When I was in high school I was skinny. I never thought anything of it. My friends and I ate ice cream by the gallon after school. I subsisted on bottomless plates of nachos and I lived for pizza dipped in ranch. Cheese was a staple and chicken fingers were a must have. I was a three-season athlete, but never a great athlete where I trained to the extremes. I was just naturally skinny.
My mom was always complaining about her weight. It was always an issue to her. Every single thing that entered her mouth she seemed to comment on. She subsisted on grapefruit and sugar free pudding packs – on a good day. She didn’t eat breakfast or dinner most days, just ate a “lunch,” one of which she was proud of herself for her. She walked miles a day in any weather for exercise, and when she didn’t, we all heard about it. When we caught up with old friends, the first thing that would come out of her mouth to me after they’d gone would be how one seemed skinnier or one seemed to have gain some weight. She was addicted to the topic.
It meant nothing to me then. I knew it wasn’t right, but she had always been like that. It worked for her.
And that’s when I learned that yes, it did work for her. So, when I went to college and stopped playing sports and indulged in late night pizza and one (six) too many beers, and I gained my freshman fifteen, it hit me hard. I didn’t see it coming. I always thought I was naturally skinny and would stay that way.
I remember the first time my parents came to visit. My mom made a comment on how different my face looked, how it was “rounder.” I knew what she meant. She didn’t even have to say it. That’s when I tried it. I tried to stop eating. I tried to eat a salad a day. I tried to eat some grilled fish and vegetables.
It worked for a little while, but I couldn’t stick with it. I felt myself failing. I was failing at dieting and the only thing that seemed worse than getting fat in the first place was failing and getting even fatter. I felt disgusting. I started writing a lot and I have since revisited what I wrote (this was a little over 4 years ago). I told myself that I was disgusting, that no one in this world would probably even want to look at me. I told myself that the only way to be happy was to be skinny.
All that went through my mind:
What am I going to eat when I get home? I shouldn’t eat. I’m probably going to eat. What should I eat? I wonder how many calories I’m burning walking. I wonder how many calories I ate earlier. My stomach jiggles so much when I walk. I wonder if that person thought I was fat. Of course they did – I am fat. Everyone thinks I’m fat. I wonder if I’m burning more calories because I’m thinking so much. What should I eat when I get back? Okay I’m back. Eat.
I eat. Then I think:
Shit – why did I eat? Now I’m going to be even fatter. Now people are going to think I look gross when I go out tonight. Oh great, I’m going out tonight which means I’ll eat/drink even more calories. Great, I definitely ate way too many calories today. I am disgusting. Everyone knows I’m disgusting. I can’t even look in the mirror right now.
I binge ate for weeks at a time. I starved myself for weeks at a time. I took laxatives so many times that I couldn’t stand the thought of eating because I would be in the bathroom within minutes. I tried puking so much by sticking my fingers down my throat and kept being continuously disappointed when not enough came out. I over-exercised, not leaving the gym until the machines said I had burned 1200 calories. I read every pro-ana blog on the internet and tried every stupid fad diet there was.
My mom didn’t teach me some of those things, but she taught me how to hate my body. She taught me that it wasn’t okay to be overweight.
I can’t look at food the same way anymore. It’s so strange to me that such a necessity to life can have such control over someone. I still think about every bite of food that enters my mouth. I still feel guilty every time I indulge in a sweet. I still binge eat more than I’d like to admit. I still think that maybe it’d be okay to just throw up from time to time or take a laxative or take a week off of eating. I still believe that being skinny is the most important thing. I don’t think it will ever go away.
I love my mom, but I don’t want to be like her in that way. I want this to go away, and I will never forgive her for the way that she has made me feel. When she looks at me, I think that all she sees is that her daughter is fat. The comments that she’s made over the years, everything that has happened, whether that is true or not, it feels like the truth.
The funniest thing – I’m not overweight at all. I’m 5’6” and 130 pounds. I know in my mind that that is average, but still, all I see is fat. She made me feel that. She taught me that not being skinny was being fat.