Fatkinis in Paradise

Back in January, my family and I made plans to go on a giant summer vacation together to Cabo San Lucas. It’d be the whole gang — my parents, my siblings and siblings-in-law, my sister’s parents-in-law (they actually have a timeshare down in Cabo, and are prett much the whole reason this thing is happening), Sean, and me — and the timing, I figured, would be perfect! I’d have more than six months to get my body back to bikini-ready shape after typical holiday-season slacking. It was just the motivator that I needed to get back on the wagon and drop some libbies again, right?

Weeeeell, actually, wrong (as we already know.) I have indeed managed to shave off about 20 – 25 pounds from what I had regained, which is awesome, but in the months since I have clearly stopped making any attempts to hide the fact that I’m not actively dieting anymore. And yet, this tropical vaycay was still looming, looming, looming… and I realized that sooner or later, I’d have to face my body and whether it was bikini-ready or not.

Now, first up, my feelings about the term “bikini body” in general can now pretty much be summer up by the following (adorable) graphic:

But even so, hey, I’m not immune to the pressures that society puts on people to want to look a certain way. I mean, I’m a mass consumer of media in all its various forms, so of course I’m not, hahaha. So I would be lying if I said that the idea of baring skin by the poolside didn’t cause me at least a little bit of stress. But you know me, I’ve never really been able to subscribe to the idea that skinny feels better than food tastes or whatever, so ultimately it came down to whether I wanted to get myself all bent out of shape over how I looked at the beach, or if I wanted to, you know, continue enjoying my life the way it is. And I mean, I know I probably sound super douchey saying it out loud, but my life is pretty stellar right now.

S0 since I am, at least currently, totally uninterested in torturing myself both physically and mentally over a vacation (which, hello, is supposed to be relaxing anyway), I came to realize that the best way for me to get beach-ready probably wasn’t to agonize endlessly over my bodily imperfections. No, I’d take a different approach.

Rather than forcing myself to do a juice cleanse in the hopes that it’d shave another 1/4 of an inch off my general body circumference, I decided to do a mental cleanse instead. I rejected the notion that summer is limited to people who wear single digit sizes. I faced the fact that I am really not as important as I make myself out to be, and people out there enjoying their own vacations really don’t give two hoots what I, some random stranger with outrageously colored hair, am wearing at any given time.

I know, I’ve talked a bit about this kind of body acceptance before, of course, because it’s always been true. But my past posts were written with the looming idea that I still needed to lose weight. So, you know, I could love my body and all, sure. But in the back of my mind I was still telling myself, “Just don’t love it so much that you stop wanting to fix it.”

Weeeeell, obviously I have a little bit of a different perspective about things now. I don’t want to have to fix anything anymore. And you can say that’s just me being lazy, but it’s not going to change the fact that I fully embrace the fact that any body really can be a bikini body. After all, just like bodies, bikinis come in lots of different shapes and sizes. And whether you have thunder thighs or flat butt syndrome or belly flab or big boobs or small boobs or no boobs, you’d be pretty amazed at how great a relatively tiny amount of fabric can make you feel, if it’s the right cut.

This idea of there being different swimsuits for different bodies isn’t news, of course. I’ve been reading magazines for years, all offering advice on what swimsuits work best for different body types. Small bust, wide hips, broad shoulders, hourglass, there were options for all, and the features usually even came with photos of real-life women illustrating the effects of properly allocated swimwear.

In retrospect, though, I realize that while these articles might have been a great way to showcase poolside fashion, they still fell into the trap that a lot of  mainstream fashion does when it comes to dressing one particular type of body shape: they don’t really know what to do with it, so they just cover it up. Which, yes, granted, not everyone has a nice flat tummy to showcase between the top-part and bottom-part of your swimsuit, but does that mean we’re not allowed to show it at all?

I have distinct memories of flipping through magazine pages as the feature addressed pear-shaped and straight-shaped and hourglass-shaped figures and showcased adorable, fashionable bikini looks for each of them, only to finally get to the “Full Figure” or “Plus Sized” section at the end and have it be full of one-pieces and tankinis.

Yeah, kinda like that.

And hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some might fine one-pieces and tankinis out there. I’m a big fan, myself.

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Terrible iPad selfies aside, this is literally my favorite suit to ever exist in the history of swimwear. I pretty much just hung around the house wearing it all yesterday afternoon because I didn’t want to take it off, that’s how much I love it. I mean, aside from the whole wet swimsuit + full bladder predicament that surfaces every once in a while, I’m all about the one-piece. But I think you know that really isn’t where my issue lies.

