So my mother is a concern troll

How depressing, that when I tried to give my own mother a bit of a lead in to what it means to accept your body, accept your fat and actually love  yourself without dieting or stressing over parts of your body, this is one of the phrases I got in return instead:

“Please don’t get angry about this email and start sending me tons of links to sites that try and disclaim what I have believed in my whole life.”

I know.  It is hard to think about loving yourself, going against the grain and forgiving your body for fat that it might accumulate.  But to stick your head in the sand, fingers in your ears, screaming “LA LAH, I can’t HEAR you!” in the face of science, studies, masses of anecdotal evidence even,  is just downright silly.  Come on.  If you want to think that doing Weight Watchers again (which is where the conversation started) is going to do anything more than swing you back on that cycle of Lost Weight GLEE – Regained Weight Doldrums; by all means be my guest.  We’re both adults here.  But for the love of all you find holy, stop acting like you can not be wrong simply because you have BELIEVED in something all your life!!!!

So I won’t send info or links, because apparently citing sources is just a way to force someone to pull their head out of the sand.  And that, as we all know, is Just Not Done.

Oh, and the best part is that she wants to know, if the writers at Shapely Prose (where I sent her for a lot of the reading) are “So Proud” of how overweight they are, then why are their avatars only skinny?  There simply is no pleasing everyone!

*le sigh*

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19 thoughts on “So my mother is a concern troll

  1. Their avatars? The little drawings? I really never thought of them as…skinny. But also, they aren’t snorting pig-faces, and we all know that’s what “real” fat people look like. *Eye-roll*

  2. You know, people are so weird about FA. I talked with a very enlightened dietitian the other day and she’s totally on board with HAES, etc. But when the topic of FA came up, she actually said that she had a problem with FA because they believed that you *had* to be fat to be happy. FTW?!? Um, no. More like, you get to be happy, even if you’re fat. Or skinny. Or whatever!

  3. I think what is most disgruntling about the entire thing is that she doesn’t think I understand where SHE is coming from. As if I didn’t grow up under her roof, living her diets, being an appendage to every self-image crisis she ever had; as though I have no concept of the desire to be thinner in this society! Are you kidding? I LIVED IT my entire life! But she doesn’t know why we can’t see eye to eye on this; by which she means she doesn’t understand why I don’t want to applaud her joining WW for the bajillionth time when it is so OBVIOUS that I should do the same! *sigh*

  4. Oh, and the best part is that she wants to know, if the writers at Shapely Prose (where I sent her for a lot of the reading) are “So Proud” of how overweight they are, then why are their avatars only skinny? There simply is no pleasing everyone!

    OMFG we get this all the time and it is so hilarious. A) We are actually not two-dimensional cartoons, so take the drawings with, you know, a grain of salt. B) We’re not all fat at the moment. Gasp! C) Not all fat people are fat in the same ways. People with fat asses can have “thin” faces! People with round faces can have thin bodies! It’s almost like there’s an incredibly diverse range of human bodies or something.

  5. “It’s almost like there’s an incredibly diverse range of human bodies or something.”

    But SM, that’s just not possible. I mean, didn’t God make us all in HIS image? He must have had only ONE image to go by right? I mean, all of us are the same carbon copy…of…one another….awww damn. There goes that logic too…

  6. Oh gawd this is brilliant!
    My weight has fluctuated a healthy 20 pounds up and down my entire adult life….and when I am at the high end of the spectrum my mother will sit me down all worried about my “health” and when I am the lower end of the spectrum (ie: thinner than her) she sits me down and warns me about eating disorders.
    We live on opposite coasts now and I find myself rehearsing over and over my “you don’t have a vote on my body” talk for when i move back there.

  7. Ugh. Sorry about this. My dad is the concern troll, and my uncle (who’s always been thin, though he was temporarily chubby as a preteen before a growth spurt, so yanno, he “lost” the weight and knows everything about permanent weight loss).

    My dad was on some South Jenny Weight Beach UltraSlim or another a couple of years ago, and he starved and smoked (yes, he took up smoking to lose the weight) himself to near-guantness. He was gleeful, boasting, disgustingly vain, always talking about exactly how much and when he ate. (btw, he was only drinking water, eating two apples, having one salad with grilled chicken, and eating celery with this disgusting black bean dip as his entire day’s food. You can tell he talked to me about it a lot, right? lol)

    Now he’s in the regain doldrums, and he’s dropping all these self-hating hints in emails, over the phone, and over Facebook. He said he regained the weight from being “lazy and not eating the right foods.” He’s a stay-at-home dad of two little girls who run around the house all day, he’s extremely active in tons of clubs, and active in general. That’s lazy? Or does weight gain automatically mean you’re lazy, even if you’re obviously not?

    So I’m used to this. I’ve tried to gently educate him from time to time, but he’s an adult and he’ll do what he wants. He just can’t expect me to want to be around him when he’s hating on himself, or for me to have a conversation with him about *my* appearance, etc.

