On Friday night, ABC newsmagazine 20/20 profiled 47-year-old Sue Harootunian, a 47-year-old mom of three who, like an increasing number of women, began succumbing to a long-dormant eating disorder well into adulthood (at her lowest, she carried a mere 80 pounds on her 5-foot, 4-inch frame.) According to 20/20, women over the age of 35 are falling victim to eating disorders like never before (20% of the patients at the rehab center in which Sue got well were over 35). The reasons are many, but if the stories of women like Sue and Meg Cramer — Cramer's husband penned a piece in the new Glamour about his wife's illness and how he "simulated" anorexia for a week in order to understand her illness better — are any indication, emotionally-empty, passionless marriages are a large part of the problem. But what no one really talks about? How a mother's eating disorder affects her children, particularly her daughters. A clip of Sue and her doctor, above.
I think issues with weight can definitely be picked up by daughters from mothers. For instance, my mother was always very overweight. Part of her problem was genetics, part of it was having 3 children and part of it was our family not really being able to afford to eat well. I remember her dieting, trying all kinds of diets, her whole life. I also remember as children, my dad being the one who usually took us swimming or out on the beach while she stayed inside. My father would joke that she was just being a "stick in the mud" and it wasn't until I got older that I realized she was too embarrassed to be seen out in a bathing suit. Because of all that, I'm absolutely terrified of getting fat and while I don't have an eating disorder, I'm pretty obsessed with my weight and being thin. I don't blame her, but that upbringing definitely plays a part in my behavior.