A Mom Who Weighs 82 Pounds Realizes the Impact It Has on Her Son | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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LEIGH: My name is Leigh and I am 38 years old. I've been married for 11 years. I have two children. I'm five-six, my weight now is roughly 82 pounds. It's been up--the highest it's ever-- to 127 and the lowest being 78. WINFREY: Leigh started losing weight after her first husband left her. LEIGH: Just gradually kept going down. People started to notice, and at first, people were like, `Oh, you've lost weight, you know, you look really good.' And I guess I kind of kept taking it further and further. WINFREY: For 13 years, Leigh has been obsessed with her scale, sometimes weighing herself 12 times a day. LEIGH: It's going to freak me out because it's more than I weigh with no clothes on. It was 80 before I drank any coffee or anything. It's funny, it's because it--you always look at, like, this number, 80, 90, 100. Once you've gone below it, you don't want to go back over it. WINFREY: Even though Leigh weighs less than an average 10-year-old girl, she just sees fat. LEIGH: I could probably tell you now, honestly, maybe my arms--my arms are too skinny. But I never will ever say my abs are, you know, my stomach is too thin. Of course, I know I've had two babies and I try to be realistic that there's going to be some loose skin, but, you know, it just always feels like it's just like really, really huge to me right there. WINFREY: Leigh is so tiny, she has to shop in the children's section. LEIGH: It's kind of just a--it's just a weird, almost sometimes sickening kind of feeling, thinking that I'm having to buy children's clothes, especially thinking about having a child who's, you know, almost as big as me now, and I don't want to be this way forever. I just want to be normal again. WINFREY: Leigh used to work out two hours a day, but now 20 minutes is all her weak body can take. LEIGH: Anorexia has taken so much from me, because, you know, I'm so focused on it, my children I feel like have been denied a lot from me. My husband has obviously been denied a lot of love over the years. It's just--basically, it's consumed everything. I mean, it's stolen me. It's robbed me of just about every bit of happiness that I could have had over the past 13 years. BENTON: I wish my mom could play longer with me. Because of her energy loss, she sometimes just doesn't feel like doing anything. I feel kind of sad because my dad usually gets on to her because she doesn't eat enough. And he always says, `If you put on about 30 more pounds, I would be happy.' I feel a little sad for her because I know she can't put on 30 more pounds because she doesn't eat enough. At supper, she usually eats way before us. Sometimes I would like to prepare supper for her so that she can eat a little more. When my mom and dad are in the arguments, and I'm still awake, I get pretty scared when my dad yells, and my mom usually just says, `This is the way I want it.' She asks me sometimes if she needs to gain a little more weight, so she knows that I'm thinking about it. Usually I don't ask her because I don't know if it will hurt her feelings or not. Telling her that she needs gain a little more weight, that she needs play with us more, if I asked her that, well, she would probably say, `I'm doing the best I can.' LEIGH: I guess they understand more than you think, don't they? WINFREY: Indeed they do. I have to tell you, that's about one of the saddest things I ever heard. It's about one of the saddest things I've ever heard, and I heard a lot. And I think this is really great, though, I think it's great, because for every single parent who's watching this, regardless of what your disease of choice is, what your disorder of choice is, what your imbalance of choice is, you are hiding nothing from your children. You are hiding nothing. They take it all in. They take it all in. And you see your nine-year-old boy already taking on your stuff, taking on responsibility for you. Saying, being able to express verbally, that he feels sad. Can you imagine what he goes through, what he has felt? LEIGH: No. WINFREY: Yeah. You're changing the possibility of who he could be in the world. You are--you are changing that. You are altering. And I know you care about your children and you love your children, but you are damaging them daily. Your self-hatred is damaging them daily. You see that now, don't you? LEIGH: I see that now. You know... WINFREY: Oh--and it's deeper than that. That's just a, you know, a minute and a half conversation. LEIGH: It's horrible. I don't-- I don't want to ruin him. Yeah, I don't want to ruin him, he's a wonderful child. Both my children are. WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well... LEIGH: They deserve so much more. WINFREY: Yeah. You deserve so much more.

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