I just don’t love the message that it sends when the media showcase all these different kinds of women looking fab in two-piece swimsuits… except for one kind. Because even larger, thicker, curvier, whatever-er women can still look totally bangable in ‘kinis, and not showcasing that fact, as unintentional as it may be, still perpetuates the idea that we should be hiding our bodies because there’s something wrong with them.

Luckily, I think the tide is finally beginning to turn on that front. Maybe it’s due to the resurgence of vintage-style clothing coming back into vogue (high-waisted bottoms FTW!), or maybe it’s because of body positive figures like GabiFresh (I believe she’s the originator of the term “fatkini”), but either way, I am so on board with all women being able to wear whatever the hell they want and hopefully feeling beautiful and confident while doing so.

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Which is why next week you will see me, proudly rocking my own fatkinis (given how much I’ve admitted to hating the word “fat,” I actually really love the term “fatkini”) and maybe even inspiring other women to do the same. It’s your body, after all. Wear what you want!

And that goes double when on vacation.

All About That Bass

I am not a petite woman. This we know. At 5’9″ and 200 pounds, nobody would ever describe me as a small person. Which, as the mission of this blog tries to convey, is something that I’m coming more and more to terms with every day. Hey, I’m curvy, I gots booty, it ain’t no thang, right?

Well, unfortunately, as most of our media-laden, celebrity-stricken society continues to perpetuate bias against the big gals, just because I’m getting more comfortable with myself doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. Sure, there’s less straight-out animosity towards us totally lazy and disgusting fatties, but all that former vitriol seems to have simply been replaced by concern-trolling under the guise of being worried about the health of every plus-sized person in the world.

And while there are songs out there that celebrate the whole concept of being beautiful on the inside (Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” comes to mind), there has yet to be a Billboard chart-topper that specifically celebrates what we’ll go ahead and call the non-ideal body standard.

Enter: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” which my friend Lara sent to me just yesterday. First off, this is the catchiest song you’ll probably hear all summer, and I apologize in advance for the fact that once you listen to it, you will DEFINITELY have it stuck in your head for the rest of eternity.

Aside from possessing an outrageously catchy chorus, however, the song also has a pretty empowering message. As Meghan (looking absolutely fab-u-lous) sing-talks:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

Of course, it’s difficult to ride the line between empowerment and appreciation for one body type without dissing another. As a cursory glance at the comments section on Youtube will tell you (once you’ve tossed out the ones trolling on Trainor’s appearance, since we know all the dregs of humanity hang out in the Youtube comments section), there are quite a few folks who feel that Trainor’s song crosses the line into body-shaming, particularly with this line:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that

“Skinny shaming!” they cry. “I don’t have a booty, so you’re saying boys don’t want me?” they ask. And, to be honest, with my new persona of a body positive lady (and that’s all bodies, yo!), I was ready to jump on the bandwagon with them at first. After all, body image issues exist for women who are 80 pounds, women who are 280 pounds, and women everywhere in between. So regardless of whether you are bootylicious or a skinny bitch, I can see why some people took offense to that line.

But I also think it’s more complicated than that.

Putting aside the fact that the music industry is just as responsible for perpetuating the ideal of thinness as the television and movie industries (I swear, if I hear one more person say something about Adele’s weight…), if you really look at the full lyrics of the “skinny bitches” line, I think it’s obvious that there’s a different kind of message at play here:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
Nah, I’m just playing I know y’all think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

So, sure, it’s in a lyrical, rhyme-y way (since, let’s remember, this is a SONG which means the lyrics have to sounds good first and foremost, which has the potential to affect the clarity of one’s message), but Trainor is obviously not saying, “Skinny bad! Fat good! Yarrrr!” Rather, she’s saying that everyone’s got messed up body image (which they probably do), and in spite of that, everyone is already perfect (which they probably are). So instead of dissecting her word choice, let’s go ahead and bask in the warm fuzzies of that sentiment, shall we?

Here’s the bottom line for me: just having not-Megan Fox’s body in today’s day and age is hard enough on a personal level, let alone on a public one. Weightism is one of the most accepted forms of discrimination still occurring today, and since it’s just a fact that being fat is always going to garner way more criticism and judgment than being thin, I say that any attempt to make The Ideal Body more realistic is worth it.

