When was the first time you felt bad about your body?
I ask about the first time because I know there have been many times. I know you’ve grappled with accepting your body and your appearance—simply because you are a woman.
I’ll tell you about the first time I felt bad about my body:
I was maybe seven, playing with Barbies at my friend Stevie’s house. Stevie was tall and lanky and had this long, flowing, gorgeous brown hair. My hair was short and so was I and my belly was round and my legs were stubby; but I’d never noticed until this moment. I looked at the Barbies, then at Stevie, then back to me. I didn’t fit in. And thus began the avalanche of trying to make myself stop sneaking spoonfuls of peanut butter, creating exercise programs for myself, comparing myself to other girls and just knowing that it was because I was rounder that boys didn’t like me. It was because I was fat that I had less friends that somebody else. And in the avalanche, I just got buried, you know?
That was the first time. Sometimes I still feel bad—when I allow myself to compare. Especially when I let myself be compared to airbrushed fakery that is so hilariously unreal it’s sickening. But that’s another discussion.
When I catch myself starting to feel bad now, you know what I do? I think of all the women in my life who I love and who love me right back. We’re all in this ridiculous battle together, fighting on the same side.
I have never met a female who hasn’t wished she looked different at some point in her life. Most of us try to “do something about it”—exercise for hours on end; refuse certain foods or meals; try to make ourselves throw up; and at the very least, we complain about it with our girlfriends.
So why do we feel so alone when we’re going through it? Why do we assume that everyone else feels comfortable and peaches and cream and we silently squirm through the awfulness of it? Even at those sleepovers where you picked yourselves apart in front of the mirror, did you feel like I did—that your friends couldn’t possibly feel that way about themselves because they were more beautiful and skinnier than you were?
But what if we could talk about it—I mean really talk about it? What if we could just say out loud: “I believe that if I’m skinnier all my problems will be solved.” What if we could admit that we crave control in our life, and if we can make ourselves look right people like us more? What if we could just let it be known that we have vowed eleventeen hundred times to never eat another brownie, only to fail eleventeen hundred times over? What if you could just put it out there that you made yourself throw up after overeating in middle school? What if you knew that these disclosures would be met with nothing but love and support?
For those times when you’ve felt alone in this struggle: Lauren, who used to work here at WSR, shared some thoughts. She discusses how, for her, disordered eating wasn’t about the food. She wanted to fit in and have friends. Do you see the comments? Do you see that you are not alone?
Please comment here as well about your experiences with food issues and body acceptance. Have you ever struggled with an eating disorder? What about disordered eating? Or, if you like, respond to the first question: When was the first time you felt bad about your body? Feel free to comment anonymously.
Take a moment to let your sisters who are struggling know that they, too, are not alone.