Zosia Mamet on How Her Mom's Body Image Issues Hurt Her Own
"When I was hungry, her first response was, 'Are you sure?' I dreaded shopping. My mother would say to me, 'Zosia, let's look in the husky section.'"
Zosia Mamet has struggled with body image issues for as long as she can remember, and in a new personal essay, the 28-year-old Girls actress explained that her obsession grew from her mother's own struggle.
In her latest "My Zo-Called Life" column for Glamour, Mamet reflected on what is was like to grow up with a mom (actress Lindsay Crouse) who constantly worried over her weight, and projected her own insecurities onto her daughter. Mamet developed an intense jealousy of her mother's flat stomach and lean, dancer's body, and prayed to grow up to have a figure like hers. That experience through Mamet's childhood was part of the reason she developed an eating disorder, she said.
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"When I was growing up, my mother was always on some sort of diet, and everything I was fed was nonfat or sugar free," she remembered. "When I was hungry, her first response was, 'Are you sure?' I dreaded shopping. My mother would say to me, 'Zosia, let's look in the husky section.'"
Mamet knows that she is not alone. "In this day and age, yes, many things contribute to a woman's body image—but research has shown that a girl's mother is perhaps the biggest factor," she wrote. "A girl whose body is criticized by her mother is more likely to dislike her body or engage in disordered eating. If her mother tells her she should eat less, same thing. Furthermore, a girl who sees her mother dieting or obsessing over her own weight is more likely to be unhappy with her body. The apple, the tree."
But Mamet took care to clarify that she doesn't fault her mom: "I want to be clear: I AM NOT BLAMING MY MOTHER FOR MY EATING DISORDER. More so, I empathize. I know that my mother's treatment of me stemmed from her own issues with her body. She struggled, so I struggled. But I did struggle."
Now Mamet urges other women who grew up with similar influences to forgive and forget (our mothers were human, she points out), and instead, rewrite the script inside your own head: "When we look in the mirror, we can think of what we would say to ourselves at 12. I would tell my younger self she's beautiful just the way she is. I hope my mom is telling herself the same thing."