why did she need them? She is growing up so fast! My main reason for the weightloss is to show her a strong and mobile mom! This book sounds perfect! and when do you let your daughter shave her legs??

    Please let me win!!

    <3 Jen

  11. Berni says:

    Man, I can’t wait to read more comment, already these make me tear up, but also feel so normal as I too have many questions for my own mother. I know I can’t enter to win what sounds like a beautiful book, but I thought I’d put this question out into the universe anyway.

    Mum: Why didn’t you ever tell me that I wasn’t actually fat, that all my 10 year old anxieties were misplaced?

  12. Miz says:

    (*slaps on her counseling bandanna/degree she rarely uses*)

    Berni? your comment (and a couple of the others) made me think about an exercise Ive done.

    One which is, in a way, trite but always works for me.

    The writing of a letter which I never plan to send or share.

    (And, if youre me, the writing, reading, rippingshredding of aforementioned letter)

    really, really cathartic.

  13. Marianne says:

    Hot-dog legs

    Only a few of the names my mother called me…

    She’d have a field day if she could see me now!

    It’s not just girls. I have boys going through puberty and they are so hyper-aware of the fact that they don’t look like the guys on Mens’ Health. Maybe the Victorian’s weren’t so wrong about just keeping bodies covered!

  14. Sara says:

    This is a worry that I definitely have, and hope that I can do a good job with my kids someday. This sounds like a great great book.

    My mom never really talked about dieting or food; I don’t necessarily think I developed my food issues from her. But I do remember her bouts of working out, passing on dessert and complaining that she was fat (even though she is sooo thin). So I always was curious to whether or not she suffered from the same types of things as I do, even though she never really talked about it or showed it. So I think I would ask her if she could relate at all to the things I go through so often in regards to food.

  15. Hanlie says:

    This is a subject I’m very interested in… and one I deem very important. It sounds like a great book!

  16. MizFit says:

    Marianne? THANK YOU for pointing this out:

    It’s not just girls. I have boys going through puberty and they are so hyper-aware of the fact that they don’t look like the guys on Mens’ Health. Maybe the Victorian’s weren’t so wrong about just keeping bodies covered!

    Ren Man and I talk about this frequently.
    sad, sad that we havent ‘solved’ the media problem just dragged the males into the mix.

  17. cher says:

    i know i don’t have to ask my mother about this, as she was always active, healthy and motivated. i know my struggles come from my father and HIS mother, my grandmother. hearing phrases from my dad like “boys don’t want a fat girl”, or my grandmother pinching my sides and saying “getting a lil fluffy there dear” or “you were so pretty when you were a teen, sad how you’ve let yourself go, were the things that drove me crazy and really hurt my self esteem and confidence. the moment i realized, “i don’t give a crap WHAT you think of me” was the moment i began my journey in loving myself to do what i felt i needed to do.

  18. Irene says:


    My family is latino. My grandmother is a bit dark, but my mother is what you’d call ‘high-yellow’. My mother would always bitch and moan that I was too dark so I’d ask my mother:

    “Why was my skin color so unacceptable to you?”

  19. dragonmamma/naomi w. says:

    “Why did you marry dad?”

    No questions about body issues, ’cause she didn’t have any. My earliest memories are of waking up early to jump along with my mom to the Jack Lalanne Show. Her diet advice was to skip second helpings.

    She’s still pretty darn fit and spry at 85.

  20. Diana says:

    I was fortunate enough to have a relationship with my mom that allowed us to talk about stuff like this. We talked about everything. She wasn’t always perfect, but that’s what made her so…that she tried her best to give me everything I needed. How on earth y’all do it, I have no idea! It scares the heck out of me!

  21. Miz says:

    a fast TMI but, as you moms/aunts/grandmas/friends so know, there’s no privacy in the house with a toddler around.

    Just exited shower & toddler said:

    Mama I love your belly!

    Immediately thought of all this, grinned and said:

    Thank you! I do too!

  22. Dr. J says:

    My mom always presented herself to others with class and beauty.

  23. tricia2 says:

    I’d ask my mother why, when I came home for a visit after 3 months of college, and she took me shopping, and realized that her size 4 daughter had shrank to a 0, and was spending hours a day at the gym, she said nothing, except when my sisters said something about my weight (and then why she took their side in the conversation, but never tried to help).

    And on the leg-shaving issue? Let them when they first ask. My mom made me wait until I was 11, which was 3 years after classmates started making fun of me for it. It was my first memory of hating my legs.

  24. Christina says:

    I would love to read this book. I’ve had a lot of image issues and they stem from both my parents. My mom going on the “cabbage soup diet” with me when I was in highschool is something that sticks out in my mind. I remember her always wanting to lose 5 or 10 pounds and then being upset when no one really noticed. I find myself falling into those same patterns and never feeling good enough. I always thought that was normal…

  25. Kimberly Lee says:

    My mother has and still struggles with body issues. Throughout my childhood she would gain a large amount of weight (say 180-190 on her 5’2 frame) and then crash diet (pratically starve herself) until she got back to an “acceptable” weight - and that was usually under the 100 lb. mark. She never critcized my body while I was child or teenager — but did so after I graduated college, started therapy for my eating disorder, and started getting back to a healthy weight. I remember the moment clearly, sitting on the sofa at my grandmother’s - my mother walks over pokes my stomach and says “Looks like someone is getting fat.”

