I can recall vividly the first time I felt shame about my body. My mother and I were walking to an elderly neighbor’s house to offer her our assistance. As we neared her home she came out into the porch, looked me up and down and said, quite loudly: “She’s getting FAT, what are you feeding her?”
My mother looked at me and said: “Don’t listen to her” But it was too late… Self-doubt and a touch of shame had crept into my awareness. I looked down at my body, it didn’t look fat to me but maybe I had gained weight. I was 11 years old and I did like sweet sugary snacks.
This feeling of shameful body awareness stayed with me for a couple of days – then settled into my unconsciousness like a seed planted deeply. This seed of shame festered and flourished, nurtured by television and our media’s portrayal of beautiful thin women as the golden calf to be worshiped above all else.
As I grew, it became clear to me that a woman’s worth lay in her looks. In sixth grade I informed my best friend of my fool proof plan to achieve happiness: the second I turned eighteen I would dye my hair blond and have the freckles on my face surgically removed – then I would be beautiful and truly happy.
At age twenty six, when my daughter was two years old, I embarked on my first diet and lost 20 pounds on my average sized frame. The attention and responses I received solidified the addictive quality of our obsession with thin and my eating disorders commenced.
For the next seven years I exercised obsessively, ate very little or threw-up what I ate and weighed myself daily. Each night, as I lay in bed I would tally what I ate and compare this to how much I had exercised. I was constantly conscious of the number of calories consumed and burned. If I couldn’t calculate a calorie deficit I would drift off to sleep afloat in a sea of disgrace.
I have never been a particularly strong-willed person so anorexia came with intolerable struggle. This, coupled with the fact that I cherished the numbing, drug-like quality that eating abhorrent amounts of fat and sugar laden foods offered, I became a rampant bulimic. Bulimia became my method for remaining thin yet addressing my strong desire to “tune-out” in front of the television with a huge plate of nachos.
Bulimia is ugly. I have performed many objectionable and detestable acts in my pursuit for what I believed to be my salvation: the perfect body. I have puked up thousands of dollars’ worth of food and obsessed fanatically and hatefully about my body, all in the hopes of feeling worthy, relevant and loved. Pursuing the perfect body as a means to fulfill my lacking sense of self-worth left me hopelessly empty. All the donuts, nachos and cakes in the world couldn’t fill this sense of lack within my heart.
My years spent in an active eating disorders were filled with fear; I was terrified of becoming FAT. If I became fat, who was I? If I became fat, I would lose any relevance and admiration I had, becoming just another homely mom in the grocery store check-out line. If I became fat I might as well not even exist.
This all began to change the day I met HER. She was one of those rare women who lived with authenticity; grounded in her own inner peace and self-acceptance. She didn’t conform to our culture’s unhealthy ideal of beauty. She simply didn’t participate in modern society’s obsession with appearances the fashion industry approved of. She was real. After working with her for three days I knew I wanted to be real too.
So I changed. I told the truth to my husband, my friends and family and yes, this was terrifying. I gave away my size two clothing and bathroom scale. I began to eat… and not throw-up. I began to meditate daily. As my focus turned inward the universe conspired to validate my decision for peace with love and compassion.
In my journey to Self-Love, it has been imperative that I seek out and heal any areas of my psyche which remain unloving. All my harsh and judgmental thoughts, beliefs and ideas must be seen in order to heal. For me, this is a continual process, requiring a strong intention to know peace and balance, necessitating that I develop willingness to see my dark side and at times, sit with very uncomfortable feelings.
I still have thoughts like: “I want to lose weight, I look unattractive” and “I should be fit.” Sometimes I believe them and sometimes I don’t. When self-depreciating thoughts creep into my mind and lead to self-doubt, I firmly remind myself: thoughts come and go; they need not dictate how I feel about myself. The truth is: my body is as perfect now, in all its soft, round fullness, as it ever was when I was fit and thin.
My decision to stop my body obsession and eating disorders has changed my life in so many ways. What I have found throughout my quest for self-love is more peace, true joy and appreciation then I ever imagined, and so much more than I ever got from being a size two.
Photographer: Semra Sevin Model: Amelie Stylist: Silvia Maggi
If you digged this article, then you will dig these — The Bumpy Road of Recovery from Eating Disorders, Zoe Kravitz: NEW MOVIE Release! ‘The Road Within’ on Eating+Mental Disorders,How Self-Love Makes You Healthier
Thanks for the support and love 🙂 Your REglam Team xx
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