*Trigger Warning: This post deals with the psychology of an Eating Disorder*
I used to be thin. Very thin. My collarbones framed my neck just so – bones were a connection of silver filaments and thin strings that ran underneath my skin. You could draw my skeleton. The ribs in between my breasts created a canyon. My spine was an exclamation point imprinted on my body. My face was angular and sharp, coming to a point under my mouth, pronounced and un-avoidable.
My strength used to be my thinness. Thin used to make me feel safe. It made me feel accomplished and clean. Light. I felt I could just lift off the ground and fly. I was stronger than the most basic of human urges. I could dismiss food as easily as a cloud in the sky. Weightless. Thin was my headmaster, my sister, my siren, my demon, my prize. But Thin also demeaned and shamed me. My self-worth was waning. Self-control ruled me, guided me, screamed at me and mutilated me.
Thin used to be wonderful. Being thin meant I was better than “all the fat people,” it meant I had some special quality that no one else could possess. Being thin meant I was a “real” model. It meant I was dedicated to my job, it meant I was going to the top.
Eventually I broke under Thin’s demanding rules – I gained weight. Seven pounds to be exact. It was hell for me. I cried over each pound gained.
I tried so hard to get thin back. I did juicing diets. I skipped meals. I ran six miles every day, upping it to eight or nine if I had the time. I spent hours looking over old modeling pictures, as if I could soak back the self-control I had then through the computer screen. I used laxatives for a couple weeks until it disrupted an important shoot I had with a new client.
I would write lists in thick black Sharpie pen on lined paper so I couldn’t avoid the words.
What I had written would stare back at me, mocking my waning self-control. I just wanted to eat again. But even more, I wanted to be strong enough to starve.
Drink 1 gallon of water a day
Fast for 48 hours
List after list. I would write out, “You will not eat. You do not need food.”
I prayed to God for the self-control to starve myself. I wrote Bible verses and pasted them on walls and doors – “But I discipline my body and keep it under control…” (I Cor. 9:27 ESV).
Thin. Thin. Thin. Bones. Bones. Bones. Light. Light. Light. Control. Control. Control.
I wanted nothing more than to see a large gap between my thighs. I wanted to hear comments on my weight. I wanted to turn down food without a second thought. I wanted to be strong again. Thin. It consumed me.
That’s what I USED to be.
I don’t quite know where the change came. I believe the part of me that loved myself was always there, but Thin had taken over for so long that I had a hard time believing the small voice that whispered, “You are good enough. You are beautiful. Stop this madness.” Eventually I opened up to all my modeling followers and wrote a public blog about my struggle. Once I did that, I had made a conscious choice to heal once and for all.
I also had to step away from modeling because the pressure was still there. I had a lot of people wanting to work with me and book me for jobs but I couldn’t say yes because I was no longer the size I used to be when they first worked with me. I was no longer a marketable product. My body was my paycheck, my longevity, my pride, my future. My measurements opened or closed doors of traveling overseas for me. The size of my thighs determined whether or not I booked a high paying gig or not.
I quickly realized that I would either have to starve myself (even worse than before) to be able to continue my job or I would have to take a step back and move in a healthier direction.
So, I walked away from it. Thin was kicking and screaming my whole way out the door. I had just enough strength to ignore it and walk into freedom into something feasible. A life where I didn’t hyperventilate in the bathtub or exist off of coffee. A life where I could enjoy eating out. Where I could eat food and not hate myself for fulfilling the most basic human need.
It’s never that simple though.
Now my thighs touch when I sit down, when there used to be so much space there. I had to buy size 4 jeans instead of squeezing into my jeans sized 0 or 2. I have a big butt and a (much) bigger bust size. Even though I know I am making positive changes in the right direction, some days I feel like a whale. An absolute fat-ass. I feel out of control, I feel that my “extra” weight defines my worth as a person.
The ironic thing about it is that I get more compliments now than I ever did before. I’ve had men from 35 year old contractors to the boy working the register at 7/11 ask me on a date. Want to guess who wrote the page long note? It wasn’t the teenager.
My point is not to draw attention to my getting hit on, but to make the (rather strange) point that now, at my highest weight, in this strange body that I don’t know how to live in, that I mostly hate and am trying so desperately to learn to love, I am appreciated. I am seen as beautiful. I am complimented by people whose opinions actually matter.
As I am slowly recovering from my disordered thinking and eating habits that lasted me almost 4 years, and as I realize my strength comes not from restriction but rather the enjoyment of life, I can clearly see the trouble with Thin.
The trouble with Thin was the very weakness of my soul. The trouble with Thin was the cold that invaded me every day. The trouble with Thin was the misdirected self-confidence, the complete wrap up in sizes and measurements. The trouble with Thin was the anger, the self-punishments for eating too much, for being weak. The trouble with Thin was the complete lack of substance within me.
I now find enjoyment in a warm bowl of oatmeal with chopped fruit in the morning, indulging in chocolate and YES, even BREAD. TAKE THAT EATING DISORDER!
The phase I’m in is a hard one – it’s a constant fight between old patterns of thinking and the want to be finally free to live a healthy, happy, fulfilling life. Some days I secretly wish for that “strength” that Thin lent me for all those years. Then I look in the mirror and see curves, soft places over harsh bones, I see a health, color and vitality that was never there when Thin was in control.
I think I’m beginning to really love the body I’m in. And that, above jean sizes and vapid compliments, even above everything Thin offered and promised me, is a beautiful thing.
*Disclaimer – This is NOT a skinny-bashing article, the Thin I reference is the name I gave my Eating Disorder (ED). If you are born naturally thin, curvy or even in-between, you are beautiful. A woman with a vagina is a REAL woman. I disagree with the phrase, “Real Women Have Curves”. We need to be aware that assuming that someone who is naturally thin has an eating disorder is just as hurtful as assuming someone heavier is lazy and unhealthy. However, eating disorders are highly prevalent in young and even older women around the world.
Not sure if you have an ED?
Please visit THIS LINK (http://www.self.com/magazine/polls/eating_disorder/disorder)
which offers an Eating Disorder assessment test.
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