    If I could ask her one question it would “Why would you make such a comment when you knew I was struggling with overcoming an eating disorder? Did you not realize how much that comment would derail my progress?”

    I suppose that is two questions, but two that I wish I had the nerve to ask her.

  26. BeckStein says:

    I guess I would ask my mom why she takes care of everyone else but herself? I know when we were little and my parents were still married, my Mom still took pretty good care of herself…Everything to watching her weight to doing her hair & make-up everyday. But after my parents relationship started getting rocky (dad was gay btw) my mom seemed to lose her battle with the bulge and after the divorce my mom’s interest in herself got less and less to the point where taking care of herself was no longer a priority…heck I would say it wasn’t even on the list. True, she had two little girls to support while dad “found” himself, but if you forget to take care of yourself, then who’s going to be around to take care of your children? Mom now has had 2 stents put in, a double bypass surgery, and now has to giver herself shots everyday for her diabetes…yet for some reason, she still hasn’t realized the point that she needs to take care of herself and her health will only continue to decline. Sadly I think she doesn’t care, and I don’ t know what to say or how to help her. :(

  27. Nan says:

    As always you have me thinking.
    I often focus on my irritation for my mother (just being honest) but not what I would ask her.
    What I would desire she clarify for me.

    Ill be back after I give this thought.

    xo xo,


  28. Gigi says:

    Love the sound of this book but with a boy I’m not sure I qualify - altho the little man could sure use some self-love.

    My mom has late stage Alzheimer’s but in its earlier stages, she would ask me if I was still going to Curves (the workout center) - which hurt me deeply. Is this one of the last things that’s on her mind, I wondered. She and I have always been very close but when my weight went up, so did the unwelcome comments. So if I could ask her anything I guess it would be if she loved me as much when I was fat as when I was thin.

    Great topic.

  29. Jill says:

    This is a touchy subject for me. Although I love my mom to death, she has always been very critical and negative. I wouldn’t WANT to ask her about body image or self acceptance because even though she is nearly 70, she still has very bad body image issues.

    I try so so so hard NOT to pass on those issues to my daughter, who is 8 years old. I tell her that I exercise because it keeps me healthy and gives me energy (which it does, but I really do it because I want to lose 20 pounds). I worry about this a lot, but haven’t quite figured out how to handle it with her.

  30. Miz says:

    I started to cut & paste and QUOTE but realized I was cutting and pasting and quoting all of your comments.

    THANK YOU for sharing and baring yourselves.

  31. Reese says:

    My mom has been a recovered (and not so recovered at times) food addict for my entire life and most of hers. There were times when I would come home from school and she would be passed in her bedroom after a night of binging, overtaken by the food coma. While I have never been overweight (at least by health standards) in my entire life, I can’t help but feel like my subsequent twisted relationship with food is her fault.

    I am fighting like hell to etablish a healthy relationship with food, no longer because I don’t want to “end up like her”, but more because I am now happily married and DO NOT want my daughters to have the same issues with food as we did.

    *As a note my mom has lost over 150 pounds from a clean diet (sans sugar and flour) and has a whole new lease on life!

    Very timely post…

  32. erin says:

    I would ask my mom, “Were you ever ashamed of my weight?” I hope the answer would be no, but I don’t know. My mom is tall and thin, and I have NEVER been, and I have often wondered if she wishes I looked more like my brother, who IS tall and thin.

  33. Laura says:

    You are awesome Miz.
    I’d love to have reacted as you did about the belly compliment I fear I would have grabbed a towel and said yuck.

    I would ask my mother why she didn’t walk the walk but criticized my eating habits all the time.

    I would ask my mother for her advice on how not to do what she did I would ask her what she would do differently if she could!

  34. Dawn says:

    I think this would be a great book for me to read. I remember when my daughter was 4 yrs old and waking up at 5am in the morning to find her sitting in the recliner with a spoon and the 1/2 gallon of ice cream. I remember feeling so terrible that I had done this to her. I had taught her to eat in private. I’d like to think in the past few years I’m changing that. I see her picking apples over junk and water over sugary drinks so I think I’m doing something right. But she’s so beautiful and I want her to learn to feel good about herself no matter what. This post sure made me think.

  35. POD says:

    Miz, your post is beautifully written.

    I’d ask my mom (and have asked) why she treated me like all my brothers and sisters, when I was the child born with an illness. and in turn neglected to show concern for the illness with which I was born which set up years and years of ignorance, avoidance and anger with which I’ve spent a lot of time as an adult trying to accept, learn, and grow to treat that illness and not punish my mom or myself too much. Dammit. grrrh

    But I could always narrow down that question to “why did you hide the goddam cookies!?!??!”