So, yes, I am indeed all about “All About That Bass,” and its outrageously catchy bottom-line message:

Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.

The Power of Words

I like words.

I mean, I must, right? I wrote an entire book that consists of over 80,000 of them, and I’m working on another. (Slowly, slowly, hahahaha.)

I don’t know if it’s because of the whole Shakespearean pen being mightier than the sword thing, or if it’s just because I love to hear myself talk (which, of course, I do), but I just really like words.

There are quite a fair few words that I have a particular affinity for. I don’t just like them, I really like them. Words like:

  • Effervescence
  • Proclivity
  • Defenestrate (literal meaning: to throw out a window)
  • Irrevocable
  • Kerfuffle
  • Ineffable

But then, conversely, there are a handful of words that I really, really, really hate.

And I don’t just mean the bad words, you silly goose, I mean that there are a few words out there that incite nails-on-a-chalkboard-esque cringing from me. Maybe it’s because of the sound it makes when you say it aloud, maybe it’s because of the way it looks when it’s spelled out, maybe it’s because of its meaning (or the fact that nobody seems to know how to actually use the word correctly — I’m looking at you, irony), maybe it’s because OH MY GOD THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY A REAL WORD. A-hem. But for whatever reason, some words are just the worst.

And because I love you guys oh, so very much, I’m going to go ahead and, potentially causing myself (and other word-sensitive folks) irreparable harm, list some of them:

  • Moist
  • Irregardless
  • Squirt
  • Viscous
  • Phlegm
  • Sanguine (most confusing word ever — it’s derived from the Latin word for blood and yet means optimistic?!)

So, yes, I guess I should refine my original statement to say that I like most words. But I think I should note that the word I hate most in my entire earthly existence isn’t even on this list. It’s a word that I hate so very, very much that I don’t know if I want to write it again here now.

And what is this awful, terrible, no good, very bad word, you ask?

  • Fat

hate the word “fat.” I hate it so much that sometimes I get angry just thinking about it. And do you know why I hate this word so much? It’s not because of its meaning, or because of how it sounds, how it’s spelled, or any of that.

It’s because I honestly think that I could trace almost every bad feeling I’ve ever had about myself, every ounce of self-loathing I’ve ever felt for my body, every time I binge ate, every time I forced myself to throw up, and even now, the self-worth I feel as a (sort-of) adult, to that word. So many of my thoughts and actions throughout my life have gone into attempting to avoid being called that word. 

I hate that any word in any vocabulary of any language has ever had that kind of power over me.

My first memory of being called fat is still vivid. “Aiyah, you’re getting fat,” was precisely how it was phrased, a few words from an aunt who I’m sure had no idea the impact those words already had on me. She didn’t really mean anything by it, I’m sure. I couldn’t even tell you exactly how old I was — 8, 9 maybe? — but that comment marked the exact moment I consciously realized that getting fat was bad. (I don’t know if it’s important to note or not, but I was not a heavy kid. My struggle with my weight really began when I hit puberty.)

Of course, I’d soon come to realize that it wasn’t just bad to be fat, it was the worst possible thing you could do as a girl. By most of modern society’s thinking, that is. Forget being cruel, bigoted, jobless, uneducated, selfish… no, no, being fat was, of course, much worse. I like to think that the tide is beginning to turn on that particular train of thought, but then I make the grievous mistake of reading the comments on certain posts on Facebook and, well… whether it’s under the guise of concern-trolling or it’s actual hatred for non-standard body types, people are pretty damn nasty.

I know that for me, even with the strides I’ve taken and how far I’ve come in my journey of self-acceptance, I still fear being called fat. Lately my emphasis and goals have been in accepting and loving my body as-is, and so I try to exude an aura of self-confidence and body love despite of — or rather, because of — my size. But in reality, I am still so affected by the words and opinions of others, and I’m still afraid of other people calling me “fat.”

There are a lot of awesome folks out there working hard to redefine the word “fat,” and regardless of your feelings about the merits of being fat vs. thin, or of your opinions about what it means to be at a healthy weight, I think that’s something we should all support. This isn’t a post about fat acceptance or the obesity epidemic, it’s about taking away the power from a word that can, at least in my experience, cause immeasurable harm to one’s ability to love oneself.

This is about taking one more small step towards being able to take back the word “fat,” to reclaim it, to return it to its roots. Roots that most definitely did not include making someone feel like they are less worthy, less beautiful, or less deserving of love just because of their size. For all the nine-year-old girls out there who are barely on the cusp of learning what it means to own their body at all, I think it’s so important that we do start to turn that tide.

