I don’t have a diagnosed eating disorder and that makes me sad. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but what I mean is that I think it's wrong that my daily obsession with counting calories, my attempts to drink copious amounts of green tea because it supposedly speeds up your metabolism, and my complete inability to forget about my weight is pretty much considered normal. Wikipedia informs me that “Eating disorders refer to a group of conditions defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual's physical and mental health.”
I don’t fit into this category because I never fell ill, no one ever commented that my weight was unhealthy, and no one worried, despite the fact that I swung between binge-eating and eating 600 calories in a day. What seemed to make this OK was that girls often told me I had the perfect figure, and that I was so lucky I could eat chocolate cake and be so skinny. Plenty of my friends “went ano” before special occasions, and so these eating patterns continued until about a year ago.
I have days where I think, "Hey, I don’t have a model’s body, but I am slim. It’s crazy that I obsessively count calories to make sure I don’t go over 1750, and make sure I exercise enough to burn at least 250 calories.” Then there are the days where I can’t look in the mirror because I think my thighs are so hefty, and I see myself slipping back into a dangerous place, and I count the calories to make sure I’m eating enough.
As someone who considers myself a feminist, I feel like I’m betraying myself. I am healthy and fit and I know, deep down, that I am not overweight, so why am I letting these unrealistic, Photoshopped aspirations of perfection that I see constantly affect me so much? Am I bad feminist for wanting a thigh gap or am I just another teenage girl our modern society has damaged?
I recently graduated from a small all-girls school where nearly everyone was on a diet, and thinspo was abundant. In this environment, counting calories was second-nature, so I never felt that I should be pitied for my obsession with fitting into a European Size 6. Wikipedia adds to my confusion telling me “Some people consider disordered-eating patterns that are not the result of a specific eating disorder to be less serious than symptoms of disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Others note that individual cases may involve serious problems with food and body image. Additionally, certain types of disordered eating can include symptoms from both classic cases of anorexia and bulimia, making disordered eating just as dangerous.”
It makes me sad that I’m not the exception, that girls today are so lacking in self-esteem that I am just a drop in the ocean of girls on crash diets. I don’t think I’ll ever change, but I know that part of the reason I am a feminist is that I want to change things so my situation isn’t normal.
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