  36. farmwife says:

    I remember when my mother had abdominal surgery right before her death in 2000 that the surgeon said she had 7-8 INCHES of fat that he had to cut through. I was rubbing my stomach where my daughter was kicking at the time and he says to me “Are you having sympathy pains?” I replied no, my unborn baby is kicking me! He was shocked that I was pregnant and not just fat! I guess because my mother was obese, he just assumed I was too? Gee, I would have thought a surgeon could tell the difference, but anyhow…

    I don’t know what I would ask my mother. I guess what happened? She was relatively active and fairly normal weight until her late 30′s and then just gained and gained.

    As a mother of dark and hairy girls myself — you let them shave when they ask. Because if they are asking — the other kids have noticed their leg hair and commented on it. I asked my oldest when she started shaving (cause I couldn’t remember!) and she said 6-7th grade. Of course, she’s always been a tomboy — I think my 8 yr old will want to do it sooner.

  37. Lainie (Fit Fig) says:

    My mom (who was overweight my whole life until a couple years ago when she finally got down to an ideal weight) never gave me lip about my own weight until my first pregnancy when she lamented my weight gain constantly. When I was a teenager she encouraged me to recognize how slender and perfect I was (though I didn’t until looking back I could kick myself for not realizing she was right). She even used to say things like “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” while trying to get me to wear shorter skirts (she denies this now).

    I still had a punch to the stomach just reading the title “You’d be so pretty if…” because she did use that in reference to my crooked teeth and overbite. She often said “You’d be so pretty if your teeth were fixed.” They never got fixed back then because my parents were poor teachers in a rural area-not easy to take their youngest child to and from an expensive orthodontist. Now at age 34 I finally have braces and my teeth are already perfectly straight under the braces.

    Anyway, to answer the question; I’d ask her what the heck changed that allowed her to finally drop all that weight after years of clinging to it. That almost seems like a question I could reasonably ask but I won’t because I’m afraid it had something to do with my beloved stepfather dying. She didn’t really lose the weight until after he was gone.

  38. Rose says:

    My mother was never that hard on me (that I remember anyway) about my weight. I was a very overweight pre-teen, and I often wonder if she was embarrassed of me? Because she and my dad were divorced, and I was living with my dad - she often blamed my weight gain on him (she’s told me this later in life). I often want to ask - why didn’t you step in if you were concerned? Perhaps I could have reached my healthy weight in a better way than I did.

  39. Myra says:

    Hi Miz,
    I guess there’s not going to be a happy medium here. My mother lives with my 12 year old daughter and myself. My mother is a very old 77. She’s just been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and can hardly walk, but won’t go to a dr for that. I have struggled with weight my whole life. Now just having turned 50, I am realizing that time passes no matter what you do. My husband died at 37. I didn’t. My 12 year old loves her body. I do too. She is helping me. She loves my body and all of its flaws. I love my mother and am happy to take care of her, but I have to make sure I don’t end up in her situation. Even my daughter supports my search for a gym I can afford, and healthy food to nourish my body. I won’t ask my mother, but I’m sad for her that she didnt’ take the time to think about herself. My strong and beautiful daughter deserves a strong and beautiful mother.

  40. Paige says:

    I would (and have) ask my mom “How do you not understand that weight loss is a difficult process for me?”

    My mother is a very petite woman - 4ft 9in and never goes over 115. Growing up she NEVER criticized my weight and ALWAYS had healthy food available - as I was always a bigger girl. Once I got into college, though, a switch happened and she sees nothing wrong with saying “You’re getting fat.” I respect the bluntness of her statements, but at the same time wished she realized that I try really hard.

  41. KJ says:

    Having started my weight-loss/healthy eating journey in March, I went home at Easter to hear comments like . . .

    “Your Dad will be happy you’re doing something - he’s been really worried.” (Mind you, he’s overweight too.)

    “The way to really lose it quickly is to cut out carbs.” (Said immediately after I had told her I’d lost 15 lbs in March by drinking more water, controlling portion size, and exercising.)

    “Are you sure you don’t want some pie? Ice cream, then? Not even cookies???” (Offered FIVE times at one meal before I could get her to accept that no means no!)

    I would ask my mother why she complains about my weight constantly, yet prepares enough food for an army when she cooks, insists everyone have seconds, and serves dessert at every meal.

    Also - why she let my brother convince me I was fat when I was 5’7″ and 140 lbs in high school.

    Sorry, I sound bitter, but my mother & my weight/self-image is a VERY touchy topic.

  42. Dara Chadwick says:

    Miz, thank you for giving my book such a thoughtful read and for sharing your own reflections!

    I’m really touched by all the honesty and stories being shared here.

  43. Gayle says:

    I started the book last night (I having two daughters and a raging ED though I am EXTREMELY CAREFUL with my words).

