We judge our bodies too harshly. Judge ourselves even more for judging our bodies.
We wonder why or how or when we might become greater than this. Greater than poking and prodding at the parts of us that are too big or not big enough.
We turn to our minds time and time again to tell us that we are undeserving of food or that we are unable to stop. We are out of control but we think we are in complete control.
Eating disorders become our greatest ally and our greatest enemy.
If everything around me is spiraling downwards, then I will control the food; I will control this depression that takes so much. It gives nothing in return but leaves us with a false sense of comfort.
Ana whispers into my ear, “you will love me.” Ana meaning anorexia nervosa for many but to me, she is the voice in my head that says I am not good enough.
She pops up every now and again but I have learned to silence her quick. This wasn’t always the case. I used to think I was a failure at eating disorders. I never got too thin, never had to seek treatment.
But that’s a lie. It’s a lie to tell ourselves that people with eating disorders can only look a certain way. It’s a lie to say that there is only one type of sick.
We are so used to seeing, in our mind’s eye, what a person with an eating disorder looks like that we never stop to think about the mental side of eating disorders. We never stop to think about the different types of eating disorders or that you can’t look at someone and tell whether or not they have an eating disorder. Sometimes it doesn’t dawn on us that a person who is at a healthy weight actually is suffering from an eating disorder.
If I told you that, in the United States, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder would you be surprised? What about if I told you that in the UK the most common eating disorder is Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)?
I now wonder if it was ever about my body. Maybe not at the beginning, but the further down you travel, the obsession grows. The number on the scale can either make or break your day. I was too busy focusing on my body to notice that the issue was not my body.
Before I knew it, I was caught in the cycle: restrict -> binge -> purge/use laxatives/wallow -> repeat. Never good enough. Celebrating when my body got smaller. Lamenting when it stopped shrinking or gravity pulled me down too much.
My body image was tied to Ana. I saw my body through her eyes. Heard her voice in my head. It was not an easy journey to see myself through my eyes or finally shut out her noise to hear the sound of my voice.
I believe it’s more important than ever to spread body positivity, positive body image, and make sure those around us know that they are beautiful no matter the size of their body or their body type.
I’m fortunate that I have been able to stop Ana before she takes control of my thoughts; fortunate that I no longer embrace her as my voice. But there are many people that still struggle.
If you are one of those people, there is hope, there is help, and you are fucking beautiful.