I have very distinct memories of myself looking down at the ground for most of my childhood. It was my perspective of the world for most of my experience growing up; walking down the street with my grandparents and not looking up at the sky or the trees around me. It was a gloomy outlook on life because in a way it increased my timidity, encouraged me to keep my head down and to never really question certain aspects of my upbringing.
There are certain subtleties that have only become evident recently because I started fitting my past experiences through the frame of a cause and effect diagram rather than a random flow of information and memories. Certain things had become normalized such as an uncle always feeling compelled to make a comment about how much food is on my plate, and that I'm having too much cake. Then losing weight during a lengthy depressive period without even realizing it, and being praised by my family for my newfound leaner appearance. Or while wearing Invisalign I was required to keep the aligners in my mouth for 22 hours a day, leaving only two hours to eat. I lost a noticeable amount then too and heard comments from family and friends jokingly saying they wish they wore the same braces I did to restrict themselves from eating. What I heard through those dialogues was "I wish I starved myself like you do".
Pre-quarantine I was aware of my odd eating habits, but I was very reluctant to change them. After the praise I had gotten for my leaner physique I thought I liked myself more when I ate less, so I did just that. The norm for months on end was to drink a cup of coffee in the morning, go to school, go to work, and then to go home and finally have another meal. Thinking back on it now, it's alarming how common that kind of regime was for other girls my age, who also considered coffee a meal, and similarly to myself left the taste of coffee in their mouths for the majority of their day until it nauseated them into skipping their next meal.
While in quarantine I've gained about 10+ pounds but - in all honesty - I'm loving it. I'm reluctant to say that I've only recently fully processed the fact that food is meant to nourish you rather than to harm you or your self-image. I've learned that indulging in certain foods rather than restricting myself isn't the worst thing in the world. For the first time ever I have looked down at my body and actually smiled, and the fact that that wasn't always my normal baffles me. I used to feel brittle when walking up too many flights of stairs and felt the need to nap often but now my legs feel stronger and I have so much more energy to accomplish what I need to.
Matters that go undiscussed can often be detrimental. I'm grateful to have made these realizations for myself and for having conversations with individuals with similar experiences to my own. We've been able to uplift each other and remind ourselves that our bodies are the least interesting thing about us.