The term “almond mom” has been making waves on social media. While plenty of women and girls from nearly every generation have had fun sharing stories of their own “almond moms,” the jokes are masking a seriously harmful parenting habit. Here’s what an “almond mom” is, how to tell if you have one, and how to not become one yourself.
Yolanda Hadid Is The Original ‘Almond Mom’
Yolanda Hadid has had an immensely successful career. The Netherlands native was an internationally sought-after model in the ’80s, she appeared on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for three straight seasons, and she’s mother to two of the most famous models in the world: Gigi and Bella Hadid. However, a TikTok compilation recently shed light on the reality TV star’s controversial methods of supervising her daughters’ diets.
In the very first clip, Gigi tells her mother over the phone, “I’m feeling really weak. I had like half an almond.” Instead of advising her daughter to seek out a full, well-balanced meal, she advises Gigi to “have a couple of almonds and chew them really well.”
The compilation offered plenty of other incidents where Yolanda gave questionable dieting advice. For example, Yolanda stopped Gigi from having a slice of cake on her birthday. She also told her daughter not to play volleyball because it makes women’s bodies “big and bulky.” However, the almond clip perfectly encapsulates an unhealthy parenting tendency, giving way to the term “almond mom.”
Childhood Obesity Expert Weighs In
The term “almond mom” refers to mothers who teach their daughters to obsessively watch their weight and often teeter on unhealthy methods of doing so. However, you don’t have to be a supermodel to know the effects of “almond mothering.” Speaking to Today, pediatrician and childhood obesity expert Dr. Karla Lester says “almond moms” are all too common.
”The almond mom phenomenon is rooted in fatphobia and internalized bias,” Lester explained. “She projects her own fears onto her children and in doing so, teaches them that she doesn’t accept them unless they’re at a weight that may be unattainable.”
Gen Z is drawing attention to the pattern, however, plenty of women from all generations are sure to recognize their own mothers in these stories. As @kimfromnc shared on TikTok, “almond moms” were often the norm for Gen X kids.
“My mom is a boomer, and I am Gen X, I am over the age of 50. I do not remember a time that I wasn’t aware of the ‘value’ of different foods when it came to calories,” she began the video.
She went on to explain how her mom only let her have dessert on special occasions. She would also question her food choices, and tell her things like, “You’re bored, you’re not hungry.” The TikTok user even added that she’s trying to break the cycle with her son. “When we know better, we do better,” she noted.
How To Break The ‘Almond Mom’ Cycle
The overarching consensus is that mothers develop this “almond mom” persona not to shame their daughters, but to protect them from the stigma that surrounds women’s bodies. It’s the frame of thought that if their daughter looks healthy, then they’ll both be safe from judgment.
However, experts are advising parents to separate these concerns. Parents should help their children develop healthy eating habits, but their child’s physical looks should never be the primary concern.
“As a parent, you want to help your child understand their body as one of their coolest, most interesting tools that they have for moving through the world,” Dr. Debrah Gilboa explained to Today. “It allows them to do the things they enjoy doing like dancing and running. And in order for it to work best, it needs a balance of different fuels, including fruits and vegetables.”
At the end of the day, our “almond moms” still love us, and they’re often products of their own mothers. It’s in our hands to break the pattern for the next generation.