What to do when your Mum criticises your weight
Does your Mum criticise your weight or body?
If so, you aren’t alone.
But just because she’s your Mum and you love her, it doesn’t mean she can freely comment on your body whenever she likes!
So, in this post I share:
- The experience of clients with body critical mothers
- The real reason your Mum is critical of your body
- 3 ways to help you deal with your Mum’s critical comments
Listen or read below:
This is something that comes up a lot in coaching – what to do when your Mum criticises your weight or body.
This issue causes so much shame and upset. One client recently told me she feels like her Mum’s love and approval is dependent on her weight.
Feeling this way meant that she constantly pursued a body her Mum could be proud of. Working together, we explored ways she could manage the relationship with her Mum so she could stop wasting her life chasing her Mum’s idea of the perfect body!
So, if you have a mother who is critical of your weight or the way your body looks, what can you do? Well, I’ve got three tips to help you:
Know that when your Mum criticises your weight or body, it says more about her relationship with her OWN body than it does about you
Many of my clients grew up with mothers who struggled with their body image. They observed their mother dieting, obsessing about food or being critical of her body.
Some were put-on diets as children because of their Mum’s body insecurities.
Growing up in this kind of environment makes it difficult (although not impossible) to have a healthy relationship with your body.
But just because your Mum thinks that your weight or body is a ‘problem’, it doesn’t mean it is. It means she struggles with the way she feels about her own body and is projecting that onto you.
Set boundaries around body comments
Chances are, if your Mum has been critical of your body for most of your life, you’ve never challenged her about it, or thought to ask her to stop. BUT just because she is your mother, it doesn’t give her the right to constantly criticise your body, especially if you find it hurtful.
So, no matter how difficult or awkward it feels, as a first step to dealing with body criticism, you must tell your Mum how her comments make you feel and ask her to stop.
You might say something like, “Mum, I’d like to talk to you about something important. When you make comments about my weight, it makes me feel upset. I think you say these things because you want to help me, but it has the opposite effect. I’d like you to please stop making these comments. Do you understand what I’m asking?”
What to say when your Mum criticises your weight or body
This conversation may not be easy – there may be tears and defensiveness.
Be ready with some responses to what she says, which may be things like:
“I only comment about your body because I love you and want the best for you.”
In response to this you could say: “If you love and want the best for me, you’ll respect me when I tell you that it’s not okay to comment on my body.“
Or she might say “I can’t stand by and watch you get bigger and bigger.”
In response to this you could say: “It’s my body, so my rules. If your comments really helped me to lose weight, I’d have the perfect body by now.”
Or (and this is a big one!) she might say, “You’re being over-sensitive.” IF I had a £ or $ for every time I’ve heard this response!!
In response to this you could say: “I find the comments you make about my body hurtful and offensive, which is a perfectly valid reaction.”
Be prepared to reinforce your boundaries if your Mum continues to comment on your body. If your Mum has been criticising your body for years, it may take time for her to get out of the habit.
Take weight discussions off the table
Make it clear that you don’t want to talk about weight, diets, or bodies at all! This means, for example, not discussing your Mum’s latest diet or how much weight her best friend has put on.
Making your discussions body free is the safest way to ensure that a casual chat doesn’t degenerate into a triggering debate on weight.
If your Mum brings up the topic, politely remind her that you don’t want to talk about it. Or, if she persists, sometimes the best strategy is not to engage in the conversation until it fizzles out.
If you’ve been struggling to cope with your Mum criticising your body and weight, I know that it isn’t easy. While it’s harder to stand up to a parent when you’re a child, as an adult, you have every right to call your Mum out on comments that are hurtful.
Because so much of behaviour is habitual, your Mum may have no idea how upsetting her comments are to you. So be brave and tell her how you feel – the rest is up to her!
If you’re struggling with the way you feel about your body and need some help, why not book one of my FREE Body Confidence Break-Through Sessions.