Breaking My Rules
For over a year not very long ago, I had a plethora of very strange rules for myself to follow. I could only eat certain things at certain times. I had numbers that dictated my actions, numbers of calories and daily intake percentages and pounds. It was a suffocating process; luckily, I never followed my regulations enough for it to impact my health. Still, it affected my mind quite a bit.
Perhaps more damaging to my self-esteem was my body image. Unlike the majority of the population, especially teenagers, I really don’t enjoy food very much. This made any disordered eating-type behaviors extremely easy for me.
Most of my friends are exceptionally thin, as in magazine-ad thin. Most of them are athletic and/or naturally thin; as far as I know, and I’m fairly confident, none of them are plagued by the eating disorders that attack so many young women in our age group. This was unbelievably frustrating for me, seeing one of them eat (literally) a bowl of ice cream, seven Oreos, thirteen caramels, and a glass of milk at one sleepover with no change in her body- but far more enviably, no change in her self-esteem. I couldn’t even eat in front of these people at this time. I would eat slowly and minimally and nothing of the “junk food” contingent whatsoever.
Due to being with a group of people who ate immense amounts of unhealthy food almost nonstop for the three months we were together, I quickly lost my self-consciousness about eating in front of others. I could finally understand why people all ate their Goldfish and apples during class at school, something that had always seemed unbelievably foreign, not to mention courageous, to me.
Because I know now that my image was so distorted before, I honestly can’t distinguish whether my weight has changed now that I can eat a cookie while sitting in the back of my history class or drink a glass of chocolate milk at a sleepover. Regardless, the guilt that constantly weighted down my mind has been released, which, for me, is infinitely more important. I can worry about other things; I have the perspective now that I recognize that this was never worth worrying about.
I was so afraid to admit this to anyone. I still am afraid to share that I even was that way, even though I’m not anymore. But reading books and articles and blog posts of other people, especially young women, who had suffered from similar behaviors was the one thing that liberated me. No one in my life, to my knowledge, suffered from these inhibiting regulations; I thought I was completely alone. The reason I’m sharing this is in hopes that it positively affects someone else to get help if he or she needs it.
Alexa also writes for Blossoming Badass
More articles by Category: Body image and body standards, Feminism, Girls
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Title IX, Gender bias, Discrimination, News