Every spring, my mother goes through a yearly ritual. She realizes she needs bathing suits, orders a bunch from Land’s End, and then goes to her room to try them on (usually with my sister and me in tow to voice opinions). Regardless of what she tries on, she will twist and turn to look at herself in the mirror, muttering a constant litany of “fat, fat, fat, fat, fat,” while she does so.
Of course, she never keeps the bathing suits (probably because she thinks they make her look fat), so she packs them up, sends them lovingly back to where they came from, and waits another year to start the cycle all over again. The same thing happens when she goes clothes shopping, when she gets dressed for a special occasion, and sometimes just because.
It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her she’s not that fat, how many times I point out that for a woman that’s nearing sixty, who’s always been curvier, who’s been through two pregnancies (one of which was with twins that were both over six pounds), and who has a bad leg that keeps her from serious exercise, she looks pretty damn good. It doesn’t matter that I like her exactly how she is, which is soft, and yes, a little squashy, and mom-shaped. When she looks in the mirror, she sees fat.