This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and as it has wore on, I have been at war with myself over writing this post. I have decided that, in order for people to better understand an eating disorder, I should share my story.
As a teenage girl in modern day society, it is hard to look past societal norms. Magazines are plastered with beautiful women and a the perfect picture of what society should be. Women everywhere, including myself, are fighting against the power of photoshop. Celebrities are posting the “before and after” photos. Zendaya Coleman, most recently, broke the internet when she confronted a magazine about editing her image in order to make her look “thinner” and “perfect.” I respect the woman she is for confronting a magazine about something so nasty. However, it was hard to be too shocked at any difference as she still looks beautiful in both photos.
No matter the measures being taken in the debacle, eating disorders are real and they affect not only the person going through them, but the people that surround that person. Friends, family, acquaintances, everything inbetween.
When I was a little girl, I was confident and carefree. I loved to be happy and that was enough for me. I never cared how I looked, I only cared how I felt. That all changed when I was around eight years old. My friends were trying on their older sisters high heels and I asked if I could try as well and they told me I was “too tall” for heels. After that I started feeling incredibly self concious of my height. I started noticing that I was a lot taller than most of the girls in my grade, that was a small nick in my confidence, at least for a year. When I was in fourth grade a friend of mine told me that my height made me powerful and more likely for a modeling job, so I started building my confidence to what it once was. Then a girl a lot taller than me moved to my area and I started feeling insecure of my height for the opposite reason from before. At this point I decided that I just couldn’t win. As I look back on this now, it makes me realize that the girls who told me not to wear heels only put me down because they wanted to be tall too, they were insecure of their height as well.
I went through a lot of stuff my first year of middle school and I started stress eating. I gained a lot of weight but my only insecurity was the words I spoke. I felt incredibly left out that year but the next year got better. Once again, I was back to the confident girl I once was. That is, until my first year of high school when boys started becoming part of the picture. I was never someone who was boy crazy and I prided myself in that. Nonetheless, in high school all of my friends were getting asked out and I mean all of them. I was the only girl out of all my friends who had not been asked out once by the end of freshmen year. That was a huge blow to my confidence and it made me question what was wrong with me. I remember looking at photos of my friends and I and searching for the difference between us, searching for flaws. I decided nobody wanted to ask me out on a date because I was fat and ugly. The most disguting thing about this, looking back on it, is that self confidence is incredibly hard to build and I let one thing, one stupid thing, completely obliterate mine.
When sophomore year rolled around, I was sure I had fixed my ugliness with a few shakes of foundation and a sweep of mascara. I was wrong. People started pointing out that I had no eyebrows and that was another blow to what little bit of false confidence I had gained with the makeup. Either way, I continued wearing the makeup becuase it made me feel good somewhere inside of myself. A long time during that year I wore baggy clothing becuase I was incredibly unconfident with my body.
My confidence plumeted during the summer of 2015, despite the fact that I learned how to fill in my eyebrows, I lost weight but gained an eating disorder. I started feeling as if I was unworthy of any food that I put into my body and so as soon as I put it into my body I made it come straight out. I was diagnosed with bulimia in December of 2015. It was scary to admit but it was a step in the right direction. I knew I needed help.
An eating disorder is a psychological disorder. When I was first diagnosed I told some friends and their lack of understanding made them question why I did it and why I chose to. An eating disorder takes over a person’s entire mind. It’s feeling inadequate and unjustifiable. The first time I made myself throw up, I was unsure of what I was doing. Every time since has been an impulse. I cannot control it but I am working on getting better and that is what’s important.
Eating disorders are primarily associated with girls but they are also experienced by boys. Confidence and self image are so incredibly fragile. The second that you set into someone’s mind that they are inadequate, you set something off inside of them that wants to strive for perfection. Sometimes the lengths that people take in order to meet perfection are drastic. As I deal with this I can only feel how much I am letting down the little girl I once was. I want to be her when I grow up.