    I think you might just want to make weight an “off-limits” topic. Let her know you don’t want to talk about it anymore, in any context, and that there are plenty of other things to talk about. I had to do this with my dad RE: politics already, and it’s worked fairly well. 🙂

    Good luck!

  8. April, I think your mom is one of those people who can’t perceive fat as anything but double chins, big thighs, big bellies, large chests, and large arms. That we all have one specific shape and our fat is evenly proportioned and distributed.

    Concern trolls, especially those that constantly fail at diets, can’t seem to grasp that there are people out there who don’t only know they’re fat, but just don’t care and do what’s best for them at their size. My mom used to be a concern troll until I told her I didn’t want to hear it anymore and that if I’m still here with no major health problems, I must be doing something right.

  9. bigliberty I feel your pain about your dad, and I’ve already had to make politics off limits on this end so I think weight is going right in that group too.

    “Or does weight gain automatically mean you’re lazy, even if you’re obviously not?”

    I think you might have hit on something huge here because the prevailing unquestioned belief is that if someone gains weight, the bad habits of over-eating and under-moving are AUTOMATICALLY assigned as the “why”. It plays into the whole Liar Liar Pants on Fire thing; if you’re on a diet too and it stops working well then you MUST be cheating or slacking! It couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything at ALL to do with the fact that diets. don’t. work.

    So yeah, I think mother and I have pretty much sighed ourselves blue in the face and decided to agree to disagree….

  10. Did you come to fat acceptance because you were tired of the status quo and came looking for alternatives?

    Did you come to it because you stumbled across the idea and mulled it over for awhile before deciding that this was something that could improve your life?

    Did you come to it because someone was concerned about your dieting and sent you a bunch of links with evidence why you should try this fat acceptance thing?

    Not everybody who is exposed to fat acceptance and isn’t ready to grab hold of it is being a concern troll when they ask a question that really is a valid one within the context of our current cultural norms.

    Just about everybody who wants to change people’s minds so badly that they get mad when they can’t spam them with links to studies and supporting evidence is.

    I know that you care about your mom and want to help her, but people change their minds when they are ready to change them, not when they are innundated with supporting evidence for a viewpoint that is diametrically opposed to their lifelong beliefs.

    Give her a chance to mull it over and think about it. Two years ago, my mom was taking diet pills and avoiding food. This year, she is beginning to enjoy food openly. She still isn’t into the whole fat acceptance thing, but she’s seen me growing stronger, healthier, and happier and beginning to pick up on the fact that we don’t have to be ashamed of our weight in order to build better lives for ourselves the way American media is constantly telling us that we have to.

    She’s not a horse you’re trying to lead to water. She’s someone who loves you, who isn’t ready to embrace beliefs that have helped you. She may never be ready because people don’t just believe something one day and believe something else the next. Are you going to love her anyway or mourn her idiocy until you can’t stand to be around her?

  11. twilight, thanks for the alternative view and this is by no means something that will drive us apart. But it is just another thing we’ll have to put in the “do not discuss” box because, as my grandmother would likely have said, we’re both too bull-headed to listen to each other!

  12. twilightriver, I realize that the motivations of a “concern troll” (trying to get a rise out of the folks on a discussion board / blog while pretending to be concerned) is often not the same as that of a relative or a friend (who may ACTUALLY care about you).

    At the same time, who cares about motivation if they both have the same affect one one’s blood pressure, sanity, and well-being?

    Frankly I took April’s depiction of her mother as a concern troll as a joke. 🙂

  13. I think it’s funny that she said “try and disclaim” instead of “to” – of course I am aware that many people use this phrase, but then, doesn’t it sort of imply that those sites actually succeed at their disclaiming attempts? 😀

  14. Living400lbs,

    Had the mail come unsolicated as an attempt to get April to change her mind, I would have been on board with her use of the term “concern troll.”

    However, since her mother was responding to a message that April sent with the request that April not send more, I’m finding it hard to see how April feels trolled by that since her mother was not trying to change her mind, but was simply asking April to not try to change hers.

    If her mother was criticizing her belief in Fat Acceptance, it wasn’t clear in what she wrote. If her mother was being confrontational, it wasn’t clear in the details that were given. In what April wrote, it looks very much like April is upset that her mother won’t do the research April wishes she would and won’t consider the ideas that April tried to introduce her to. I understand that April cares and thinks her mother would benefit from her viewpoint, but we cannot make change their minds for their own good anymore than they can change ours.

    Also, since her mother is not familiar with fat acceptance, the question about the size of the avatars on Shapely Prose is valid because they don’t fit into some people’s ideas of what fat looks like. Without the context of those people’s stories and how those avatars came to be, someone isn’t going to automatically understand that people who look like that have experienced fat discrimination.

    The first time I saw a picture of Kate Harding, I felt utterly deceived and betrayed because she’s nothing like the visual references for fat that I grew up with. It took some time to get to know her story before I understood where she was coming from.

