This is an old post that was originally published on an old blog. I wanted to share it here.
Every time NOW’s love your body day comes around (oct 20th), I think about writing something. i have before, but nothing here on this – rarely updated – blog. this past oct 20th i again thought about writing but did not. tonight at a friend’s house i watched ellen’s interview with portia about her new book unbearable lightness and i thought, well perhaps it is time.
over the years i have explored the concept of “loving your body” and what that means. the conclusion that i have come to is that loving your body means accepting yourself as you are; being willing to change what is realistic to change in a healthy way; but most importantly it is about health: treating yourself, your body with respect. it is not anti-fat acceptance, nor is it saying that any shape or body type is better than another, but that we treat ourselves like something that it is important. i had a hard time with the concept when i felt like i had to accept myself exactly as i was in order to be a “good feminist”. well back then i smoked, i rarely exercised, i drank alcohol heavily, and i ate badly – i was overweight because i wasn’t loving my body at all. the easy answer would be that i needed to accept myself as i was, but i got to be the way that i was precisely because i did not and have never loved my body.
i’m pretty sure that when people look at me they do not see “recovering anorexic”. i am not gaunt, i’m still about 30 pounds heavier than my ideal weight according to medical professionals/bmi even though i have lost approximately 30 pounds so far this year. i don’t have that “anorexic look” that many former anorexics in recovery have, and frankly as i look at myself sometimes i think “you are an anorexic’s worst nightmare.” that’s pretty harsh but it’s true. i’ve never had a problem with extremes, it’s the middle-ground that i have trouble with. i never got as bad as i could’ve. in fact i never dropped very far into an underweight bmi, but it’s the thinking, the rituals that are the real problem of overcoming an eating disorder, at least they were for me.
i don’t have a lot of photos from when i was at my lightest, but this is one before i went out one night. that skirt is a juniors size 3/4, i know because i still have it even though i have never been able to fit into it again. this was 1999-ish, i was around age 19.
watching portia tonight, talking to ellen about her book and her experiences was a difficult a teeny bit triggering. this comes on the week where i thought to myself “salad dressing has a lot of calories. no wonder i used to just eat lettuce with salt on it. that was smart.” of course i am now at the point where i mentally recoil and go, “oh no, that was not smart at all.” still, the line between healthy weight loss and slipping back into problem thinking is a fine one, and something that has terrified me for years. i don’t know if it is unique place to be, but i’ve never heard anyone talk about it. since i stopped restricting on a regular basis, i was never really a “normal” eater, but then what is normal for a woman in america today? i remember the photo of portia that they showed, of her at 85 pounds. my sister and i subscribed to quite a few magazines as teens: seventeen, cosmo, jane, glamor, details, spin, rolling stone, and that’s not even counting those we bought of the newsstand.
when i restricted on a regular basis, i ate a lot of chocolate covered espresso beans and went to starbucks a lot. it started off rather subtle; i’d purged for a summer in high school but never binged, eventually i stopped because i hated how out of control it made me feel. restricting was different though, restricting was all about control, strength. i went back to college, and i was terrified. i had only been to a community college for one semester, and it was in my small hometown. the community college in dayton, ohio was at the time 20 buildings and a parking garage larger than my old school. i started taking a creative writing poetry class and the professor wasn’t friendly in the least. i was afraid to talk to the other students that i deemed “cool”, i was just running on fear. the professor was so critical i started having trouble keeping food down, and thus restriction was born.
–2013 note: i never finished this post and kept it as a draft. i thought i’d publish it unfinished, because i really like the first few paragraphs about loving your body.