Battling Bulimia and Finding Body Positivity
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I have never been considered a “skinny girl.” I didn’t go through the tween phase of being able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. I always had baby fat that eventually turned into a curvier physique. Standing at only 5’2” as an adult and being rather petite my entire life, I haven’t had extra room to store excess weight.
I was 7 or 8 years old when I became conscious of the varying values placed on different body types. Though I know my parents were simply trying to ensure that I cared about my health, they didn’t hide the fact that they associated shame with weight gain and fuller figures. Throughout the majority of my childhood, I felt like I was growing up under a microscope that managed to only focus on my appearance while other more serious and deep issues brewed, unnoticed.
I was 15 years old the first time that I made myself throw up. I remember that it was difficult at first, but after a few tries, it came more easily. During a trip to Florida, my mother walked in on me leaning over the toilet. She whispered my full name and shook her head in what looked like disappointment before quietly shutting the bathroom door and proceeding to leave the hotel room. About 10 minutes later, I received a text message from her, telling me that if I wanted to get help, she would ask my grandfather to pay for a rehab program for me. She told me that due to her own issues with the same disorder, she could not help me. Instead, she simply begged me to stop and warned me that if I didn’t, I would never know peace in my own body. I lied to her and said that it was my first time trying it and that I wouldn’t do it again. For the next two years, I threw up after every meal I ate.
When I turned 18, I decided it was time to turn my life around. I was in the middle of starting community college and leaving a toxic relationship. I stopped throwing up, completely cold turkey, and turned to yoga and my new job as a hostess at a trendy restaurant in Dallas to help get me through. The urge and impulse to purge lingered for a long time, but it eventually faded. In fact, working at an upscale restaurant gave me a brand-new appreciation for food, and I realized just how much of an art form it truly was. At the same time, I put on weight.
It is strange to look back on pictures during that time, shaking my head at how silly I was for thinking I was overweight. It is surreal to look back even further at my childhood photos, only to see how jaded my own perception of my body was from early on.
It is strange to look back on pictures during that time, shaking my head at how silly I was for thinking I was overweight. It is surreal to look back even further at my childhood photos, only to see how jaded my own perception of my body was from early on. Throughout my adolescence, I wasn’t even close to being overweight. Yet the entire time I felt as though I was teetering on such a fine line of health, when in reality, it was a fine line of acceptance.
During my senior year of college, after transferring to UC Santa Barbara, I managed to meet my ideal weight for the first time in my existence. I was thin. I weighed 110 pounds and I liked the way I looked. Unfortunately, I was also miserable. I was in therapy and had been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I was barely hanging on in school and work, and my personal life felt like it was about to implode. On top of that, I was trying to plan for life after college, let alone life in Los Angeles. I wasn’t well, but I looked the way I wanted.
I remained close to that ideal weight for two years after college, gaining a few pounds here and there. However, I was still just as anxious. Just as unhappy. Just as unsatisfied. In 2019, things began to change. Like most people in their 20s, I began to feel more sure of myself. I began to love other things more than my body or my looks. I started to appreciate more important and meaningful aspects of myself I had not taken time to look at before, mostly because I was too caught up looking at what I found wrong in my appearance. It wasn’t that I stopped caring, I just stopped thinking about it as much. That lack of thought opened up space for new thoughts about new things. Thoughts about deeper things.
Since the pandemic started, I have put on weight. I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Despite this, there are changes I would like to make, both for my confidence and my overall health, I have found peace among my imperfections. While some people say that we need to love our bodies unconditionally, I wouldn’t say that I’m there quite yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever be there, and I know there are other women who feel the same. Trying to strive for that kind of self-love before you are ready can lead to disappointment and frustration. I have found with just a little bit of patience, peace is more easily achieved than expected. Finding peace in imperfection is more than enough, and it is more than I ever thought I would have.