    As for my mother, I come from a “fat” family where my mother and all of her sisters were obese. Honestly, in those times (60s and 70s) it wasn’t a huge negative deal. It just was what it was. If only that were true today *sigh*.

  44. Kelly says:

    My mom has always been VERY supportive of me (” you can do anything you put your mind to”) but also very “observant” of my posture, clothes, weight…everything. I love her to death but she has no self respect and lets people walk all over her including my dad. My dad says terrible things to her. I would like to know how/when she started to let people walk all over her and why she doesn’t stand up for herself and say “no” from time to time. Why does she let my dad treat her like that and why does she raise my brother’s kids while he is out having a good time. It’s hard to lean on someone for support who can’t even support herself.

  45. Mara @ What's For Dinner? says:

    As fabulous as my mom is now, growing up I had (and hell, still have) a warped body image. She had major body image issues, eating issues, etc. and projected them on me. When I was 12, I was 4’7″ and weighed about 70 lbs. and thought I was fat. I’d love to ask my mom why she didn’t teach me back then to love who I was… and why treats were so restricted that I felt I had to sneak them

  46. Allison says:

    I would ask my mother why she never suggested that I was OK just the way I was. I was never overweight in high school and I got quite thin my freshman year in college, but I still wanted to diet and she never told me I was just fine the way I was or that exercise was better than dieting (although she clearly knew it). Of course the starving myself led to binging and she just enver stepped in.

  47. Alyssa says:

    Lovely post.
    I want to call you out though Miz.

    I would love to hear more about if you ever struggle with body loathing?

    Do you ever have negative thoughts like that?

  48. carolinebee says:

    I’m just in shock and complete awe and so empathetic to all of the comments. Looks like we’re not alone (suprise!) My mom had a rough childhood, foster child, and has struggled with her own eating and body image. Honestly, I have lots of questions, but I know that she feels so guilty for not taking care of herself and being a healthy role model for me. I like the unread-letter idea, I wouldn’t want to cause her more pain, but that’s a nice stepping stone to move forward to healing :D

  49. Meredith says:

    So many compelling comments to read.
    I don’t know that I want to look backward at my stuff.
    I would love a tip post, Miz.

    How I can not duplicate in my children how I feel.

    You seem so normal.

  50. Leslie says:

    Hi Miz,

    This is a difficult question for me, as my mother passed away 11 years ago of complications from Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure at the age of 68. She never went to a doctor and was proud of it - her diabetes was diagnosed after she stubbed her little toe, it turned black, and my dad made her show it to his doctor when she had taken him there for a visit. She went to the hospital then, and didn’t leave for 10 months. It was determined while she was there that at some point, she had had a heart attack but was never treated; hence the CHF.

    So I guess what I would ask my mom would be “Why didn’t you take better care of yourself?” I know that doesn’t quite fit with the topic (although I heard that awful phrase from my mom as well), but this is just what came to mind. Thanks for listening.

  51. Melany says:

    This post really made me think about my mom and her weight issues. She’s struggled her adult life (after having 5 kids)… but was a thin child and young adult… however, her mother was always VERY critical of her appearance and still is. I never quite thought about the connection. My mom has always been very supportive and complimentary of how we (my sisters and I) look - but never quite comfortable or happy in her own body. I would love to ask her how she thinks some things in her life may have been different if her relationship with her mom were different - or if she had been able to just be happy with her own body and care for it like she should. Hmmm…

  52. Becky says:

    Ohhhh Miz, this is a GREAT one! I think about this ALL THE TIME! I had an eating disorder for many years and my mom had all kinds of body issues and weird eating behaviors. I’m not kidding when I say that I am literally terrified that somehow my kids will end up with body issues and an unhealthy relationship with food.

    My mom and I don’t have a great relationship, we really never have. But if I had to, I would ask her if she knew she was projecting her body issues and insecurities onto me?
    Because I wonder if she was even aware of how damaging it was to watch her eat in secret and restrict and then binge. And I see now that the comments she made, like “you could live off the fat of the land for awhile” were maybe her own thoughts about herself. And her fear of not wanting me to be heavy and have to deal with the same insecurities. I wonder if she knew how she really only made it worse. I don’t blame her, obviously. But it’s something that weighs heavily on me all the time.
    I’m getting married next year and the talk of kids has become more and more frequent, so I know that these issues are just around the corner. Am I healthy enough now? Am I strong enough to deal with baby weight in a constructive and health way? Can I teach my kids how to love and accept themselves, even if sometimes I struggle with loving and accepting myself?
    I love commenting here and I never ask to win anything but seriously, Miz, I NEED this book! :-)

    Thanks for this. I’m so relieved to know that I’m not the only one who thinks about this…

  53. Meg says:

    My mother was always thin, athletic. Until she got MS. I think that any body image issues she has, have developed since then. The only way she ever communicated any negative body image to me was through the criticism of my laziness. That I wasn’t getting up and moving enough. If I had to ask her one thing, i don’t know what I’d ask. Conversations with my mother are long and winding…just the way I like them…

  54. Tara says:

    Canada here so I can’t win ;(

    I wanted to share that in your video when you said that your daughter would be enough just being who she is I cried a little.

