It’s never a simple thing to admit you have a problem. A lot of the time, we justify the things we do with simple excuses or maybe even a small lie. People will ask you if you’re hungry and you’ll lie, say “no,” even though you’re starving. You tell yourself you just need some water when you know you need much more. It’s when you haven’t eaten in a week and you’re at the grocery store with tears in your eyes, lightheaded and dizzy, that you know. Beneath all of those excuses, you have a problem.
The above and following is a guest post by soon-to-be contributing writer, Olivia Deep.
I remember as a small child thinking that people calling me “chunky” was a good thing until one day I realized it wasn’t. I was around 15, looking at myself in the mirror, and hating every curve of my body. I needed to change. I worked so hard that year, spending my free time working out and eating smaller portions. My diet went from just eating dinner, to dinner being a spoonful of peanut butter, to just going to bed and not eating anything at all. I eventually got to the point at which I passed out and was rushed to the hospital, but I never received any help for an eating disorder.
When you are thin and develop an eating disorder, you are hospitalized, but when you are fat and develop an eating disorder, you are a success story.
That’s how people saw it. People would come up to me and ask me how I lost all that weight, how I looked amazing, how I was “so skinny.” I was a success story and in some ways it was true that I was skinny. The only problem was that when I stared at myself in the mirror, I never saw myself as skinny. It felt as though I would never be skinny. That’s what starving yourself to get skinny does; It messes with your mind in a way that is kind of like being addicted to drugs.
Olivia at 15, 16, and 17, respectively.
You become addicted to an unattainable idea that lies deeper than how you look. It’s a self-loathing demon that whispers in your ear, saying that you will never be good enough.
I would love to tell you that I lost that image of myself in my head.
I would love to say that I can look at myself and confidently define myself as skinny.
However, the truth of the matter is that even when I dropped down to 100 pounds at a height of 5’8,” I still saw myself as fat. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a funny thing that takes what we know and twists it. To this day, I don’t know if I need to lose or gain weight; It’s an ongoing battle I deal with. It’s worrisome not knowing if my friends are telling me I’m skinny because they are scared I’ll stop eating again, or if they’re telling me I’m skinny because I’m actually skinny.
Body dysmorphia is a feeling in your bones, a need to reassure yourself that you have to be skinny because you can feel your ribcage. It’s spending hours in the grocery store because you need food, but you don’t want to eat anything, so you leave with nothing. It’s over analyzing how much you are eating compared to a friend. It’s having a guy kiss your stomach and feeling your heart drop because you are so sure that he’s going to think you’re disgusting. It’s laying awake at night with tears in your eyes and an empty belly knowing that you failed today. You failed at loving yourself.
What changed wasn’t how I saw myself, it was how I chose to accept myself.
If you are able to convinced yourself you don’t need basic human necessities, you are able to convince yourself of anything. Imagine for a moment that it is not you starving yourself, but it is someone else you care about, be it your sister, your brother, your good friend, or maybe even your mother. Think of how worried you would be about that person. Why wouldn’t you feel that way about yourself? Now maybe this doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, I imagined what I would feel if my sister were starving herself. In that case, I would be sincerely distraught. Realizing this, I reflected on why I don’t feel that way about myself. Why don’t I care for myself as much as I would about my sister? From that point on, I decided I wanted to care for myself as much as I would anyone else. I am worthy of my own love and affection.
I started waking up everyday and telling myself,
“Good morning, Beautiful.”
I know this sounds silly, but I dare you to try it for just one week. When you wake up, say, “Good morning, Beautiful.” I would even write messages to myself, like, “You’re cute,” or, “You look amazing!” This helped a lot with how I would look at myself.
I discovered physical activities I actually enjoyed doing. This is so important because if you’re one of those people who hate going to the gym, having something else to do that can make you more body positive is so important. I started hiking a lot more, I got into hula hooping, and lastly, I took up yoga. Now, yoga for me was one of the greatest platforms to really help my body image. When you do yoga, you really learn how your body works – how it stretches and balances. You can set intents for what you want to feel each time and really gain a respect for your body and all its capabilities if you really believe in it. I’m not saying yoga is for everyone, but I think it is definitely worth a shot.
The hardest part for me, though, was the eating. The biggest key here is not to judge yourself. If you can only eat a snack, That’s amazing, dude. I’m so proud of you. If you can eat a whole burger, Hell yeah, dude, that’s awesome! I’m so proud of you. It’s so important to be proud of yourself no matter what you eat. You’re eating and that’s absolutely amazing. You just spent years beating yourself up, starving yourself, and you’re finally eating. I am so proud of you.
If you need help figuring out what to eat, planning my meal as if it was for someone else helped me a lot. When I go grocery shopping, I think about what I should make for my roommates, but I make it for myself. I really lucked out having a friend that really loves food, because when I’m in the grocery store, I’ll think about how she describes food, how good it tastes, and sometimes, I can almost enjoy it as much as I imagine she does.
Overall, the biggest thing that I cannot stress enough is: Do not judge yourself so harshly.
You are a human being. You are allowed to have flaws. It’s what makes us all beautiful in our own unique way. You will only be happy with how you look if you learn that you are worth loving no matter what you look like. It’s a hard concept, I know. We spend years ridiculing how we look and act, but there is no reason for it all. We are beautiful creatures that are so much more then just physical appearances.
Love yourself for who you are because you are worth it.
Check out associated documentary ‘Floxed’ on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re interested in writing for The Barefoot Aya, now is the time! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Olivia Deep. Feature photo by Kira Ikonnikova on Unsplash