This is an issue I’ve been meaning to address. Especially since last year (my freshman year of high school), my opinion on body image has been developing and changing a lot and I’ve experienced enough within the last week even to feel obligated to finally write about it.
Today in a class a girl was telling us how she wants to lose 20 pounds. Said girl cannot possibly weigh more than 130 pounds, and is at least 5’5″. Any BMI chart will tell you that she is a completely normal, and BEAUTIFUL weight. She does sports year-round and has an incredible body. Imagining her 20 pounds light not only is frightening because a 110-pound-her would be WAY too thin, but also because it was a change she felt was healthy and reasonable and necessary. The fact that she thinks losing 20 pounds, even if it’s done healthily, is okay means something is severely wrong not with her, but with what society has projected onto her.
I understand that this sounds hypocritical coming from someone who writes a blog about the very industry that condones the 6-foot-tall, 98-pound supergirl. I’m a completely materialistic and appearance-based person– I like what is tangible and logical and makes sense. Something I can touch and manipulate and CONTROL (clothing) is something I like. Do I put clothing above people? No. But I do find comfort in a things like my room, which I control the state of and can come home to everyday knowing it’ll be the same. Similarly, I’m very particular about what I put in my mouth– I’ve been vegetarian for 5 months, and vegan for about a month now. I’m vegetarian for animal rights reasons (influenced by these ladies) and vegan for health reasons (it makes me feel good). However, these things also give me control and knowledge of what I put in my body, which is something I take comfort in.
My fixation on food has not always been healthy, and I think to effectively explain why I love myself (which I do), I need to explain. For some reason, since as long as I can remember I had body issues. I was never a fat kid. At all. It was completely irrational, especially because I did competitive swimming for 6 years and other sports before that as well. As a little kid I loved hamburgers and ice cream and it was okay because I loved my carrots too, and between vegetables and being an active child weight was never a problem. However, the fact that I could push out my stomach enough to look “pregnant” eventually turned into really, really hating my body and not really knowing how to cope with that. In middle school my best friend was a stick, and it was unfair to me that she had a faster metabolism and ridiculously unhealthy body and could jump on a trampoline without feeling her excess body stuff jump with her. My body image issues were in no way her fault at all- they had always been present- but being surrounded with abnormally skinny girls all the time told me that I too should be abnormally skinny.
So in 8th grade, when I chose to quit swimming, my sister and I joined Weight Watchers in order to lose a little weight and just be healthier. I successfully lost 10 pounds but went to camp, started high school, and got pretty much back to where I started.
Here’s the thing though– yes, I had gained the weight back. But I was happier than I had ever been. High school was amazing, I was surrounded by the most incredible people I had ever met (marching band people), and everything was perfect. However, when the band season ended things slowed down and I still couldn’t lose the weight I had previously lost. Even upon returning to Weight Watchers in December I was unable to return to the weight I had previously reached, and schoolwork was catching up to me. I had less motivation for almost everything, and in the middle of winter, tired of unsuccessful attempted weight loss, I decided to take matters into my own hands, starting a thinspo blog and deciding that less food was more happiness, and that I wasn’t allowed to be happy until my body was.
Needless to say I was completely mentally unhealthy at this point. The fact that I honestly believed that 120 pounds at 5’2″ were too many pounds still astounds me. I knew I was thinking irrationally but as anyone with an eating disorder will tell you, rational thought isn’t really something often associated with any degree of an eating disorder. Luckily, in the spring I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team at my school and regained motivation for something bigger than myself. My thinspo blog moved farther and farther towards the back of my mind until finally my eating disorder was almost completely gone.
In the past few months my weight has fluctuated. I have completely healthy BMI and my highest weight hasn’t gotten any higher, and my lowest weight hasn’t gotten any lower. Everyday I become more okay with it. Everyday someone says something really nice that helps me to believe that what I see in the mirror IS skinny (because it is). Sometimes parts of my brain don’t connect with the others and it takes a little longer for me to believe it, but eventually I do.
I’d also like to add that I don’t wear makeup and wish no one would. Your parents made you. You’re beautiful. You don’t need makeup to be pretty. The prettiest you can be is what you have, which is already beautiful. The idea of covering anything up to be prettier makes me want to throw things. It’s incredibly unfair that anyone believes that they are more biologically unlucky than anyone else. Believing that you are beautiful is the only thing you can do to make yourself beautiful.
Any of my close friends will quote me saying things like “I’m really pretty/skinny/awesome”. And while I am 99% joking, there is an ulterior motive. The more I tell myself something, the more I believe it. Sometimes I need to remind myself everything I’ve done to get to my level of comfort with myself and that I deserve to believe that I am beautiful and skinny because I AM. It’s okay for me to know and be confident about what I look like. For some reason we’ve been brought up to be insecure and humble. Humility is great and everything, but if you’re pretty and skinny (WHICH YOU ALL ARE), there is no reason why you can’t be proud of that.
All this being said, I’m not superhuman. There are days when I wake up and look in the mirror and can only see flaws. There are days when I weigh myself and that number is all I see for the rest of the day. But at the end of the day, I am able to and deserve to tell myself that I’m beautiful and believe it. And you should be able to, too.
(Disclaimer: I don’t have an eating disorder anymore, please don’t pity me or anything dumb like that. Sharing that part of my story was necessary for my argument. I am not asking for help or drama about this. But thank you. Also I realize this same post has been posted before. I’m just ranting at this point.)
Footnote #1: Weight is just a number. But it’s a beautiful number, no matter how high.
Footnote #2: If you still aren’t okay with yourself after reading this (which I can’t really expect you to be), and want to talk about it, please email me, tell someone, or tell someone. You’re not alone and don’t have to be.
Footnote #3: Was this too personal for the internet? L0L JK I DON’T CARE.
Footnote #4: Personality > appearance
Footnote #5: I love you all you’re all beautiful ok this is the last footnote I promise.
Footnote #6: PLEASE LOOK AT THIS BABY BUFFALO IT’S SO CUTE
Footnote #7: Tavi also has an interesting stance on beauty if you’re interested in reading more stuff like this.