    Her mom might take the time to learn the stories and figure it out. She might not. Her refusal to change her mind does not make her a troll. If she’s being confrontational or aggressive about it, then I would certainly call that trolling, but I saw no evidence of that in the story as it was written.

    I saw one person trying to introduce another person to a new idea and being angry when that person was not receptive to the new idea.

    April, I’m sympathize with how you feel because your mom isn’t receptive to Fat Acceptance. I’m sad that she doesn’t want to familiarize herself with ideas that would probably improve her experience of this life. However, she has the right to make that choice and ask you to respect it by not sending her more information. There is nothing trollish about setting a personal boundary even if it’s a “head in the sand” boundary.

    I hope that you’ll be able to find some peace with all of this. If your mom does become confrontational, I will write in to fully support your right to set personal boundaries to stop that behavior. I will even give advice because I have experience with that too.

    I’m sorry that I appeared bull-headed to your way of understanding in my response to what you wrote. That was not my intention.

    I’ll drop the subject now, but thank you for inspiring two new posts to my blog. I promise that they are intended as musings on the subects in this thread and not as personal messages to you. I said what I wanted to say directly to you in this space and let my mind wander in my own space.

  15. twilight and others batting ideas around, I did want to clear up that this was indeed a response from my mother to an email I sent to her explaining my long pauses and silences whenever she brings up Weight Watchers and her newly re-signed membership.

    What I found humorously “trollish” was that her comments that I didn’t post were all Fat Hate Bingo key phrases down to a tee; and yet THOSE didn’t make me as upset as the idea that she didn’t understand why we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye and yet didn’t want me to try to explain where I was coming from. THAT was what baffled me most.

    As my mother and I have agreed, we are both adults and make the choices that make us both happy. She has just as much right to worry about my “health” in the guise of weight as I do to worry about her “health” in response to repetitions of dieting in that the truth is neither one of us can really affect the other’s decisions on more than a very limited surface level.

    And you’re right twilight, perhaps my biggest problem is that she DOESN’T want to consider ideas that I find to be very central to my own mental well-being right now. Maybe that makes ME the troll in her eyes because I refuse to join her newly restarted diet bandwagon parade or because I am in her eyes trying to piss on her hopes of This Time Being Different. Maybe not.

    All I can say is that even if I don’t agree with someone’s point of view, I still read what they send and try to form my own ideas. I find the entire concept of “Stop sending me proof of what you believe” to be frustrating and really that is more a cause of the conversation block that she is complaining about on the very topic.

    Wow. Almost a new post as a response. Sorry about that 🙂

    Again, thanks for all the ideas and perspectives as I do appreciate them. It has, if nothing else, given me a bit more of a shake to realize that these things DO take time and I’m being naive if I think I will just send a person a link and Ta-dah! change their world-view. But you can’t blame a girl for her fantasies, right? 😉

  16. I totally get where you’re coming from April, though my mom is a bit backwards in thought from yours. My mom has long resigned herself to being fat, however she has not accepted the fact that I am fat and don’t care about it. Her latest way of telling me she’s concerned about my health is to tell me in great detail about a weight loss show she loves on Lifetime. She is convinced that if I watch this show I will become inspired and magically become the thin daughter she’s always dreamed of and trade in my dweeby white boyfriend for a Nice Jewish Boy.

    Ha. Like that will ever happen.

  17. April, I feel you on this. I’ve been slowly attempting to introduce my mother to the concept of fat acceptance (or at least basic respect, i.e., “Stop assuming every fatty you see in Walmart is a lazy, Little Debbie-snarfing moron”). My initial attempts have been met with either deafening silence and a change of subject, or outright hostility chock full of “But EVERYONE KNOWS” mentality. She hasn’t gone so far as to ask me to stop sending her links and stuff, but it’s obvious she would prefer it if I would stop bringing up FA in response to her berating herself for falling off the Atkins wagon again.

    Maybe it does make me a concern troll if I keep sending my mom unsolicited FA info, especially when it’s not directly in response to diet talk from her. But I feel like there’s a difference between saying, “Hey, here’s some info on something I find really fascinating and feel pretty passionately about, thought you might like to see where I’m coming from,” and “You know you’re just deluding yourself by thinking you can diet that fat ass away, right?” But twilightriver makes some thoughtful points that make me wonder if both approaches look exactly the same to people like my mom. I just hope it’s possible to bridge that communication gap and introduce new information without seeming preachy, confrontational, or concern-trollish. If my mom wants to diet until she’s 80, that’s her choice, but I’d like her to understand why I don’t, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    • Kitty L that is pretty close to where I’m coming from. I hate that a topic such as health has to be such a huge converstion block right now and wonder if some time thinking will yield any good ideas as to how to approach the topic in a way that leaves us BOTH feeling safe and without a need to raise our defensive ideological hackles 🙂

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