"My 600-lb Life" looks at some of America's most obese people. But it's not a fat-shaming sideshow by any means. The TLC reality TV show explores the backstories and usually finds a trail of heart-break leading to morbid obesity. In every case, there is some enabling or bullying (or both) family member and Ashley's story may be the clearest example of that. Here's how Ashley lost 400 pounds in spite of an ostensibly supportive mom who was more dysfunctional than her obese daughter. 

Family dynamics and obesity

Shaming an obese person into losing weight doesn't work.

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If you didn't get that memo already, you will after watching Ashley's mother. The woman, who is morbidly obese herself, mocks her daughter all the while claiming to support her. She patronizes Ashley saying there will be no more "chips and pop" after Dr. Nowzaradan performs gastric bypass. Mom teases that her daughter won't be able to enjoy any goodies at Thanksgiving. She seems proud of herself for her clever fat-shaming and appears to find it funny that her daughter "is a mess" (her words). Yet mom takes no responsibility. 

Blame-shame game

So mom is correct when she says she didn't "make Ashley eat." But that doesn't mean she didn't make Ashley fat.

The blame-shame game parents like this play is a direct link to obesity, eating disorders and substance abuse. Kids who are routinely blame-shamed turn to food, drugs, alcohol and other self-soothers. That's where comfort eating comes from.

Parent "dry drunk" behavior

Ashley obviously has a food addiction but mom is an addict too. She's addicted to power, hypocrisy and judgmental self-righteousness. Parents like this are like dry drunks when they engage in cruel, hurtful behavior toward kids. They drive their children to comfort eating.

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Ironically mom is grossly overweight and should join Ashley in weight loss. "My 600-lb Life" Ashley D. is getting support from her husband and recovering drug addict mom. Yet the other Ashley's mom who supposedly wants what's best for her daughter makes it worse. 

How is Ashley doing?

She's says not too well, but watching her on the "Where are they now?" episode shows Ashley is being a little hard on herself. She didn't let mom's toxic behavior stop her and managed to lose over 400 pounds from 617 to 216.

And get the tissues ready as you read how Ashley paid kindness forward--she loved softball as a kid and coaches kids. She also loves children and is pursuing a degree in childcare. Ashley's moved out of her mom's house and has distanced herself from family dysfunction. That is probably the healthiest thing she could have done. She has gained weight back, but it hasn't slowed her down. If Ashley can ignore her mom's inner voice and start valuing her own awesomeness, she'll get back where she wants to be.