I’ve been annoying the hell out of my partner J the last month. I keep asking if I’ve lost weight. They keep saying things like ‘I don’t know’, ‘Not that I can tell’ or ‘Why does it matter?’
That last comment is very important.
It made me pause and think. I started to look at myself in the mirror. I saw my familiar back-rolls, the ones I have battled with ever since they emerged. I saw my dimply butt, my double chin and my protruding tummy. And I realised something. My body hadn’t changed. But my attitude towards it had.
And my thought process is so warped that I thought that because I felt happier in my body, it must have meant that I had lost weight. I couldn’t imagine a world where I just felt happy in my body in its current form. My eating disorder experience, lumped in with societal expectations, had caused me to internalise the bullshit that my body would only be worthy of love at a smaller size. So when I started to love my body, I assumed it had gotten smaller.
But it hadn’t. What had gotten smaller was the pressure I put on myself to look a certain way. The loathing. The self-hatred. The cruel thoughts and mistreatment of my body. In truth, that’s a lot of weight to shed from one’s shoulders.
I view eating disorder recovery much in the same way that many people view addiction recovery. Just as many people view themselves as eternal addicts who could slip up at any moment, I view my eating disorder as an ever present part of my psyche. It is something I am always managing. I could (and have) slip up at any moment.
And this process was a reminder of that. My fear of fat is deeply rooted. I hate it. I want to change it. I feel as though I am slowly chipping away at it everyday. Little by little. But it is obvious I still have work to do.
Something that has helped me a great deal is following diverse bodies on social media. The media is overly saturated with one type of body. White. Blonde. Blue eyes. Slim. Exposing myself to all sorts of bodies has really changed how I feel about my own body. I follow Instagram accounts featuring disabled bodies, gender diverse bodies, fat bodies, skinny bodies, all the colours of the rainbow bodies. It has really helped me to see myself in a new light.
That’s an important part of recovery: changing the way that you self-socialise. When I was in the depths of my eating disorder I only looked at one type of body. I only thought one type of body was worth while. I only talked about and dreamed about one type of body. And it wasn’t my body. Breaking down that cycle has been huge for me and my recovery journey.
Learning to accept yourself exactly as you are is difficult. Unfortunately, we live in a society consumed with the idea of ‘fixing things’. But I’m getting to the point where I am realising that I don’t need to be fixed. I need to be free. To live. To thrive. To grow. And blossom. And I can’t do that if I am constantly fixating on changing myself.