It sickens me that one of the most common issues plaguing young females today is that of body image distortion.
I say this as a person who once hated her body so much she welcomed the idea of going to extremes to obtain perfection. Whether it was by starving, purging, or over-exercising, if it “guaranteed” perfection, I would do it. It never occurred to me that the perfection I had in mind would never be obtainable. Nor did I realize that recovery would be a life-long struggle to relearn what it felt like to be full.
A year ago, I decided it was time that self-loathing relinquished its firm grip on my life. I did not consult a psychologist because I thought of my recovery as a journey I would need to take on my own, and I did just that. But this process has hardly been an easy one, for it required that I delve into personal issues and questions that I had previously, purposely, been avoiding.
The first question I had to ask myself, and possibly the most important one, was why and when did my self-loathing initially start. And the silly thing is, it all started when I fourteen years old, standing in the girl’s locker room, watching and listening to other girls compare their bodies to each others’. They were pinching the non-existent “fat” on their legs and bellies and exclaiming phrases like, “Ugh, I’m so fat. Look at my arms!” and “I have to work out more.” I, already a fairly thin girl, noticed that their legs were a smidgeon tinier than mine, and the idea that I was fat hit me like a bullet. The next few years of my life felt like a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t stop or get off of. By the time I had reached my bottom, I was literally and figuratively sick.
Today, the relationship between my mind and my stomach is incredibly unnatural. I have to set portion/caloric limits that I can neither exceed nor go under, and I still battle mentally over which foods to eat and which to forgo. I’ll never be able to replace the things I missed during the early years of high school, the experiences I never had because of my disorder, and the opportunities that I passed up. But I will be able to carry on and look forward to what awaits me just around the corner.
I wanted to write this to all the young girls (and boys) who feel as though they are inadequate because of what they perceive to be status-crippling, physical flaws. Don’t sacrifice a chapter of your life for something as insignificant as looking good in a pair of tight jeans. You are worth much more than that. Be strong, be proud, be confident, and don’t give a shit about what others think about you. I don’t want you to spend what could be the most exciting years of your life hating what should be loved.
Looking back, I realize that I was never fat. Fat is just a word, not a personality trait, not a person’s defining feature, not something worth feeling heartbroken over. It took my years to come to terms with those truths, but I’m finally doing it; and I’m finally FINALLY embracing the two body parts that I love the most: my heart and my brain.