7,000 followers. That’s a lot of people. Maybe not as many as other famous Tumblr bloggers have, but to me, 7,000 was a significant following – a significant enough following to label myself as quasi-Tumblr famous (at least within the fitspo community).
From the outside I seemed like the girl who had it all: a great body, good looks, happiness, and most importantly, self-control. Online, dozens of my personal progress photos had tens of thousands of notes attributed to them. How could someone who had that many notes on photos of themselves not be happy? But what many people didn’t know was I was battling a demon of my own: my eating disorder.
I operated under the façade that my “toned” body was a result of my workouts and “healthy” eating. Nothing could be further from the truth.
My body was a product of my restricted eating habits, self-deprecating mind, and an overly extreme workout schedule.
For an entire year – my senior year in high school to be exact – I focused on three things: my schoolwork, my diet, and my workout schedule. Food and working out took precedent over any relationships I had – you know, the actual important things in life. While my classmates were making the most of their last year in high school by hanging out with friends, I was spending all of my time in the gym and at home.
I couldn’t eat out because I wouldn’t touch anything that had carbs, and I’m talking about any sort of carbohydrate, even fruit, rice, and starchy vegetables. My workout routine was regimented to the point where I would throw tantrums if I could not follow it. A seventeen-year-old young adult throwing a tantrum over missing a workout – that’s not what a happy, healthy person looks like, but that was the very image I was portraying online.
I was a living, breathing hypocrite. I received dozens of messages from young girls on a daily basis asking me for advice on how to lose weight, how to tone up, how to gain confidence. Little did they know, I was not in the position to be giving them any sort of legitimate advice; hell, I needed advice on healthy living.
The pressure of keeping a blog where I portrayed a different Nicole, a healthier Nicole, was too much. It was almost suffocating.
I couldn’t continue lying to myself or to my followers, so I deleted my mini empire; I ended my Tumblr-fame with one click.
Despite ending my online presence, my eating disorder followed me to college and slowly morphed into a binge eating disorder. Night after dreaded night during my first year at college, I would sneak down my residence hall into the loggia where one of the three snack-filled vending machines on my college’s campus lived. There, I would feed the machine handfuls of change to receive bags of processed junk food in return. Once back in the safety of my dorm room, I opened up my laptop, put on a Netflix film, and gorged my brains out on the food I just bought. An insatiable hunger consumed me; it dwelled in my very soul. This type of night would occur for days on end, interrupted by a binge-free week, only to begin the cycle once again.
Fortunately, the relentless binge/restrict cycle that consumed me ended. Four years later, I can confidently say I no longer maintain a toxic mindset around food or my body. Four years of learning how to accept my body, of placing my self worth on other aspects of my identity, of not comparing myself to others, I regained control of my life and gained incredible insight on myself.
How I achieved this is a story for another article, but what I want you to take away from this article is the following: nothing is as it seems. In the case of online personalities, no matter how much an individual puts out onto the Internet, you will never truly know their story. The envy and jealousy people feel towards others is ultimately pointless. The success one achieves may seem effortless to others, but in fact, may have been (and probably was) a treacherous journey for the achiever. The saying “never judge a book by its cover,” may be old, but it still holds true in the 21st century, and probably will forever.