Love your body

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.

ana99i 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.

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