Anyone who knows me well knows that I have struggled with body image my entire life.
Eighth grade was the real tipping point. A male classmate of mine had angrily told me to “go eat another twinkie” one day and after that I was never the same. I don’t think I realized at first what he meant and then it hit me. He thinks I’m fat. He sees me and thinks of me as a fat girl.
I was a chubby kid. I will not deny that. I was active and loved sports, but I also liked McDonald’s and sweetened soda and all of those things that just weren’t good for my body. But I don’t think I realized that I was fat until that moment. I mean I knew I wasn’t thin. I knew I wasn’t like the pretty, skinny girls in middle school who wore double zero Hollister jeans and belly shirts. I knew I wasn’t like them, I had always covered up my body. Often times wrapped up in my dad’s extra-extra large sweatshirts. But now it was real, I was fat and I immediately starting scrutinizing myself.
It was the summer after that hurtful comment that I entered the world of fitness. I wanted to get in shape for high school soccer so I started running and swimming and working out constantly all with the desire to be that fit, skinny girl that I wanted to be in my head. I also took on a strict 900 calorie-a-day diet. I starved myself. For four months I don’t think I ate chocolate or french fries or anything. I remember eating these ham sandwiches on low-calorie bread and 70 calorie yogurts. I remember eating plums and strangely enough I don’t remember many vegetables.
I do remember how it felt when I lost 25 pounds in one summer. I remember the awe in people’s eyes. I remember them saying I looked great and I remembered how it felt to finally, finally be a skinny girl. I remember it so clearly that I have tears in my eyes because I want that again.
Then came the fear. The fear of food. The fear of going to school and someone offering me a cookie, or hanging out with a friend and them offering me a slice of pizza. I was no longer in my own, protected world of starvation and running and I was terrified. Every day I spent hours thinking about food and the temptation and about getting fat.
I lived like that for years and then one day, my junior year of high school I realized I no longer had that resolve to say no. And so I ate.
Since then, four years later, it has been a diet roller coaster. I will get down to a great weight and then blow it. I will love my body and then I suddenly have no will power.
Recently, I haven’t been able to run and that has resulted in a severe depression that has led to me eating. I have once again allowed myself to dip into an unhealthy weight and once again I have to claw my way out of it.
It doesn’t matter how many times my dad tells me I look great, or the guy I’m dating tells me he loves my stomach, or my grandfather says that I finally look like myself, or my coworker tells me my body is banging, I hate it. I hate my body. Right now, while writing this I hate myself. I have let myself get somewhere that I never said I’d be again, and it’s scary.
But I know I have the strength to fight this, to get back to being who I am. It begins today and every day, the fight with my self image is real and alive, and I need to win this time, I NEED to win.