Trigger warning: Eating disorders, body image
Genetic “body type” is a strange thing. For as long as I can remember, my older sister has been a size zero. Slim, tall, and willowy, with long legs and a flat stomach. She eats anything she wants at any time she wishes, while thinking of the nutritional value of none of it.
When I was 16 years old she said those words to me. I was standing, leaned against the couch in my Aunt’s living room, and she told me that I had thunder thighs, with a laugh in her voice. This, as is the case with almost anybody, was not the first time that somebody had said something negative about my body. This instance, however, stands out vividly in my memory.
That was the day I stopped eating.
This single comment wasn’t the cause of my spiral into the world of eating disorders. It was simply the catalyst for something that had already been growing. Having already been at a time in my life when everything felt like it was spiraling out of my control (as most things do at 16), I discovered that my weight was the one thing I could control.
It was easier than I thought. I would have an apple for breakfast, give away my small packed-lunch once I got to school, and put the majority of my dinner down the garbage disposable when my family had left the kitchen. I remember having moments of weakness and binge eating food late at night. I would then sit by the toilet and cry, because I physically could not make myself throw up. I felt as if I could feel my body absorbing all of the calories and turning them into fat.
My body, and my problems with my body, absorbed my every thought. I constantly pinched my stomach fat (a habit I still have not broken) to remind myself that it was there. I knew that I could be better. Other people had “perfect” bodies, right? So why couldn’t I do it? The thinness of my body was directly correlated with my self worth and it sickened me everyday.
I honestly don’t exactly remember when or why I started “getting better.” I do know that I still struggle with having “normal” eating habits to this day. I still cry whenever my sister makes seemingly harmless comments about my body. And I still think about that 16 year old girl that didn’t know that she was beautiful and feel sad for her.
This isn’t exactly a scholarly post, nor does it offer great insights about the body or my embodied experience as an insecure teenage girl. But I’ve never openly talked to anybody about these problems before. I don’t believe, even now, that I could share this story aloud. This blog seemed like as good a start as any, so here you go, world.