most days i walk around disconnected from my body.
during my exercise compulsion/restrictive eating phase, i worried all the time about my body, about how its folds and round edges presented themselves. i observed every reflective surface. i pinched, hit, scratched. i was only my body. all the time.
when i started gaining weight, i stopped looking at my reflection so much. i started delving past surface level because i no longer connected to or liked my surface level. beneath my skin, i recognized a dimly lit soul, obscured by obsession. i detached from my physical self, took the time to reacquaint with my spiritual, emotional, and mental self. suddenly i was not just a stomach with arms, legs, hands and feet. i was a person, too.
on the off days i catch my silhouette off-guard, i react in one of two ways. on the good days, i will smile, turn one way. turn another way. strike a pose. laugh at myself and continue on with a good day. on the bad days. well. we all know how the bad days go, don’t we?
generally i cry. like i am surprised at seeing myself, truly. in my mind i look a different way. i am the smaller version of myself, the one i spent hours studying in the mirror for two years. not the heavier young woman looking back at me with empty eyes. i don’t know her. i’m scared to see myself as i am.
you know about body dysmorphia (disorder)? crude judgement call: eating disordered people have it. in a few sentences:
Often BDD co-occurs with emotional depression and anxiety, social withdrawal or social isolation. The onset of the symptoms of a mentally unhealthy preoccupation with body image occurs either in adolescence or in early adulthood, whence begins self-criticism of the personal appearance, from which develop atypical aesthetic-standards derived from the internal perceptual discrepancy between the person’s ‘actual self’ and the ‘ideal self’
oh, hey life.
i see beauty easily in other people. i see it quickly. in smiles, in eyes. in the way shoulders roll back and chests lift. i see beauty in all sizes, in all shapes.
just not in mine.
i am measured in rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks. not by my intelligence, laughter, and kindness. i don’t see what other people see. i struggle with physical compliments. whenever anyone tells me i am beautiful, i cringe. i think, “how can you see that? do you not see this stomach? these legs? these horrible arms?” other women are allowed to look like i am and be beautiful. i am not.
really though, i don’t hate my body. i hate myself. the self-hatred manifests in the mirror.
i constantly battle the beauty ideals born from magazine culture. the rational side of me understands i deserve intimacy, authenticity, happiness, and love no matter the size of my stomach. she knows people find me attractive. she knows beauty shows up in a variety of ways. she knows personality shines just as bright as physical beauty.
none of that matters though when you put all your worth into your appearance. personality doesn’t matter when you can’t shake the idea of worth being directly tied to an uber-processed, shallow idea of beauty. self-love won’t happen when you can’t get over the idea that your body isn’t right, that it needs to be smaller because you’re too big for your height, for yourself, for anyone else.
deep down, i am terrified this will be my forever. that i will never gain a positive body-image and allow life into my life. i am scared i will never love the person i am. that is more immobilizing than living forever with this eating disorder.
the best i can do?
take it one day at a time.
what do you do if and when you find yourself in this struggle?
i wrote that last night before insomnia kicked in. i wrote it before i found two beautiful blogs i spent too many hours looking through. tucked in between those virtual pages i found photos. videos.
like this one. (scroll down till you hit the video of the little boy. he is more in touch with his fantastic, female sexiness than i am at twenty-two.).
and this one. (scroll down till you hit the video of the blonde girl reciting a poem she wrote. it’s fucking brilliant and left me covered in goosebumps).
i listened to some spoken word last night, about what it means to be female, about what it means to be fat. it got me thinking, about the word fat. about femininity. about bodies.
think about what you think about when you think about fat.
what words come to your mind? what emotions? what images?
more importantly: are they negative?
america has this unhealthy obsession with fat. we care so much about the bodies of other people, about the bodies we inhabit. turn on your television and count the number of shows about fat people (TLC is a good place to start). open up magazines and tally the number of articles geared toward losing weight. better yet, go count the advertisements.
america is drowning in fat shame and fat obsession.
the weirdest part is this: fat means nothing.
i’m going to say that again:
FAT. MEANS. NOTHING.
it only means what we choose to associate with it. and, unfortunately, america generally associates fat with ugly, unhealthy, abnormal, shame, and unworthy.
what right do we possess that allows us to pass judgement on the body of another person? what happens when we do do that? when we judge, we create assumptions. how do you know a heavier person is not healthy? how do you know they do not exercise or eat healthfully? the answer? you don’t. nor should you care. it’s not your body. it’s not your life. (i am saying this as much for myself as anyone else).
the image of a toned, tight, and fit person haunts every single person in western culture, whether we fight against it or not. that ideal still exists, still floats in the back of our minds, still affects how we view our body in the world. womanhood and femininity do not come in a one size fits all. we just like to pretend it does.
worshipping the idol of thin is a religion breeding contempt for diversity.
and contempt for our own beautiful selves.
after i watched those videos, after i read through quotes and surveyed pictures, i stumbled onto one thought:
i am so lucky to have this female body.
no matter what shape it takes.
because people like that little boy will never truly be a woman. transgendered females will never be biologically female like i am. this body is a gift. it is something to be celebrated, not cried over because it’s a little round. to be a woman is an amazing, sometimes overwhelming, experience. there is a reason we look different.
so, my god,
zoe, stop worrying about your body. because you are not you body.
you are a living, breathing, soul with beauty your limbs can never measure.