So I started writing this and it quickly turned into a novella so I figured it would be best to break it up into three parts, that way you are not stuck reading a 2 hour long dissertation but it will also give me the chance to really explore some ideas and to be a bit more honest. I first started thinking about writing this several months back when I realized that I hadn’t really shared the why, when and how of my journey. I mean I have explained that I started using my blog as a way of sharing, keeping myself accountable and hopefully building a community, but I never really gave any background in how I got here in the first place. It has taken me some time to build up the courage to share all of this with you because well it is personal and as much as I do try to be very open and honest with you, my readers; it can at times be quiet intimidating. After much time and deliberation here it goes.
Part One: While I was Sleeping
As long as I can remember – so high school really- I have had always taken issue with the way in which I perceive my body. I was never particularly “large” but I definitely was not a “skinny” kid, and I would have most likely been considered to be an overweight kid. But before all these issues with body image and self appreciation came into it, I was a pretty happy kid, I participated in track, soccer, distance running and running around. It was right around the beginning of high school I started to withdrawal a little.
In grade 9 I moved from Alberta over to Ontario which was an interesting experience. The move introduced me to many new things, one of which I feel in love with hard. I had been introduced to a new dish, poutine and I couldn’t get enough of it. Obviously poutine wasn’t the route of the problem, nor was it its delicious gravy and cheese covered self’s fault that I struggled to love the body I had but it definitely helped to fuel my cycle of self disappointment.
By about the age 13 I had stopped most forms of activity that weren’t ordered by the school board. My withdrawal from sports and activity came around the same time that I remember my first thoughts of inadequacy, whether I was comparing myself to the other girls in my class, or the women I saw on TV or in magazines I just felt like I came up short. This feeling came with more than just wanting to be someone else but was couple with feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin, my body went from something that just was to something I was ashamed of and hated.
It was then that I started reading YM, Cosmo, and any other magazines looking for get skinny quick tips. Under the guidance of my favourite magazines I would have my lunches packed full of low fat yogurt and carrots, or throwing it out skipping lunch completely in an attempt to shred those pounds. These “diets” never lasted more than a week or two before I caved and ordered a poutine feeling nothing but guilt and shame as I ate it.
The eating habits I cultivated in high school stuck with me for years as I went on trying one new craze after another, making unhealthy and uneducated choices in the hopes that this time there would be new results, and I would turn into that girl I hoped to be. Unfortunately without fail I would lose a couple pounds feel discouraged and then binge like there was no tomorrow. I had become so involved in my body image, and was getting my information from all the wrong sources that I had no idea how big of a disservices I was doing to my body.
Then came university, I had ultimate control over what I ate, when I ate, what I drank and how much I drank. This freedom felt amazing; it was strange release to be able to choose my food. Unfortunately, with this new feeling of freedom did not come healthier life choices but they were mine and that made me happy, enter my first real university boyfriend (which in itself is a story for another time), let’s just say he was pretty concerned about my body image. As I was already very sensitive to this it didn’t take long before I had forfeited the newly acquired power over my food, and passed it onto someone else. My meals were chosen, measured and divided up for me decided for me and the pounds started to melt away. By the end of my first year university I was the skinniest I had and ever have been. In 6 months went from a size 12-13 pant to a size 4- 5 and I was elated, since I could remember all I wanted was to be a size 5 it just seemed like such a perfect size. Although I was ecstatic about finally being a “skinny” girl I was no happier with my body, losing the weight didn’t make me like myself more as I had thought it would. Soon this relationship thankfully came to an end and I eventually feel back into my old eating patterns and gained back most of the weight I had lost.
It was this experience that led me to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t all about my weight; maybe this uncomfortable feeling had nothing to do with being overweight. Over the years I had placed so much of who I was in the number that appeared on the scale or the fat powering over my pants or the jiggle of my under arm skin, that I had completely ignored who I was who I was becoming. To me being a good person wasn’t about being smart, funny, kind or generous it was about being what someone else’s idea of desirable was.
Unable to figure out a way to start liking myself and being satisfied with who I was I retreated once again. I decided to say screw it, eat what I want and have fun. It was time to work on my personality a little bit and to do my best with letting go of my body image. This was probably the beginning of me deciding to move on, to attempt to find something that would work for me. Although body image was definitely something that I was still in a deep struggle with I figured it was time to wake up and stop sleeping my way through my struggles.
Sorry to get so “deep” on a Tuesday. I will post the next installment of this series next week so stay tuned.