Everyone has Mommy Issues, and yet we never, ever talk about them
‘Should you really be eating that?’
We're familiar with daddy issues. It's been a trope since the dawn of time. And despite joking about them, we also know they can be quite serious.
But daddy issues aren't the only issues that'll spill into your adult life wreaking havoc on your prematurely anxiety-riddled soul, because you definitely have mommy issues, and you didn't even know.
Mommy issues won't only affect the way you perceive relationships as you grow older, they're more all encompassing than that. Mommy issues will do one worse: They'll affect the way you perceive yourself.
Relationship and sex shaming
For many mothers, judgment comes in the form of relationship shaming — the most taboo of all.
By nature, sex is hyper-personal and sometimes even weird to talk about with friends, but moms will nag you when you're not seeing someone, saying "none of their friends' daughters" are single, and then embarrass you when you say you are having sex.
"I'm fucked up," Eleanor, 24, told me, saying every time she tries to talk to her mom about sex she becomes judgmental, and adding that it's made talking with guys about it "almost impossible" — a dangerous side effect of tiptoeing around the subject.
"I once forgot a condom wrapper in the room where my boyfriend and I used to hook up," she said, "and when my mom and I got in a fight about something random, she brought it up in a 'This is what i have against you' way."
When sex is used as a punishment, or a way to shame, something that's supposed to be intimate and loving turns into something you fear. And in fearing sex, you begin to fear asking about it, learning about it, or worse, talking to someone about it when something goes wrong.
In many ways, mothers perceive their daughters as threats: Their looks, weight, youth, material possessions, accomplishments, education and even their relationship with her father could put a strain on things.
But, if you've already internalized a "not good enough" feeling — something most girls have — it wouldn't make sense that anyone would be jealous, so you blame it on yourself.
"My dad ditched me when I was a kid and my mom never lets me forget it, Lia, 23, told me, explaining that even though she's grown a thick skin, she sees people posting photos with their mothers and sometimes blames herself.
"I feel like an orphan, but my mom is still alive and well."
You do your best to make sense of the situation at hand, but you eventually decide your mom must be right — you must be the issue.
"Are you sure? Why don't you at least try them on."
Food shaming is a simple as going with your mom to buy a pair of jeans, and having her suggest a 4 instead of the 8 or 10 you actually are — or commenting on her latest diet in front of you, or telling you all about her new gym membership, or suggesting you "come along" next time.
We live in a country where 40 percent of 9 and 10-year-old girls have dieted, and 78 percent of women feel bad about their bodies by the time they hit 17, but 9 and 10-year-olds don't have the brain power, or insight, to process the ramifications of overeating.
"My mom used to always tell me I had to be careful," Tylah, 20, told me, explaining that in return she became obsessed with calorie counting at a young age, constantly commenting on how her friends would eat.
"I'm 23 now, but it's stuck with me," she said, "I still do it even though I know it's wrong."
By 9 or 10 we've been in school for years, eaten in cafeterias with girls who have mocked our lunch, and liked boys who have mocked our size, but we didn't learn to shame people there, we learned it at home.
Eating disorders can be genetic, but they can also be learned.
Pushing their insecurities onto you
Moms are human, so of course they have insecurities — but you don't realize how many of them have been transferred onto you until you're older.
On top of weight shaming, moms will worry you about never getting into college, getting a job, getting married, or having kids. All of the anxieties they've experienced themselves — whether or not they eventually came to fruition — will become your burden.
"My mom is an anxious person, so she doesn't realize it but she's always putting me down," Meagan 20, says, explaining that her achievements never feel like "enough."
Because a mother's hope for some of the things she's wanted may be behind her now — she left her job to care for you, or didn't get to have the undergraduate experience you did — she'll attempt to fulfill them by helicoptor-ing, and living vicariously through you, instead.
"I feel like I've let her down," Meagan says of her mom, "even though I've accomplished more than I thought I was capable of at this age."
As you get older, your relationship with your parents naturally gets trickier, but it's blurrier with moms — they're supposed to be your friend, but it's often hard to tell where the line is.
They begin to resent you for things they see you doing, and instead try and convince themselves, by convincing you, that the choices they made for themselves were the right ones, even if it means insulting yours.
And because we're hardwired to need and seek proximity to our moms, even when we're dismissed, we end up coming back for more.