What Is An Almond Mom? Inside The Tiktok Trend Unpacking Familial Disordered Eating

Depending on the side of TikTok you’re on, you may have come across the term “almond mom”. But what is an almond mom and what does it have to do with fatphobia, diet culture, and passing on disordered eating from one generation to the next?

The term was coined after Yolanda Hadid, mother of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid, released a video making light of criticisms about her parenting—in particular, the claim that she restricted her daughters’ access to food in abusive and unhealthy ways when they were growing up. Referring back to the original TikTok, which featured a clip from the Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills where Yolanda instructed her daughter Gigi to eat “a couple of almonds and chew them well” in response to Gigi telling her she felt “really weak,” Yolanda’s video showed her eating from a huge bowl of almonds while she engaged in various activities, accompanied by the caption, “worst mom ever.”

This seemingly cavalier response appears to make light of the accusations from Hadid’s daughter Bella about having an eating disorder as a teenager, born out of a disordered approach to food that included calorie-counting apps and an Adderall prescription when her anxiety and depression were mistaken for ADHD.

Although named after Hadid, this relationship to almonds and using them as a last-minute means to stave off dizziness and exhaustion was extremely common during the 90s and early aughts when so-called “heroin chic” was in vogue. Mainstream magazines, including ones aimed at teenage girls, gave similar advice, often treating hunger itself as a moral weakness. For many women and afab trans people who grew up at that time, this pressure to not just be thin but to rarely eat was compounded by mothers who bought into it wholeheartedly, internalizing the idea that they and their daughters needed to be as thin as possible, chasing an ideal body shape that was literally impossible to achieve for many of them.

An “almond mom” isn’t just obsessed with dieting or someone who makes the occasional comment on her daughter’s weight. Almond moms impose diet culture, along with all their own insecurities and desires, onto their children, equating thinness with health and worthiness. Food acquires a moral status, with denying yourself always occupying the top spot of the hierarchy, and pressure to engage in ritualistic verbal self-flagellation before eating anything more substantial than yogurt or, yes, a handful of almonds.

And for many almond moms, thinness, along with other aspects of their daughter’s appearance, becomes the only thing that matters.

Even for those who don’t impose it on their children, psychologists and dietitians say that modeling this behavior in front of them has a profound negative effect. Children look to their parents for cues on how to interact with the world around them, and so witnessing calorie-counting, obsessive concern with “good” and “bad” foods, extreme restriction, and negative self-talk all teach a child that this is normal and something they should adopt for themselves.

Women who grew up with this and aren’t willing to perpetuate it, either for themselves or their own children, are speaking up, and the term almond mom has become a useful phrase in their lexicon to identify a particularly harmful relationship with food, body image, and your children’s bodies.

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