I wish I was skinnier. Being thin is not enough. Skinny is not enough for me, I want to be skinnier.
I remember the first time that I started to feel conscious of the way my body looked. It was in Kindergarten.
Then I was skinny, and I remember going to my ballet and gymnastic classes and being proud of the way my body looked in a leotard as compared with the other girls in my class. I felt pretty and beautiful in my tiny five year old self.
But in the first grade, something happened. I became less thin, and I started to notice it, even though I couldn’t really understand it. I didn’t care then, but I soon would start to. I knew that I liked the way I looked less, though. But I wasn’t sure why. I can recall even then wanting to fit into the leotards and bodysuits that I had slightly outgrown.
Then in the second grade, I started to understand it. I was not the smallest girl in my dance classes, and I was starting to get less prominent parts as a result. I still couldn’t put it altogether in my mind until the third grade, though, when my mom and grandma said I could no longer eat ice cream after school on Wednesdays.
I learned what the nutritional facts meant and was constantly being instructed to count calories. I remember a babysitter getting a kick out of this after she wanted to make brownies with me. I agreed but promptly grabbed the box of mix from her hands and began reading the nutrition facts out loud to her.
“Wow these only have ten grams of fat!” I remember stating with excitement as the sitter laughed in disbelief.
By third grade my awkward phase had fully settled in and my ballet teachers encouraged my parents to put me on some kind of diet. They said I would get better parts. So my mom got my prescription diet pills and I was on that for a few months. A couple of other girls I danced with had them too. They didn’t seem to work though. At least not for me.
Luckily in the fourth grade I had a growth spurt, and evened out a bit. But I was still never that skinny. I was an early bloomer so puberty had started to set in fast, and while I was no longer awkward, I had curves for days.
In fact, I was such an early bloomer that by the seventh grade I had the same body I do now. Same pant and bra size even. I weighed 107 pounds and was 5’3 1’2. Petit, but curvy. Something I should have been happy about. But I wasn’t.
I was just never skinny enough. And after I quit dance I had gained a few more pounds. It was everything that I never hoped to be. I was soft and curvy, but I wanted to be hard and lean. I wanted to be breastless like the supermodels I saw in Vogue, and the prima ballerinas I had always looked up to.
And within the next few months I had developed a full blown eating disorder which consumed me for the next three years.
I was the worst in the eighth grade, when I dropped about 20 pounds within a two week period.
I had finally gotten down to about 90lbs, my dream weight.
But I could only sustain it by sleeping all day and eating a handful of cereal every now and then.
The binging and purging cycle started soon thereafter, when I realized that I could not maintain my weight by not eating anymore. I needed food, and I craved it. I dreamt about eating and would wake up with an empty stomach that made loud rumbling noises.
I would starve myself until I lost all ability to control my eating patterns. I would binge for hours at a time, eating everything that I had at my disposal. I would eat whole loaves of bread. Pizza, fast food and candy. Ice cream was always a go to because it was so easy to throw up.
Then I would throw up in the bathroom, saying I was taking a shower.
After two years, this routine became too burdensome to hide, and maintain. I couldn’t take two hour showers three times a day. My parents and teachers were concerned. And rumors about me started to spread throughout my small Catholic school.
So I gave in and resorted to only abstaining from food in general. But it didn’t work. I gained weight immediately.
The next few years I stopped binging and purging every day, and instead did it maybe once or twice a month. Maybe to shed a few pounds for the weekend, or just because I had the house to myself for a while. But still fairly frequently.
It wasn’t until I noticed my front teeth were starting to chip away from the constant exposure to stomach acids that got me to stop….for awhile. Until I was so desperate to binge and purge that I resorted to a technique I had previously been too disgusted by to ever try.
These were tricky to maneuver for obvious reasons. I had to reserve these for only the most dire occasions that I felt it necessary to purge.
But when I finally moved out on my own at 22 I realized that I had the freedom to use laxatives as often as I wanted or needed. Sometimes I would take as many as four at a time two or three times a week.
A friend caught me doing that, and I finally stopped. After that, I realized that I could no longer binge and purge. It was too difficult to maintain the habit, and that it wasn’t worth it do so anymore.
Now at 26, I closely monitor my food intake every day. Always trying to go to bed hungry if possible. Shrinking my clothes to make myself remember what my goal weight is, and shaming myself for not fitting in to something I purposely shrunk. Always trying to shed that last 5-10 lbs.
My issues with food are a part of my daily life, and I will never be able to change that. I consider myself lucky to have not been as severely affected by them as others. I was never hospitalized, and I was able to control it for the most part. I am not writing this article for sympathy, but wanted to share my story because almost every other girl I know has experienced it to a certain degree.
This isn’t my story, its ours, as young women. I know many men also suffer similar issues, but the reality is that society is patriarchal and puts more pressure on women to look, act, think and breathe a certain way.
Now at 26, I closely monitor my food intake every day, and have been living with my food issues for over two decades. Always trying to go to bed hungry if possible. Shrinking my clothes to make myself remember what my goal weight is, and shaming myself for not fitting in to something I purposely shrunk. Always trying to shed that last 5-10lbs.
It may not be right, but in my mind it is the only way to be. I will never be thin enough.
And this is for those who feel or have ever felt the same. For my fellow woman, my sisters and my friends, who have ever thought about food for a second longer than they should have. For those who will never be thin enough.