    That’s all I ever wanted.

  55. Sandwiched says:

    I think I’d ask my mom, if she had it to do all over again, what would she change about what she taught us with regards to body image, weight and self-acceptance.

    I remember she tried to pay me a dollar a pound to lose weight when I was in 4th grade. Only 10! As an adult, I get what she was trying to do, but I also remember the feelings of despair and rejection, that there was something terribly WRONG with me.

    If she had it to do over again, would she? Now that she’s got 14 cardiac stents and is headed for kidney dialysis, would she choose to model healthy behavior, or just reach for the Dexatrim?

    And, Lord, please don’t let me screw up my 8- and 5-year-old girls the way I was screwed up. Please?

  56. deb says:

    I can’t say I’d ask my mother anything about weight or body image. I don’t recall these being issues for her. (it strikes me that I grew up in a generation just before the whole fascination with body image.)

    I must however read this book. Realizing my own see-saw view on body image, pride, vanity, etc. has had me examining my own head way too much lately.

  57. Holly says:

    I would love to read this book. My mom has been overweight her whole life, and vowed to raise my 2 sisters and I differently so we would enjoy eating (her grandmother often made snide remarks about her weight…then consoled her by treating her to ice cream. hmmm).

    Unfortunately, my sister and I developed eating disorders. NOT to the fault of my mom, but I just find it ironic? So - I would ask my mom, if you could change anything about our upbringing and our attitudes about food as kids - would you?

  58. debby says:

    My mom was an excellent mom in so many ways. She did the very best she knew how at age 20!! But our family was/is pretty victorian and I really can’t think of a question I would like to ask her. I guess I would say that her discomfort with MY body may have led to my discomfort with my body. Hmmm, never thought of that before. Reading this book could be helpful.

  59. Bag lLady says:

    Gee, I must have blocked all the things my mother did to screw me up. (I’m screwed up, though, so it had to have been her fault!)

  60. Twix says:

    Legs? Mine failed to tell me anything. Yet I learned about shaving from some girl I was going to school with. Except she never told me how it was done. So I taught myself at 12 with my dad’s razors (after their divorce) and no shaving cream…as I had no clue. For the longest time, well into my twenties, I dry shaved. I showed my daughter last year and left it up to her if she wanted to. She was 12.

    If my mom could get to a point where she wasn’t in denial or in full defense mode I’d ask her, as we still have a relationship. I’d want to know why all the competition? Why she was so threatened by me? And why is it still that way? Why she didn’t protect me more?

  61. Merry says:

    My mother somehow slipped up. She never gave me any issues about my body weight. My evil sister, on the other hand, more than made up for this. There’s always someone ready and waiting with the negative stuff.

  62. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) says:

    Oh man, I’m really gonna have to read this book. I feel like my upbringing with the mama was a massive case of “do as I say, not as I do.” I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t on a diet or “watching” something or other, though she never really tried to impose anything on me. Still, how could I not absorb her behaviors? If she was counting Points in order not to overeat, shouldn’t I do the same? I was never criticized, but I heard her opinion of the few times I’ve been slightly heavier - after the fact. And yet now that I’m in the best shape of my life, I barely get a hello before she gives me the up-and-down look and tells me how thin I am. I think it must be envy of the fact that I’ve achieved a level of fitness and health that she wasn’t ever able to maintain, and I can understand that. Still, even though I’m her flesh and blood, we’re still our own persons and if I’ve learned anything about a healthy lifestyle, it is that success comes in different forms for each person, and comparing one to another is most likely not constructive. She seems settled into seniority and the body that comes with it at this point, but if I had the balls I might ask her if there isn’t something about that that still bothers her, and if that is why she fixates on my own weight these days. Is she worried that I have a secret bad behavior? And then there’s a whole other can of worms that is my obese sister…now my wheels are a’turnin’! Unfortunately, it’s such a touchy subject in my family that it doesn’t come up much except in a peripheral way amongst us. Now I’m thinking my mom probably has a lot more turmoil on this issue than I even know about.

    That turned into a vent - please excuse. :)

  63. DaDivaStreet says:

    I would ask her why she put me down because of my weight instead of building me up. I am thankful that I saw myself in a positive way in spite of her comments.

  64. Alyssa says:

    I guess I would ask her when she finally stopped obsessing about her weight. (I think it was just a couple of years ago, in her late 60′s, when she was hospitalized with a blood clot).
    I hope my daughter will always love her body as much as she does now! (And i hope the same for my son!)

  65. tfh says:

    I loved the clip of Dara and Faith on the Today show- awesome!- and am so eager to read this book (and I don’t even have a daughter, or weight issues from mom).

