May 18, 2024

Diet Culture Is Making These Women Terrified To Have Daughters

Comments swarmed on clips of Gwyneth Paltrow’s interview on Twitter and Instagram, reading “her poor daughter” and  “I feel sorry for Apple [Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter] growing up in a house with no real food. ”

A quick search of “Gigi Hadid eating” on TikTok will reveal thousands of videos containing conspiracy theories in the comments, speculating that Yolanda purposely “passed on an eating disorder” to Gigi so she could model. Fans of the model have left comments like “This is definitely just to piss off Yolanda” on a video of Jimmy Fallon giving Gigi a burger to eat and “She forces her daughter not to eat so she can stay thin and profitable, disgusting”.

So-called almond moms, and the effects their views and behaviours have had on their children, have left a lot of people who struggle with food restriction and body image problems afraid to have children, especially daughters, in case the cycle continues.

There’s, unfortunately, some truth to this underlying anxiety. According to one study, children of women with eating disorders are more likely to develop an eating disorder than children of women without them. A 2015 review from Common Sense Media says that children age five to eight who think their moms are dissatisfied with their own bodies are likely to have those same ideas about their bodies. In the same review, one in four children is found to have tried dieting by age seven.

And according to the eating disorder charity Hope, the mother and daughter relationship is central in research on eating disorders and how they’re developed and treated. They note that mothers who speak negatively about their weight in front of their female children run a higher risk of their children having an eating disorder. What’s more, 50-80% of overall eating disorder risk is due to genetic effects.

Essentially, the way our mums spoke about their bodies in front of us, and the way we may speak to our children, or potential future children, really does have a profound effect on our development and the way we look at our bodies.

If anything, this speaks to how persistent, all-consuming and damaging toxic diet culture and body image issues have been, and continues to be, despite a recent, mass body positivity movement. Whether we are mothers, daughters, or just women, we all feel the deep-seated pain of diet culture and struggle to cut ourselves or our children free.

However, 25-year-old project manager Milly* believes her eating disorder could make her a better parent, in a way. “I’ve struggled with bulimia for years, and after a lot of hard inner work and therapy, I’ve learned that my eating disorder came from a need to control my situation when I felt unhappy in environments I didn’t think I could leave and to be able to cope properly,” she tells GLAMOUR.

“I think a lot about having daughters in the future because I’ve always wanted a girl, and so what comes with that is kind of looking at my own past as a child, teenager, young adult and thinking about how I would have wanted things to be different for me. That’s what I want to give her, she adds. ”

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