Tuesday, April 12, 2016


In my mother’s house, prejudice was not allowed. Everyone was welcome, no matter your color, creed, gender, sexual preference, sexual identity, religion… Many, many took refuge and found haven and solace in our home’s open doors.

Well, actually, there remained one “small” area  where prejudice was accepted. My mother hated fat.  First and foremost, she hated fat on herself.  She was always on some kind of diet. Mom used to make my sister take food away from her and throw it out, so she wouldn’t eat it. When she was dying and wasting away, the doctor begged her to eat more, to eat sugar, to have salt to retain water, to try; my mother flatly refused – she loved being skinny.

Funny how much it meant to her, considering everything else she achieved. My mother was brilliant, graduating high school at 15. She was also a brilliant pianist who attended Juilliard, paying her own way by teaching piano lessons, beginning when she was 12. By the time we kids came along, Mom had a huge following of advanced students who traveled from all around the country to study with her.

Everyone loved her, men adored her and yet, my mother ferociously hated every extra ounce of flesh she carried.  She also hated extra weight on others, including me.  She dragged young me from diet doctors to Weight Watchers to behavior modification specialists to diet centers. Together, we tried every diet we could find. (She always lost weight. Somehow, I always gained.)

Mom didn’t like fat on anyone. She took umbrage with celebrities who weren’t skinny – why did anyone think Diane Sawyer was pretty when she had wide hips (according to Mom)? I remember seeing James Earl Jones as Othello on Broadway. Evidently, she’d read he was on the same diet as she – she was very annoyed that he was still so big.  Mom was a woman who didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone – unless they were overweight.

Fat-ism is crazy strong, I think. All her life, my mother purposely chose to be and do everything the exact opposite of her mother. My grandmother was cruel, viciously racist, a serious gossip, completely domestic, disinterested in education, subservient to her husband…..

My mother consciously became the total and complete opposite of each of those traits.

However, my grandmother hated fat and fat people. That, my mother never changed.


  1. Wow. This is important. I have read that Fat is the one of the last remaining prejudices that has not been called into question. And you have a living experience with it. I think you should go into why your mother felt this way. Do you think it was her mother? Maybe that prejudice/hate was instilled in her and the others were not bc she saw the 'fat' or possibility for 'fat' in herself? Whereas she could'nt see the possibility for another race in herself. Do you think social pressure played a role? Even if you struggle to avoid this media brainwashing it is hard to resist bc it is so insidious. Then there is the whole fact that eating disorders may have a genetic component. So interesting that she could let go of other prejudice but not that one. I appreciate how self aware you are - to step out and look at your mother's actions without a lot of judgement but in a rational way. This is good, if you were planning on doing more with the topic I certainly support the idea!

  2. Thanks GG: Fat prejudice fascinates me. What is wrong with having a bigger body? What's wrong with taking up space? i agree that somehow someone else's weight scares us. Thank you for reading and writing. So appreciate it!!!!!!!

  3. I think there have been SOME shifts lately, but it's still a problem, and there's no question about that. It's no wonder you had so many issues with food and body image! Good for you for getting away from the thoughts that your mother and grandmother carried.

  4. E: those "thin" thoughts are so oppressive. I am glad to be in a whole different place now . life really wasn't much of a life when all i thought about was food and weight and eating and not eating and binging and starving...........that was IT for so long. such a waste... Glad that's done!!!!!!