    I can’t really fault either of my parents for how they approached the topic of weight for themselves or their kids. I did go on a “diet” with my best friend, whose mom was on a constant diet and very vocal about her displeasure with her looks. I think if my mom had any understanding of eating disorders she could have talked to me about this. Maybe I’ll get her the book before she has grandkids. ;)

  66. Heather in MO says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book.

    My question to my mom: “How can I help you learn to start liking yourself, even a little?”

    Because her insecurity and unhappiness doesn’t just “rub off” on me, but will someday affect my daughter (as my grandmother’s insecurities affected me).

  67. lee (getting fit) says:

    Some things my mom did well, like giving us fruit juice to drink instead of koolaid. Other things, like lots of Cambell’s soup & frozen fish sticks, uh, not so well. But as with everything else, I just think “She did the best she could.”

  68. Emily says:

    I can’t imagine the book being any better than these comments.

    I pray I can be a good rolemodel mother if I ever have daughters.

  69. Fat[free]Me says:

    It sounds like a great book and I hope it speaks to fathers/sons as well.

  70. Rachel says:

    This is awesome! I’ve just written a post about my mom and body image issues, so this is all very topical for me.

    I guess I’d ask… I hope this isn’t a cop-out, but I’d ask her what’s the one most important thing that *she’s* learned in all her years about body image - one piece of advice that she’d give to a daughter, a niece, a friend.

  71. Jennifer says:

    This is a tough one. As my mother is still struggling with these issues herself, and all of the medical issues that come along as we get older if we are overweight, I don’t think I have a question for her. Instead I think I would have to say to her, “Mom, it’s ok. You didn’t know. Yes, some of the things you did/said and some of the things you didn’t do/didn’t say really hurt me. But you know what? I’m a grown up now, and while it wold be really nice to just lay it all on you, it’s too late for that and I have to figure it out on my own. Maybe my figuring it all out will help you, too. I hope so. Love you Mom.”

  72. Miz says:

    again, thanks to you ALL for sharing & commenting.
    As a mom who still feels like a newbiemama some days Im learning a lot.

  73. The Crazy Woman Inside Me says:

    I’m so glad you did this review. I’ve “met” the author on Twitter and had seen info about her book, which did sound interesting. I can definitely see where it would be valuable in dealing w/mother-daughter body image issues.

    BTW, MizFit, many thanks for your wonderful, supportive comment on my blog post yesterday. I truly appreciate it. :-)


  74. Elisabeth says:

    I’ve always had questions for my mom in this regard. My questions mainly stem from the fact that I suffered from an eating disorder for 15 years, and I still wonder if my mother ever had an eating disorder. I have memories as a little girl, and I’m not sure if they are fabricated childhood distortions, or if they’re real. I guess I just don’t want to open a can of worms.

    Daughters are very affected by the images that their mothers portray. My mother’s favorite sayings revolved around “I’m fat”, or “I feel fat”, or “I look fat”. As an adult, it just makes me sad now that she always felt that way, and she chronically spent (spends) her life on a “diet”.

    It’d be great to win the free copy =), but I’m going to read this book regardless!

  75. MizFit says:

    Elisabeth. your comment so made me remember an interview I saw once with a mom/daughter duo where the daughter was struggling so with her body image.


    and the daughter kept responding:


    the mom was shocked. she’d not thought of it that way before.

  76. Pubsgal says:

    Like many have said, it’s not just the mom’s influence that contributes to eating disorders. In my case, I think the food=love/lack of food=lack of love was learned through withholding step-mom and dad sneaking me food treats to “make up” for her lack of affection. (And inadvertently reinforced on weekend visits to my mom, where there was plenty of both.)

    That said, in my teen years, when I was living with my mom, she worried about me getting fat. I didn’t realize until later that she had severe eating disorders herself: anorexic in college, underweight after, extreme in her eating habits, and a user of cigarettes and coffee to stay thin. Figuring out about her eating disorders was an “ah-ha” moment for me: She was absolutely terrified of getting fat herself. I’d probably ask her why she was so frightened of this. (Somehow, I don’t suspect it had anything to do with obesity-related health issues….)

    A lot has been said about overhearing one’s parent talk in a self-loathing way about their own body. How they react to others can also be distressing. I remember my mom always expressing extreme disgust when she saw an obese person, which I always thought was rude and unfeeling. When I became morbidly obese as an adult, she never said those things to me, but it really made me doubt that she sincerely loved me. *sigh*…being a mom-person myself now, I do realize it was more about her own fears; with respect to me, that I would suffer in some way from being fat.

    Whew, what a topic! Now, how best to help my own kids be healthy and strong, in mind and body and spirit?

  77. Isela says:

    Wow, great topic and sounds like a great book too.

    I seriously don’t have anything special to ask my Mom…she liked me the way I was and I was thankful that whenever I put on the extra poundage (after having babies) her pointing out that I could benefit from going a few laps around the track. At the time, I may not have appreciated it, however, there is only way way to tackle a problem and that is head on and she felt that she was the only one that could tell me. I am thankful she did and hope that she will continue to do so as I get older.

