One Step of the Journey: Body Image

Content Warning: slight eating disorder, self harm mentions

I found a post I wrote in honor of eating disorder awareness week and wanted to share. I took the post, wrote more,and updated so this was partially written two years ago and part today.

Before I start, I want to make sure I state that it’s important to raise awareness that eating disorders aren’t diets or about being trendy, they are serious mental illnesses that kill. As someone who lives with mental illness, I know how hard it can be to fight those thoughts. The first time I blatantly remember being concerned about my body, I was eight years old. I’m definitely not thin now;  I’m a size twelve. But until I was seven or eight, I was a very skinny child. I ate decently but I couldn’t gain weight, and my doctors were a little concerned. Because I was also short due to my body not producing growth hormone, I had to begin taking medication, and gained quite a bit of weight. I was put on my first diet that year, third grade! Looking back, that seems ridiculous, but it’s not uncommon, especially considering the recent news that Weight Watchers is marketing to teens now. I lost most of that weight again, and was relatively thin until around the beginning or middle of high school. I got so many comments on my body no matter which side of the spectrum I was on, but they were far worse when I was on an up swing with weight. Just based on the messages sent to me while I was already being bullied, I can completely understand how toxic messages about diet culture can easily enter our brains. I’m pretty sure I haven’t liked my body since I was eight. I was introduced to the body positive movement in college and have come more out of my shell over time. I engaged in behavior that were very harmful to my body that I’m around at least two years clean from, but I still have that almost daily meltdown any time I actually have to take stock of what my body looks like. Sometimes I hide it behind cute outfits that I love, but I still can’t say I’m happy with it. However, I’m also really lucky to have mental health resources and body acceptance guides. I’ve seen very few women of my size able to exist and succeed in media. In fact, the only character I can think of where her weight is not an issue at all is Julie, played by Beanie Feldstein,in Lady Bird. Also, studies show we discriminate against women who are plus size or like me, just under plus size. I’m working hard to do little by little to be kinder to myself, and so should all of us.

Almost all of us struggle with body image in some form. In the future, I hope that we can

  1. Never compare bodies. For example, quit statements like  “I hate the way I look. I wish I was X. I wish I looked like her.” because it just breeds more negativity. It can never be positive. Never comment on someone’s body for any reason, it doesn’t need to be done.The standards society and media sets are bad enough without comparing ourselves to others. We need to build each other up, not perpetuate the insecurities we feel. Even if you’re complimenting, it can be detrimental too. Beanie Feldstein, who plays character similar to myself in Lady Bird, explained this better than I could! (link at end of post)
  2. As much as possible don’t let other voices in.If someone tries to tear you down, it’s because they feel torn down themself. It’s not about you, and it’s important to evaluate what matters to you. Society’s standards change. Your own beauty doesn’t. Don’t change for others.
  3. And that voice in yourself that tells you you aren’t good enough is only that as well. If you’re someone like me who deals with clinical anxiety and depression, it’s enough to struggle with without having outside messages. That negative monster inside won’t speak the truth either. Be strong anyway. Fight it. Build other women up and yourself up. No body is perfect, so listen to what your body is telling you it is supposed to be, because you are more than a body anyway. It is okay to think you are good. It’s okay to eat what you want to eat. It took a long time before I could stop feeling shame for eating “junk”. I try to balance. For years, I struggled with being afraid to exercise because I was afraid to sweat and look even worse, afraid to look stupid, afraid that because of bad hips and knees I couldn’t do as much as everyone else could, but now I exercise moderately because it makes me feel GOOD, not because I’m punishing myself, because it’s just a part of self care. I still can’t step on a scale without getting too panicky, but that’s just something to work on, and something we need to stress less as a society anyway. More and more of us need to follow more body positivity, and incorporate it.

It is okay to surround yourself with positive things. It’s okay to love yourself. If we work towards that, things can change.

For more!

Eating disorder resources

Don’t Worry Be happy (or some crap life advice like that) by Patti Murin

Believing is seeing by Eva Noblezada

Don’t punish yourself thin by Carrie Hope Fletcher

Please stop complimenting me on my body by beanie feldstein

Podcast with fat intersectional voices: search “She’s all Fat” on podcasts
Other body positive Queens to follow : @iamdaniadriana  & @bodyposipanda

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