When I was younger, I was bullied for my weight and mental health issues. My peers poked fun at my body and openly harassed me during some of my classes. It almost felt acceptable because no one ever really got into any real trouble for any of it. That feeling of acceptability that was relayed to me through a lack of concern and action and a frequency of attacks, lead me to internalize all of it and turn it into a narrative about myself that still defines who I am.
Out of the bullying built the narrative that I am only defined by two things–my body and my mental illnesses. I wholeheartedly believed that I was not good enough, unlovable, disgusting, fat, and crazy among other things. I thought that this would be how my life would be for the rest of my life. Things, however, changed when all the self-hatred, other issues, and a seemingly innocent diet collided.
It was in college that I decided that I was going to lose weight. I no longer wanted to be all those horrible things that I defined myself by and I figured that losing weight would fix it for me. Of course I was completely wrong and losing weight would not fix how I felt about myself, but I started to lose the weight regardless.
The changes I made were small, gradual, and healthy at first. It was after losing enough weight that people started to notice my weight loss that I started to take notice myself of the progressive increase in compliments, friends, and life experiences I enjoyed. With each pound I lost, a new narrative started in my mind that I was actually good enough, lovable, etc. if I was thin enough. This change in my narrative shifted my behavioral changes from healthy to disordered and soon into a full-blown eating disorder.
I have spent years recovering from my eating disorder and it has only been within the last two that I have finally been able to stay behavior free. But what about that narrative I had about myself that I was only good enough, lovable, etc. if I was thin? I am still fighting it. Nearly every day. It is probably one of the most ingrained thoughts in my head, more-so than the eating disorder behaviors themselves.
I think about why I am still so stuck on believing I am only good enough if I am thin and it makes me reflect on how as a culture we have made fat shameful, unacceptable, disgusting, and something to avoid at all costs. We have taught children to start hating themselves at younger and younger ages and believing that they have to diet and be thin. It makes me so incredibly sad to hear children start believing what I believe about myself knowing what I did to myself to try to achieve an ideal that was never achievable.
But it also inspires me to fight. It inspires me to fight against the self-hatred for my body that I have had nearly all of my life. It inspires me to love my recovery body that I fought so hard for. It inspires me to get involved and let people know that diets, disordered eating, and eating disorders do not fix your problems or change how you feel about yourself for the positive.
My journey has inspired to become involved in organizations such as the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness Campaign (PEDAW). I believe wholeheartedly in loving the person you are and being able to recover from an eating disorder is absolutely possible. I am incredibly fortunate to work/have worked with these organizations and spread that message.
The next step in my journey and involvement is next week when I attend the BEDA Conference in Denver, CO. I cannot express how excited I am to attend this conference with some of the greats in the field. It is another step towards learning more self-love and acceptance and getting more involved. I look forward to immersing myself in topics on self-care, self-acceptance, health at every size, and weight stigma.
I hope you will all join me next week as I live-tweet (@kristinseattle) from the BEDA Conference and blog on my experiences there. I know that there will be lots to learn and grow from as I continue to learn how to love my recovery body and believe for myself that my worth, goodness, lovableness, etc. is not tied to my weight.