  78. jen boda says:

    This is a great book. I have cried so many times while reading it. Thanks for the profile. Body image is such a complicated thing in our culture. You are lucky to get out unscathed.


  79. Mary Meps says:

    Body image cues come from so many places. I know I did not truly see *myself* as I was when I was younger. I still don’t. It comes down to be comfortable with who I am and being *unapologetically me* as you like to say.

    My mom did always used to say I could be anything I wanted to be. I’m grateful she didn’t stymie my ideas of myself that way. There was still a lot of male/female stuff going on when I was growing up.

  80. lisa says:

    i’d have to ask her..Did you not teach us healthy eating because you didn’t know how to or couldn’t afford or..what?


    why didn’t you teach us how to cook so we didn’t have to rely on fast food for so long? you’re an awesome cook!

    p.s. i’m not U.S. but wanted to chime in anyway, thanks for the book recommendation- its now on my list:)


  81. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    WOW! A powerful post! My mother is no longer alive but I know she struggled with her self image, body & self acceptance. She was both mentally & physically abused by her mother so the fact that she even came out as good as she did is amazing. She did pass on some image, self acceptance, body image issues to me BUT with all she went thru as a kid, I am amazed it was not worse. I guess I would ask her if all of the above issues stemmed from the abuse or was it more & tell her to never feel bad about anything she thought she passed on to us in terms of the body & self image stuff. Jeez. I don’t know if I would come out that good if I went thru that!

    Although my 3 stepchildren did not live with us, I do think I might have passed on some of my own issues BUT thank god they came out good! 2 of those kids now have children of their own & this would be a great book for them!

  82. Maggie says:

    Question for my mom - what would she change about her past actions? She passed on her issues to me, but I don’t think she wanted to. And I’m pretty sure she got them from my grandma. So if she could do over anything in the past, what would it be? Would it be catching her eating disorder early and treating it? Would it be catching mine before it got bad? Would it be to not talk about dieting? Or not exercising obsessively?

  83. Joy says:

    I don’t have any idea what I’d ask my mother. Her body image is so wrapped up in the relationship with her mother that any question would probably be seen as a personal attack.

    My mom often reminds me how lucky I was that she didn’t constantly criticize my weight, or encourage me to obsess about every little thing I ate, the way her mother did. She’s been telling me that since she bought my first training bra. According to her, I shouldn’t have any body image issues.

    Of course, to this day she has no idea how messed up that message became when mixed with her never ending 10-20 pound weight swings, each accompanied by the latest low carb, grapefruit, cleansing, or cabbage soup diets.

    Your Mother’s Day message was magnificent, MizFit. What I want my daughter to take into the rest of her life is that healthy and strong is beautiful. DD should find an activity she’s good at and enjoys, and then get out there and kick butt… .

  84. Sarah M. says:

    So important Carla, and something I work on every day of my life. My mom used to spend hours straightening her hair and putting on makeup. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve seen her without it. Im sure it influenced me as I now abuse my flat iron daily. But I am learning to LET GO of the idea of conventional beauty, let my hair go curly and go out without makeup. In turn, Gracie and Livy are watching me be comfortable with myself, and I’ve even seen my mom let up on herself a little as a result. I guess I’d ask my mom why she never just loved herself the way she is. She IS beautiful, regardless.

  85. MizFit says:

    Whew, what a topic! Now, how best to help my own kids be healthy and strong, in mind and body and spirit?

    I know. That has been on my mind all day and, as with all things, Im not certain there is one answer.

    Thanks again to all of you for sharing.
    Im so honored.

  86. Deborah says:

    I think you may be correct that there is no one answer—-Id love to try and find one.
    Will you address this again?

  87. Kudret says:

    I’d ask “Mother, when will you let go of this perfectionist monster that forces you to constantly feel unhappy with your body despite how capable you are, and instead be ready to embrace the body you ACTUALLY have.”

  88. P.O.M. says:

    Loving this topic and would LOVE that book (to read myself then share with my sis who has 2 little girls).

    I would ask my mom when she gave up (on her health, on being a mom, on trying to happy, etc). And why? And how can we help her get it back.

  89. Natalia Burleson says:

    Oh, wow. Maybe there is a reason I came late to the party today! Cause that question, this subject, is like opening a can of worms. My mom passed over 10 years ago and as you may know from my blog there are issues in that relationship that will never be resolved. My mother was left for another woman. She was told by my father that she wasn’t good enough and that he left because she was fat, first, alcoholic second. I don’t think that I would ask her anything. I would love to be able to give her a big hug and tell her that she was beautiful just the way she was and that she was enough!

    Sorry with mothers day just passed, my emotions are running a bit high. Some years better than others.

    I think that these days it’s not just about women and our body image, our boys are starting to go through this too.

    I am learning to love myself and be nicer to myself as I am right now, because I want him to know that he’s OK as he is!

    Sounds like a great read!

  90. Sarah says:

    I just realized recently how much my grandmother taught me about self confidence. Today, I realized my parents gave me the tools to live a healthy life.

