Back when I was a child, I was always on the thin side. I was never overweight and never had any problems with the way I looked. But as I got older and I started high school, I joined the cross country team along with the track team as well. I for some reason started to develop a body image problem, I saw others on the team who were fit and skinny and I wanted to look like them. The problem with this was I already did. I was not fat or chubby at all, but in my eyes I was. So at the age of 14, I started to not eat and on top of it, I was still running every day for cross country and track, both during practice, and on my own.
I would eat saltine crackers and anything else to try and trick my body into thinking it was getting enough food, to psychologically train my mind to think that was all that I needed. Even doing this, I still maintained the thought process that I was fat and no one would like me with the way I looked. It made no sense as to why I felt this way; I was never heavy and was thin during high school. I still don’t know why I slipped into that frame of mind, but my guess is that high school is rough and my grandpa died the year before and it was hard on me, but this doesn’t explain why I feel this way to this day.
This unhealthy thought process stayed with me though the first year of high school and into the second as well. Because of my eating habits, something major happened that affected me, something that would be hard on anyone at 16. As a result of this disorder, I lost a baby. This was a result of my constant eating problems and excessive exercise. This is something that I have never publicly announced, and was made to feel like it was wrong to talk about, and I shouldn’t ever voice it.
As the years went on, the eating problem went away and I was finally eating normally. The thoughts of me being fat went away as well. But they returned as a young adult with a vengeance almost like it was mocking me, laughing at me because I thought it had dispersed, it has stuck with me for some time now. For a long time now I have dealt with constant insults towards me, from myself. Talking and thinking badly of myself, telling myself I am fat again and again on a daily basis. Like when I was younger, I felt that no one thought I was pretty unless I was a size 1 or 2, weighing 100, which is what I got down to when I was younger. No one ever called me fat, no one even implied that I was even slightly big, but that’s not what I saw with my eyes.
To this day I still can’t be happy with the way I look, I am always feeling my stomach when I stand, when I sit, when I twist and I can feel the little rolls I have. It is constantly on my mind, never ends, it is relentless. I feel my chin to see if I have a double chin, my arms and how “big” they are, and how they jiggle. I look in the mirror and take pictures top see how fat my face has gotten, feeling disgusted with myself with the way I look.
I love eating but I hate eating, I hate that I think everything I eat puts on 5lbs, I hate that I am constantly thinking about food and my weight, and then binge eating to comfort myself, but then feeling guilty and mad at myself for binge eating. The thought comes to my mind “I just won’t eat tomorrow” or “I'll eat very little for a week.” Thinking that this will compensate for the fact that I just binge ate. I constantly look at other girls and wish I was them; it is such a bad feeling to have these thoughts and feelings it affects my life, my happiness.
There was a time in 2014 that I struggled with anxiety. This came out of nowhere, and it made me focus on loosing weight and working out. I did lose weight. I became so completely obsessed with working out and losing weight, that I worked out four to five times a week and did not eat and relied on protein shakes to get my through the day. From doing this for four to five days a week for two to three hours a day and not eating, I lost 23lbs, but I wasn’t a scrawny skinny. I was toned and fit looking on the outside. That was the happiest I have been with the way I looked, I was confident, but there was always something wrong with how I looked, I was not 100% happy.
But then I snapped out of this anxiety and stopped working out completely and put on 17 pounds again. This affected me in a bad way; I became depressed and caused at the feelings to come back, even worse this time. I would look at the pictures and cry, knowing I didn’t look that way anymore, and hating how I looked at the time. Then time passed, and this past summer I had a friend of mine who is a personal trainer, and he start training me. I was doing well, I was losing weight and losing inches and more importantly, I was gaining muscle and confidence again.
But again, at some point I stopped working out and put some weight on again. So presently I have gained weight due to binge eating yet again, and eating because I am stressed about gaining weight but yet I still continue to stress eat. Since getting a new job that has me sitting for 8 hours, I have put on a few pounds. Not everyone understands how it feels and how deeply it affects me. Countless people tell me how I look fine and how I’m not fat, but that is not how I see myself. I look in the mirror and see someone who looks disgusting and fat; I am always looking in the mirror, always judging myself to the hardest.
People just don’t understand that, even though you say I look fine or that I look good, it doesn’t mean I am going to see myself as that. I still cry about it, I still say to myself “Why can’t I just be happy with how I look? Why can’t I love my body?” There isn’t anything wrong with it, but right now I hate it, and I hate that I hate it.
Body image issues are common and they are not something to take lightly. there are many people with eating disorders. This doesn’t make them dumb; this doesn’t mean that they are weak. This is something real and something serious. People who don’t feel happy with themselves and how they look are not alone. People should be supportive of them, instead of brushing it off and making remarks that try to lighten the mood. Listen and understand what the the message that is being given, sometimes there is a cry for help and the people closest to them don’t hear it, don’t pay attention. This can not only be discouraging, but it can lead to other problems as well.