"My Mom Calls Me Fat" Bodyshaming By Parents - A Damaging Reality?

Society often perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards and ideals of what constitutes an "ideal" body. Parents may unwittingly internalise these standards and project them onto their children, believing that they are offering constructive criticism.

Nikita Gupta
Sep 19, 2023 18:34 IST

Image Credits: The Everyday Magazine.

Childhood should be a time of innocence, nurturing, and self-discovery. The impact of childhood experiences can leave an indelible mark on our lives, shaping our self-esteem, self-image, and emotional well-being.  

Unfortunately, for some, childhood memories are marred by a painful and often unspoken reality of getting body-shamed by parents. 

Why Do Parents Body Shame?

Parenting is the wonderful journey of raising the next generation, filled with heartwarming moments, unconditional love, and, of course, the occasional need to body shame your flesh and blood. Because why should children be spared from the joys of low self-esteem and emotional trauma? I believe this is exactly how parents think when they decide to call their child fat.


A Reddit user shared, "My mom has subjected me to body shaming for as long as I can remember. She consistently makes hurtful remarks about my weight, and she's always been critical of the way I dress, discouraging me from wearing anything even slightly form-fitting, claiming it looks inappropriate on me."

Society often perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards and ideals of what constitutes an "ideal" body. Parents may unwittingly internalise these standards and project them onto their children, believing that they are offering constructive criticism.

The same Reddit user shared, "When my cousin got married whose wife is also on the heavier side, my mom  in front of a lot of relatives, said 'bhabhi bhi moti aur nanad bhi.' There was a brief pause before everyone burst into laughter. This was a breaking point for me."


Unlike the first user, another Reddit user shared her experience of being skinny-shamed by her mother. She said, "My mother often makes peculiar comments like, "If you don't gain some weight on your hips, how will you ever wear sarees?" I'm naturally on the shorter side, and I appear younger than my actual age due to my body type, which my mom disapproves of. She insists that I should overeat to put on more body mass."

Parents openly criticise their child's appearance through derogatory comments about weight, height, skin colour, or physical features. These comments can be blatant or subtly undermining. I guess, they are preparing their children for online trolls who criticize their appearance. They probably think it is helping their children develop thick skin. (Pun Intended)

What Comes After Body-Shaming?


Parental body shaming is a deeply damaging and pervasive issue that can have enduring consequences for children's self-esteem, self-image, and overall mental health. A distorted and negative body image can result from constant criticism, leading to unhealthy behaviours like extreme dieting or disordered eating.

A Reddit user sharing her experience with an eating disorder said, "My mom and dad are constantly saying that I need to lose weight because I don't fit my jeans anymore. I'm constantly being told that my butt is too big, I need to lose weight, I need to stop eating, and more recently, my dad has restricted my sweets and snacks." Furthermore, she said, "I am still grappling with an eating disorder, only managing to eat one meal a day. It's perplexing because I'm being told to eat less, yet I'm not eating enough to begin with."

Every Girl's Story


Sharing my personal experience on the subject. I was 21 and weighed 71 kg. I couldn't help it. I suffer from PCOS and the most known and common side-effect of the same is gaining weight. Apart from that, I was going through a difficult time in my life, so much so that I didn't attend my favourite cousin's Roka ceremony. My mental health was fucked and I didn't want to get out of bed. 

I remember I was home and so was my mother that day. In India, we have this sweet-cold ice cream like-delicacy called 'kulfi.' During summertime, we have a few vendors roaming in the streets to sell them. This day, I was about to get it when my mom remarked, 'Itni moti ho rahi hain, par kulfi khaani hain.' Soon after that, I joined the gym and to date think twice before eating kulfi.  

Jump to 2023, I am 49 kgs. My mother still comments on my body. Now its just, 'Haan, aur patli hoja, dikhna hi mat phir kisi ko.'


What I have not been able to understand to date is how a child's body is a battleground for his or her parents. What I have come to realise though is that parents want perfection without knowing what 'perfection' means to them. You lose weight, too skinny. You gain weight, too fat. It's impossible to please someone who has not found peace and satisfaction in themselves.

Long-Lasting Effects Of Body-Shaming

The effects of body shaming by parents on a child's physical, emotional, and psychological well-being are both significant and enduring. While parents think they are only pushing their children towards a better life, a child may end up with low self-esteem due to constant criticism and negative comments about their appearance.


Apart from that, body shaming can contribute to the development of mental health problems, including depression, and anxiety. I have been home for the past few months and gained a few kgs. I now don't have more than one meal a day and drink green tea twice. I am 53 kgs, perfectly healthy for my height.

How Can We Break The Cycle?

Breaking the cycle of body shaming is essential for the emotional well-being of the next generation. Breaking the cycle of parental body shaming is not just an act of love; it's an investment in the emotional well-being of future generations. By fostering self-love, acceptance, and open communication, parents can empower their children to embrace their bodies and develop a healthy sense of self-worth.

For once, if I ever have children, open and honest communication will be encouraged with the lesson to celebrate their uniqueness and talents, emphasising that beauty comes in various forms.

So, to all the parents out there, let's leave the sarcasm behind and focus on raising confident, resilient, and emotionally healthy children who can take on the world with their heads held high. After all, there's enough negativity in the world without parents adding to it. 

Views expressed by the author are their own.

Suggested Reading: Politics of Body-Shaming: Why Are Women Constricted To Fitting In?

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