Living in solitary confinement has been a struggle for all of us for a variety of reasons. I imagine it has put many of us face-to-face with truths and thoughts we’ve been shoving under the rug. I’ve decided it’s time to clean up the mess (and maybe get a new rug—who doesn’t love a clean slate?).
I would like to share a personal story with you, hoping it will resonate with you, inspire you, or simply give you a glimpse into the anxious mind of an angsty teenager with severe, ever-lingering body image struggles.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt at ease with my body. From being noticeably taller than the rest of my classmates at an all-girls primary school to being slightly heavier than most of my boyfriends (oh, the double-standard), I always felt a nagging self-consciousness about my body that eventually became an embedded feeling rather than a thought.
Throughout High School and early college, I struggled with a silent eating disorder that I never got proper help for. My relationship with food was unbelievably toxic—I would go on two week binge-eating rampages, then promptly compensate by nearly starving myself the following two weeks. I’ve lost count of how many times my weight fluctuated heavily throughout six years. I’m talking 12 pound gains and losses during the span of one month.
This obviously came with severe anxiety and insecurity surrounding food and my self esteem. My head was constantly filled with counting calories, making sure I wore “flattering” clothing (what the fuck even is that, anyway?), pretending to be ticklish so that people wouldn’t touch my love handles, obsessively logging the food I consumed (and stressing about it), comparing myself and my body to other people’s, and dreading (yet looking forward to) the high-intensity cardio sessions that I would put myself through as a punishment for breaking my “DIET” (read: literal starvation plan). I remember my daily routine being a 40-minute run on the treadmill, immediately followed by a spinning class, and then a bike ride home. I even began to crave feeling light-headed and nearly passing out.
I spent much of my free time looking up “THINSPIRATION” on Tumblr for motivation. For those not familiar, these were online pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia blogs/communities created by self-applauding anorexics and bulimics, mostly TEENAGERS. I spent hours on end scrolling through mirror selfies showing off protruding hip bones or collar bones, along with detailed instructions on how to hide your eating disorder from your parents by wearing baggy clothes. I have to note that I never suffered from anorexia, but the fact that I spent hours looking through these online communities was a blatant warning sign.
Being invited to social gatherings and birthday parties was, for the most part, a nightmare. I would either eat 7 slices of pizza and 3 slices of cake (and feel horrible about myself for the rest of the night) or compulsively drink water to avoid touching any of the food and refreshments provided. There was no in between.
What a horrible way to live, especially at such a vulnerable age, where we’re only starting to become familiar with our bodies and should be building the difficult skill that is self-love.
I have only recently come to realize what an unhealthy, self-loathing, and mostly dangerous lifestyle I was living.
I owe myself a huge, overdue apology for having let people, society, and my surroundings convince me that I was not enough, that my talents, my intelligence, my feelings, my abilities, and my magic meant absolutely nothing, so long as I didn’t weigh below 130 lbs. Unfortunately, body image struggles exist across all industries, and they have been heavily propagated for generations, intentionally and unintentionally.
I would like to remind you that your soul, your heart, your personality, and who you are as a human being are all far more important than how much you weigh or what you look like. And that you should exercise and eat healthy, not because summer is coming or because hookup szn is around the corner, but because your health matters and your body needs proper nutrition and care in order to be its very best self. Your body is your motor, the vehicle that moves you, and you owe it all the respect and praise in the world. Please treat your body with nothing but LOVE. And please, for the love of all that is holy, teach your children and loved ones to do the same.