There is something that almost no one knows about me; something that I have kept to myself for years and struggled with internally.
I have such a love/hate relationship with food that it borderlines on being an eating disorder.
I have always fought with myself when it comes to food, but I didn’t realize the extent of my problem until we talked about eating disorders in my psychology classes.
For as long as I can remember, I have obsessed over what I eat– and not in a way that urges me to eat healthy.
I love food, abso-fuckin-lutely love it. I love to cook, try new foods, indulge in desserts, pin recipes that look amazing but i never get around to making. But it is what happens in my mind afterwards that is unhealthy.
I berate myself for eating too much or for eating something that is not 100% healthy. I obsess over it, send myself into a downward spiral of depression just because of my food choices. Eventually, the thoughts subside because of other things going on in my life, but the cycle repeats itself at the next meal. Even as I eat something and know that I will punish myself later, I continue to indulge. It is a harsh, unrelenting, and punishing ritual that I put myself through each and every time.
The thing of it is, I am not overweight in any way. I have been between 140 and 150 since high school, and a large part of that is in my big boobs.
I cannot remember the exact moment that I decided to do this to myself, but it had to have been somewhere after being told that I needed to eat all of the adult-portioned-sized food on my plate and before being told that I was getting a little ‘pudgy’. Looking back, I don’t think that the remarks were meant to break something in me; they were said to me by people who loved me. They were concerned adults, and I hold no blame over them.
No, this was my own issue, and it has gone hand in hand with the depression and manic behavior that I am finally getting under control.
I remember at one time in my life that I would get a stomachache after every meal. I began to eat less and less, relying on the excuse that I just didn’t feel well. I’ve since learn that this was most likely psychosomatic, meaning that my mind created the symptom because of anxiety over eating.
This is my new mantra. I have to stop being at war with myself, not only for my own health, but for the little ones who watch my every move. I refuse to raise a daughter or son who feels as absolutely empty about their self image as I do.
So the question is, how do we break the cycle of negative body image in such a critical and mean world? How do I teach my kids to love themselves when I don’t love myself, and when the outside world only focuses on their flaws?
These questions are constantly on my mind. Growing up in a household with 3 other women, I was never really taught positive body image. We didn’t tear each other down (at least, not that I remember), but I don’t think we ever built each other up either.
I have to correct this. I have to end the cycle of self-hate and work toward loving myself. This also means that I need to stop trying to find validation in the things other people say about me. The other day, my husband mentioned that I am bony. Although I am a size 10 with a ‘mommy pooch’ and absolutely no thigh gap, my rib cage and hip bones are prominent. I actually felt joy in the fact that he said I was bony. It was close to that elation of being told that you look to have lost weight.
So, what is my first step?
I absolutely love Jennifer Lawrence, and I love her mission for a better body image. Robyn Lawley, the Australian model, inspires me in this too. So maybe that is where the inspiration lies– finding people who set a great example for myself and my kids. Although I hate diets, I am considering this whole Paleo thing. And I’ll be honest, people have heard me talk about exercising and getting healthier before, only to see when I fail miserably. The difference between all those times and now is that my mind is in a healthier state. I think that I am more likely to fight for myself, rather than fight with myself if I am mentally capable of sticking to it.
So, perhaps, finally getting treatment for my bipolar depression is the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
The lesson here is that self love may be a struggle, but it is something that needs to be taught to our children. Love of others can be just as important, which means that women really need to stop bashing on each other’s bodies!