“Fat” is just a word. It’s a word that, in this context, is used to describe appearance — the same as “thin” or “fit” or “tall” or “short” or “brunette” or “blonde.” But we have injected so much significance and negativity into those particular three letters, that it has the power to affect us more than any of those other words ever could. (Well, I guess you could argue that the word “thin” has as much of an affect, just in a different, much more positively accepted way.) So in attempt to take one small step towards changing that, if for nobody else but myself, here I am, embracing it. This is my personal attempt to redefine that no good, very bad word in my life:

I am fat. I have fat on my body, just like every other human being on this planet. I have more than some, and less than others, and the particular amount of fat that anyone has does not define their worth as a person.

Of course, I’m sure I’d still feel less than amazing than if someone else were to call me fat, since my natural inclination is to assume everyone else does so with the implication of judgment and insult attached, but hey, it’s a step, right? And while I do hope one day that, as a society, we can help de-awful-fy my least favorite word, for now, I’ll just work on making these words more of a fixture in my vernacular:

  • Worthy
  • Beautiful
  • Honest
  • Significant
  • Memorable
  • Wonderful

Mirror Image

Hi! So, notice anything new around these parts?

Yep, that’s right, I’ve got a brand spankin’ new theme to go with my brand spankin’ new blog server. I was having MUCHO ISSUES…O with the website over the past few weeks, as many of you probably (and unfortunately) noticed. So my brother/web tech extraordinaire helped me migrate over to a new host, which should hopefully mean no more 404 error pages, and NO MORE WEIRD AD REROUTING! Huzzah!

I’m still working out some of the layout and design stuff, so let me know if there’s anything in particular you really miss about the old layout, or if you hate something about this new one, or whatever. I’d love to hear your input!

In other news, my book is OFFICIALLY BEING RELEASED THIS MONTH! Let that settle over you for a sec. I’m in the VERY FINAL (I know I throw the word “final” around here a lot with regard to my book, so I wanted to make sure you knew it was REALLY final this time, hahaha) editing phases, thanks to a few very talented and verrrrry patient individuals that probably totally regret ever agreeing to work with me. Heh. I’m pretty satisfied with where the book is overall, but I’m just trying to get rid of all those nasty typos and weird/awkward sentences. Because I love you guys so much. If any of you have a Goodreads account, you can also officially add Terra to your “To Read” list! I created a profile for the book this morning. 🙂

Okay, so down to the actual crux of this post. This morning, I had this weird, crystallizing moment of clarity this morning, and it was kind of awesome. I was just standing around in my bra and undies, getting dressed and ready for my day. And I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My stomach wasn’t sucked in, my hands weren’t on my hips, I wasn’t coyly putting my weight on one leg. I wasn’t employing any of my tricks to make myself seem thinner, or shapelier, or whatever-er. I was just, standing. I might have even been bending over a little (and I think we all know what bending over does to even the flattest of stomachs, let alone nice rolly-polly ones like mine). But I wasn’t thinking of any of that stuff. All I thought was, “Hey, that’s one normal-looking chick.”

Now, you have to understand, I don’t mean to word this in a self-deprecating way, and I’m definitely not fishing for compliments (this time, hahahaha). For someone like me, someone who has struggled with self-image and body image and loving my body and loving myself for SO long, just feeling normal is a huge victory. I try to preach a lot about loving yourself as you are, embracing the body you have now, etc. I even post pictures of myself from my vacations, totally out there (well, not TOTALLY out there, but in my bikini), because I’m trying to prove that I really believe all of that. And some days, I do.

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But let’s be honest. Most days, I’m really embracing the “fake it” part of “fake it ’til you make it.” And most days, if I had my way, there is probably no limit to the number of things I would give up in exchange for a thin, svelte body. I know that. I mean, hell, the whole reason I started this blog was because of my vanity. Sure, along the way I discovered myself, I discovered all the benefits of being healthy, and I realized that there are a lot of things that are better than just being skinny. But at the very core of my being, OF COURSE I still want to be thin.

