February 26 - March 4 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which forces me to reflect on a very difficult time in my life. From the time I was thirteen-years-old, and all throughout my teenage years, I struggled with an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa, an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.
Eating disorders are not something that people are born with, and they are not something that people bring upon themselves intentionally. Rather, eating disorders form because of the ideas planted in young women and men’s minds about weight and appearance from media, family, and friends (usually at a young age). Every time someone makes a comment about weight that makes us feel insecure, and every time we see hyper-thin women on TV or in a magazine, we judge ourselves harshly. A seed is planted. A very specific thought process is formed that in order to be successful in life, you must be beautiful. And in order to be beautiful, you must be thin.
I’ll never forget the first time that thought crossed my mind. I was eleven-years-old, and was being measured for a dance recital costume. My teacher made the comment to the whole class that, “Tori is definitely the biggest of the group.”
The second time was when I had to be rushed to the ER in the middle of the night at age twelve. The nurse had to weigh me and check my vitals before I was admitted. When I stepped on the scale she said, “Wow, you’re bigger than you look.”
The third time was when I was in 6th grade at a sleepover. A girl made the comment that “She’d have to wrap a belt around twice to fit into Tori’s pants.”
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
SO many women and men have experiences exactly like this that undoubtedly shape their opinions about their bodies in an extremely negative way.
And if I’m being 100% honest, those opinions never really go away…even if, medically speaking, the eating disorder does. I'm not sure you can ever be fully "recovered" from an eating disorder. It will always probably be a small part of who you are.
Even today, after years of recovery, I find those thoughts creeping back in on occasion.
Even after discovering self-love through yoga, making the choice to nourish my body with nutritious foods, dedicating so much time and effort to healthy exercise, and surrounding myself with positive people who truly love themselves in a really beautiful and magical way…I STILL have moments where I go back to being that insecure little girl who is worried about everyone judging her body.
Like last weekend, when I found myself in tears while getting ready for a party because I hated the way every outfit looked on my body.
Or over the summer, when I decided I’d rather sweat my ass off in jeans than wear shorts to go out because I didn’t want people to see my thighs.
You can still love yourself and have moments like this, guys. It just means that you’re human, and it’s completely normal. We ALL have these thoughts sometimes. What matters is that the good thoughts outweigh the bad, and that we actively work every single day to love ourselves and our bodies. For me, that looks like giving myself days off when I know I’ve been overdoing it…choosing organic, fresh foods over take out and junk…getting up to exercise every weekday at 5am because I know it’ll make me feel better during the day…and consciously choosing clothing that I know will make me feel beautiful and not trigger my insecurities.
Choose love. Every day. And don’t beat yourself up for one poor decision or negative thought. Notice it, acknowledge it, and move on. You are NOT your disorder. You are NOT a prisoner to your thoughts. You ARE a powerful, beautiful, amazing human and you are capable of anything you set your fucking mind to.
Perfection is a prison. Remember that.
I choose to love:
my big ribcage
my muscular thighs
my squinty eyes
my frizzy curls
my athletic build
my strong body that supports me
What do YOU choose to love?
© 2017 National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
images from www.sheknows.com, www.womenshealthmag.co.uk
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