First you must start when she’s a little girl.
Let’s say she’s afraid to go to school and, for reasons that will be clear soon, afraid to say why — she’s afraid of the bullies that taunt her and make her cry. Then her father uses a switch on her bare legs (it’s the 1950s and girls must wear skirts to school) as he walks her up Main Street to the school. Another time when she says she doesn’t want to go, he allows her teacher to scream at her and shake her.
Well, then this little girl has nightmares (no surprise there, huh?) and calls out for her parents and gets her father with his belt.
As she grows she is bombarded by stories and movies that value the thin pretty heroine who gets everything she dreams of. She is not thin nor pretty, so she believes she won’t get anything.
She doesn’t get a bike because her parents are afraid that because she’s overweight, she won’t be able to ride it. Her sister gets a bike but every so often she “steals” it for a sneak ride.
She should not apply to any colleges because they “can’t afford to send both of you to college.” Her sister goes to college. She goes into a profession she never really wanted.
Her parents do not come to her very small, inexpensive wedding. Her sister has a big wedding with a reception.
She gets a night in a motel and an electric skillet from them for her wedding present. Her sister gets the title to a car she shared with the mother.
Her first husband, a closeted gay, says he married her because he thought “no one else would” and never touches her after their child is born (therefore “proving” he is not gay).
She works hard at the job she never wanted and becomes the major support of her family. She should feel valued, right? No. Her husband has beaten her a few times and broken crystal she loved; he goes out at least twice a week, stays out drinking to early morning as she lies in bed trying to hear his car return. And the times he beats her, just not very badly — no broken bones, no major bruising but enough to tell her she was “asking for it.”
She finds she has feelings for another man, never acts on them, but it gives her the courage to get a divorce. She is sole support because her now ex husband was told by a “friend” that if he moves to another state she can’t “get him” for child support. She works on giving her daughter contact with her father.
The divorce slims her and she finds that married men are the ones attracted to her.
The man she decides to marry, dies and some of the old weight (pounds and emotional) returns and she feels like she’s back to where she started, the little girl being switched up Main Street
She’s never felt valued — she’s always felt she was “not quite good enough.”
When she told a psychiatrist about her childhood, he says, “Did you tell anyone?” She answers, “It was the 1950s, there was no one to tell.”