real life

'My dad called me fat everyday of my childhood. Here's how it affected me.'

This post deals with emotional abuse and mentions eating disorders. It could be triggering for some readers.

My dad has called me fat my whole life. 

I'd like to pinpoint the moment where it first happened, but he has always called me fat. I don’t think he does it to be mean or unkind; I think he does it because he thinks I don't know or it's something that if he makes me aware of it, I'll fix it.

Of course, that's ridiculous, and the truth is, him calling me fat is rude and unkind and his intentions really don't change the fact that his words have done serious damage. But he is my dad and I love him, and I want to find a way to have a peaceful relationship with him, so that helps.

While you're here, do you wonder about the toxic people in your life? What if both of your parents are toxic? Post continues after video.

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I try to remember that he grew up in a time where being thin was incredibly heralded and I suppose he just thinks my life would be better if I was smaller; but sometimes, I think it's also his own vanity and having a thin daughter would make him feel better.

My whole life he has commented on my weight from outright calling me "fat", to making comments about what I eat, to saying things like, "You know that's very fattening. Oh, I suppose you wouldn't care." 

It's the big stuff, the little stuff, and the passive aggressive stuff. 

It's the comments if I have an extra serving at dinner, or the joke about how "big" my jumper is when I'm visiting home and he is doing the laundry. It's just everything.

It's always made me feel not good enough, and even at my thinnest I've never been good enough. My father has never ever made a comment about my body that is positive. Hearing hurtful comments from your own dad doesn't give you the armour of confidence you need to navigate the harsh realities of the world.

It's meant I've spent so much of my late teens and early 20s looking for affirmation from other men, and lots of men. I just wanted for a man to tell me I was attractive and good enough, and if I wasn't getting it from my dad, I was going to get it from a guy that half lived in his van and half lived at his mum's. 


I have tried to speak to my dad about how his words have impacted me, but he replied with, "Well, not enough to make you lose weight". So, it has become clear there is no reasoning with him. I will never have a conversation with him that is going to make any of it better.

Listen to The Quicky where we dig into the psychology behind gaslighting and why people do it. Post continues after podcast.

I know some people would say that this is enough for you to cut him out of your life. You don't deserve negativity and cruelty, but he has other lovely qualities. He rings me to remind me to wear a jumper when it is cold; he is the only person in my life invested in the fact I have an ingrown toenail that hurts. He always tells me that all he wants is for me to be, "happy," (well, secretly he probably would love me to be happy and thin). But he has plenty of lovely dad traits.

I realise though that my dad's words have made it almost impossible for me to ever really love myself. To really feel good about myself, to ever really feel truly fabulous in my skin. How can they not? A person who is meant to love me the most just doesn't think I'm perfect, and that naturally makes me constantly feel imperfect.

It explains why I've battled with disordered eating in my adult life, why I've cried while looking in the mirror, while currently I've gained weight and I find myself wearing baggy clothing because I'm feeling ashamed of myself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I've done the work. I go to therapy. I embrace the body positivity movement. And if you looked at my social media, you'd think I was brave, bold, and comfortable in my skin. 

But truthfully I don't know if I ever will be.

I rally against the things my dad has made me feel about myself. I try to be kind to myself and I desperately hope one day I'll accept my body in the way my dad never could. Fingers crossed, I guess.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected]. You can also visit their website,  here.

Feature Image: Getty.