Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About my Niece's Weight

Just a warning. i talk about height and weight in this post.

My sister was telling me that my niece's weight is really an issue. Jessica, now 15, stands 5'4 and, my sister stage-whispered with horror, "must weigh 150.

My naturally skinny sister talked on and on about the tips she wants to give Jessica. (I'm sorry, but naturally skinny people don't get to give diet tips! i don't believe in diet tips, of course, but they're even worse coming from someone who's never dieted in her life)

of course, i worried about this all day. here's the letter i wrote my sister last night.

if it's possible, can you forget about the weight? i know it makes her unhappy, but if you can, don't add to that unhappiness. she'll find her way.

i thought i was the ugliest thing on earth because the family so valued slimness. i work with two zaftig women who think they're gorgeous. and they are. all the men chase them. and these women are 5'4 and about 170. i know, because they tell me. they're adorable.

if you can't live comfortably with her at 5'4 and 150, really think about that. she's healthy. she's wonderful. does it really matter how she looks? does she really look "bad"? does it matter to you?

we're a weird society. leave her alone and give some thought to why she feels the need to eat so much. is it anxiety? or...?

i would definetely not give suggestions based on how you do it.

what would happen if when she complained, you said, "jessuca, you're beautiful and you're healthy. if you're unhappy, let me know what i can do to help. but as long as you're healthy, you're weight isn't particularly important."

what IS important about jessica?

if this feels really hard, think about it. i was sure that you and mom loved me less because of my weight. i loathed myself. i wouldn't take that risk with jessica.

if this feels really hard, think about it.

just my opinion, but i feel pretty confident here. help jessica feel glorious at every weight. please


  1. Beautiful post. I wish there was a way to communicate that message to every 15-year-old. No, every teenager. No, everybody from age 10-90. Especially those in Hollywood.

  2. I think you did great! They need to hear that kind of thing.

  3. Julia is really lucky to have an aunt like you!

    Also, I don't know if people ever made a big deal about your sister's weight... but I was a naturally thin child, and no one would ever leave me alone about it. There was a lot of "You're so skinny" and similar comments. If your sister went through that, she probably has a hard time not thinking of weight when she thinks about herself, and maybe that spills over into the way the she thinks about her daughter -- though I am 100% with you that she needn't criticize her or give her "tips"!

    Seriously, someone should publish your letter... thanks for posting it :)

  4. What your niece needs from her mother is LOVE....not a lecture on losing weight at age 15! Life is harsh enough when you walk out the door and you need somewhere to go that is safe and that place SHOULD be home. It shouldn't be another place you go to be judged. If and when your neice wants to lose weight she will and should not be pushed by someone else to do it. Have your sister read Portia de Rossi's book and show her what a mother can push a young girl to. I think Portia's mother is partly responsible for that poor woman's thought processes......I'm sure that is not what your sister wishes for her daughter.

  5. Wow, I think you phrased that letter beautifully, I hope it helps and I'm sure it will :)

  6. Great letter. I hope your sister really takes something from it.

  7. VLL: Could you imagine if we could think like this? or if it started NOW with babies? ah, a girl can dream...

    Eating Alone: i was so nervous to send this to my sister, but my niece is too important. i pray my sis gets something from the letter

    kris; thank you and thank you so much for stopping by the blog. my sister loves being thin and fit, which works for her. she puts a lot of emphasis on her own appearance. i don't think she can understand the concept of not putting a lot of emphasis on appearance. i pray

    Jeannie; great points! i worry so about my niece. she's eating compulsively now, and i really wonder why. i do worry that she'll start starving. i hope my sister starts looking at what's underneathe the food. i'm going to visit them in March. want to spend lots of time with jess

    Lucy: the letter truly came right from the heart. i love my wonderful niece, who is so dear and sweet and funny and loving. she is such a whole person -- why, why, why does anyone care what she weighs on a scale?

    Linda; thank you. i really, really, really hope my sister takes something from it. she says she heard me and that it was wise, but her belief system is so ingrained. i'll keep talking and writing.

  8. I think that was written beautifully. These situations are always tough...