Mother, Daughter, and Roles

This post follows on from yesterday’s post, “Charity and Charly.” In August of 2017, it was reported that Charity had beef with the producers of “My 600-lb Life,” because they allowed the public narrative to hint at hanky-panky between her daughter Charly, and Charity’s much-younger fiance Tony, who also happens to be Charly’s uncle. She wrote about it on Facebook, where the account also contains before-and-after photos showing the results of Charity’s gastric bypass surgery, and encouraging posts that Charity addresses to herself.

Charity complained that the TV crew did not show the family members doing any of their many outdoor activities, but made them sit in the living room, and only included those scenes in the episode. Via social media, she admitted that she and Charly sometimes struggled to get along, but also had “many many great happy times.”

Charly, now a Certified Nursing Assistant and caregiver, also has a Facebook account
whose recent entries about toxic relationships and broken hearts are not reassuring. Only a year after Charly claimed, in an interview, to be in control of herself, journalist Nathan Francis wrote,

As Charity started losing weight, Charly started gaining more independence… But Charly soon saw a change of her own, following her mother’s overeating habits and starting to gain weight herself… Now Charly weighs more than her mother.

If, as Francis conveyed, “Charly was happy to be freed from the prison of her mother’s health,” why would the gloriously liberated younger woman be putting on pounds, which is generally understood as a distress signal?

The aftermath

During the time when her mother was losing weight, Charly was bulking up, closing in on the 400-pound mark. The picture on this page illustrates a fanciful notion as a metaphor with chilling implications. In the Dark Ages, when people accepted demons as real, they made assumptions about what would occur when a demon was expunged from a human.

It could not just fly back to Hell, but would have to move into a different body. A very superstitious person might imagine that the evil spirit expelled from the mother had taken up residence in the daughter. In the realm of clinical psychology, a similar notion would be expressed in different language.

Post-operatively, Charity’s course was miserable to experience, and psychologically painful to watch. Anyone considering bariatric surgery should be very well prepared, mentally and emotionally.

Even then the challenges are huge. Journalist Jeryl Lippe wrote,

Charity’s multiple skin surgeries caused massive complications. “Since I’ve lost so much weight, the excess skin on my stomach has been causing a lot of problems,” she said. “I’ve been getting a lot of cellulitis infections. I’ve had to go back to the hospital a couple of times in the past month to be treated, and it’s frustrating because it’s really hard to keep making progress with these complications. And my body is still really misshapen.”

Many viewers of the show wonder how, confronted every day with this very clear picture of her own future, Charly was not motivated to drastically change her own ways. With the blueprint of her mother’s life laid out before her as a warning, how is she so inescapably trapped?

Other questions arise, like, if Charly had not been raised by Charity, what would she look like and be like today? Would a properly-functioning Child Protective Services have intervened to place the child in a foster home? Is any of this relevant to the media-driven competition that, in some quarters, weight loss has become?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “My 600 lb Life Charity Pierce continues weight loss jourley with possible new surgery,”, 08/28/17
Source: “‘My 600-LB Life’ Charly Pictures: Can Charity’s Daughter Follow In Her Mother’s Footsteps And Lose Weight?,”, 05/17/17
Source: “Charity From ‘My 600-lb Life’ Has Shed More Than 500 Pounds,”, 09/13/17
Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images on Visualhunt/No known copyright restrictions

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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