    I’d ask my mother:

    What did your mother teach you about self-love?

  91. Alyssa says:

    Hey, there are 2 Alyssas here! Just wanted to point that out. It wasn’t a common name when I was growing up, and it was constantly mis-pronounced.

  92. Kara from MamaSweat says:

    I’m out of lurkdom because as the mother of THREE daughters, I want this book. But I’ll buy it if I don’t win it. What to ask my mom? Why did you make me get on that scale?

  93. Runeatrepeat says:

    I wouldn’t want to ask her anything, but I would want to tell her I think she’s beautiful :)
    My mom has had body image issues her whole life and I know she made a huge effort not to pass them on to me.

  94. Valerie says:

    Buying the book. No question about it.

    You know, I don’t think I’d actually ask my mother anything. I know that the way I was allowed to eat during childhood and adolescence has been the major factor in my weight - and, more importantly, health - problems. But I also know why she raised me that way. And I’ve got nothing as far as her contributing to my body-image issues, because all my mother ever told me was that I was beautiful, no matter what - and she did that because more than anything, she’s always wanted me to be happy. She couldn’t stand for me not to be - still can’t. My concluding that I was fat and ugly really came from things outside the home - my absurdly skinny-ass friends who were nonetheless always calling themselves fat, TV, magazines, the whole nine yards.

    I know Mom was always trying to lose weight, so maybe to some extent I did follow her example, to the extent that I just assumed dieting was what women DID. But she was never self-critical in my presence and I certainly never perceived her as hating her own body, whether she did or not. She and my Dad were very affectionate and he always told her how beautiful she was…which was an amazing example to me of a healthy, loving relationship, and I’m pretty blessed to have a similar one with my own husband.

    Now, I do know the ideal thing would have been for her to teach me real healthy eating - but 35 years ago, who even knew what that was? And I can’t fault her for trying to make me happy, even if that wasn’t always the right choice. It’s hard to fault love…

    I’m sure my daughters will have lots of issues with me, though. We all try to do our best…and none of us ever quite make perfection. And I cannot WAIT to read this book, because it’s an issue I think about a LOT.


  95. Valerie says:

    Still reading. There’s so much here…

    Just now realizing that I’m going to have to be hyper-attentive to my daughters’ interactions with their grandmothers. I wouldn’t have thought of that as an issue - I grew up without my grandmothers, so it’s not something I have personal experience with - but now that I think of it, DH’s mom is very much like a lot of the moms/grandmothers described here - won’t hesitate to say “you’ve put on weight, what’s the matter with you?” or “why have you let yourself go, you used to be so pretty”. I know she’s said things like that to me in the past, and I’ve always blown them off because I know how negative she can be and don’t honestly much care what she thinks of me - but I think I’ll have to smack her if she starts saying things like that to my daughters. EVER.

    Tact is not her strong area. Tolerance of insensitivity is not mine.


  96. Laura N says:

    Thank you for the book review. I haven’t heard of her book (I do remember reading some of her articles in Shape), & it’s definitely a subject that touches my heart. I’ll be heading over to Amazon to buy a copy now….

    Hope you are well!

  97. Lisa @ Losing Lisa says:

    I love my parents. They are flawed as am I. Looking back as I was growing up, I see how my weight was affecgted by their behavior and parenting skills. As young as 8, my dad was commenting on my tires of fat in my belly. At that time I was not fat. But the seeds of faliur were planted. As I approached my teen years… I weighed about 125. Again my dad would comment on my belly ( which was none exsistent) Lisa… you have a little gut there… you are starting to get chubby!

    Of course you beleive your parents… So I starved myself… and stayed around 125 give or take. I did not want to get chubby.

    Well… where was my mom in all this. She was silent. Why? Beats me. I can spin the story to make them look bad and make me look great. My mom would actually encourage me to eat more… maybe to get some weight on… as she was going through her mid life crisis and losing weight to attract attention from other men.

    She was able to lose enough weight to fit in MY clothes. I hated her for that.

    I blame the dysfunction of my parents on their upbringing. My dad was raised in an orphanage from the age of 7. My mom was the last of 14 kids. Did they get the necessary love in their life?
    Did they get the attention they needed? I doubt it.

    I would seek solace and love in sugar. Frosting, Cookies,, anything. Sugar would make me feel better. After Iwas married… I gained weight. about 100 pounds.

    I guess I showed my dad.

    So… I have worked through some of these issues. The past is the past. Bitter…. sure. But… it is what it is.

  98. moonduster (Becky) says:

    I’d ask her why she puts up with my dad putting her weight down so much (especially as he, himself, is morbidly obese and she is only slightly overweight).

    I remember buying her a beautiful dress for her birthday. She tried it on and looked fabulous in it. My dad’s comment on it was, “That’ll look really pretty on you once you’ve lost some weight.” I could have killed him for that statement at that moment.

    My dad is a great guy, but he seems to have blinders on when it comes to REAL beauty.


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