This year I will be a junior at a prestigious university that not only I attend but a university where I am a varsity swimmer and in a sorority. Between the stress of the school workload, the pressures to improve as an athlete and to make new friends I have gained about 20 pounds in the last two years. Some of that weight is muscle mass from increased weight training but much of it was from poor diet habits including stress eating. When I got home for the summer I was bombarded by my mother’s thoughts as to how badly I looked. Because I have always dealt with body issues and have considered myself the ‘bigger’ girl it was hard to hear from her what I already criticized about myself every day. It didn’t seem to matter to her that I had made the national team or swam well all year. While I have committed myself to lose enough weight to be comfortable in my own skin again, she seems to take it further mentioning ideal weights for me and suggesting I drop the swim team to be skinnier. How can I help her see that her criticisms not only hurt but take away every ounce of confidence that I have in my body for what it can do for me?
A. You need to have an honest talk with your mother about how she makes you feel. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she might be unaware of how her behavior impacts you.
If she continues to comment about your weight, even after you have a talk with her, then limit the time you spend with her. Should it come to that, make her aware of why you are choosing to limit your time with her. You might try this: “Mom, I love you but psychologically, it’s unhealthy for me to be in your presence when you constantly nag me about my weight. I am working hard to manage my weight but you are not helping. If you will not stop, then we will be spending less time together.”
If this problem remains unresolved, consider individual therapy. An individual therapist can gather more information about the relationship dynamic between you and your mother and advise you accordingly. Colleges typically offer free counseling services for their students. You might benefit from short-term therapy to address the concerns with your mother and your stress eating. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Aug 2013
Randle, K. (2013). Mother Excessively Criticizes My Weight. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/15/mother-excessively-criticizes-my-weight/