Now, that said, I think today was a pretty important step for me, too. Because for the first time in a really LONG time, I looked at myself in the mirror — REALLY looked at myself — and I didn’t hate on a single thing. Yes, my stomach isn’t flat. Yes, I am still a lot more zaftig or voluptuous or hefty or ::shudder:: fat than a lot of women out there. But who says that has to be a bad thing? I’m squishy and soft, which means I’m a lot of fun to hug. I’ve got giant bazoomas, which means dressing up to go out can be kind of fun (though dressing for work can often be challenging). I have an hourglass figure, which means I have a nice, proportional waist even if my hips are wide or my thighs touch.

I know that I’ll have good days and bad days. I know I’ll still have days where I wish that every single thing about me was different, and that all my problems would go away if I was just a little thinner. But I like to think that this is the start of me having quite a few good days, too. Days when I don’t question why my boyfriend is attracted to me or think that every other woman on the street is judging me. Days where I feel confident and sure of myself, not just because I’m funny or witty or a good writer or any other number of non-physical traits, but because I look perfectly fine.

And I think that’s pretty cool. Yes, I still want to tone up, and I want to present the best possible version of myself. But I think I’m finally getting my head wrapped around the idea that the best possible version of myself doesn’t have to be “thin.” She just has to be me. A happy, healthy me.

Man, I sound so well-adjusted. I’d better cut myself off before you all start to get the wrong impression of me, eh? 🙂

<3

You’re Not Alone

All right, let me say right up front that I think the subject matter of this post may be potentially triggering for someone who might be struggling with body image, destructive thoughts, disordered eating, or self-hatred. However, I received such an amazing response from readers on my last why-so-serious post (“Ghost“) that I feel compelled to dive a little further into it.

I talk a lot about honesty. I am really pretty honest in this blog. Sure, it’s not a complete and totally unfiltered retelling of my life (I probably drop a lot more F-bombs in real life than I ever would on here, haha), but nothing really is. I don’t pretend like this is ALL of me, but I also don’t try to sugarcoat my life, or show you only the sunny side. Um, obviously. Hahaha.

In my post last week, wherein I described how I still sometimes struggle with the echoes of my eating disorder (and, more importantly, the disordered thoughts that informed it), there was one paragraph that seemed to resonate with some of you quite surprisingly:

…I remembered all of the times that I would go out to eat with my friends. Upon finishing my meal, which was a restaurant portion (read: huge) that I likely ate in its entirety, I remember the feeling of yearning I had toward any unfinished food on my friends’ plates. I always wanted to eat that too. Their leftover french fries, the last quarter of their burger, that last couple of chicken wings. My friends probably (hopefully) didn’t know this. I like to think they didn’t notice the longing in my eyes, the twitching of my fingers. Because it would never even occur to them. They had control of their eating. They didn’t feel the need to stuff themselves to the limit and beyond…

I had really only written it to paint an image of what my thought process used to be like. To illustrate the way my attitude toward and relationship with food was warped. But in the comments and emails that I received, so many people expressed how glad they were to know that there was someone else who had these kinds of thoughts. That there was somebody else out there like them. That they were not alone.

And upon receiving several messages with that same sentiment, the idea for this post began to formulate in my head. Not because it’s an easy post to write, but because I think it’s necessary. Because it is so much harder to face your demons by yourself. And because nobody really is alone. So to prove it, I’m willing to lay it all out there. The self-image issues and the irrationality and the dangerous amounts of self-loathing that I battled on a daily basis, back when I was at my highest weight and in the throes of my eating disorder.

Maybe all this post will do is illustrate just how far-gone I was back then. And maybe it will alienate my real-life friends, or embarrass my family, or who knows what. But you guys often call me brave, and even though I don’t really think that’s true, I want to be. And I want you — whoever you may be — to know that you weren’t then, and are not now, alone.

***

Imagine it is somewhere in the 2008 – 2009 time frame. I am 20 years old and a college senior. Forget trying to lose the Freshman 15. Unfettered access to campus dining halls and the multiple fast food drive-thrus that populate Harrisonburg, VA has helped me pack on a good 60 pounds over the past 3 years while at school. I am lonely, unfocused, and depressed. I am very overweight. And I feel, deeply, that the latter is the reason for all of the former.

I loathe the way I look, and yet I am obsessed with my body. I strive for the ideal (skinny) body that I have yearned for since I was a pre-teen, and want to get there as quickly as possible. Evidently, this means I am living in a constant cycle of trying to see how long I can go without eating anything at all, and then breaking into a binge when I “fail” at that. And due to my “failure” to starve myself into skinnyness, I hate myself even more.

Despite living in a house full of fun, vibrant women, I find myself retreating more and more into the solitude of my bedroom. This is where most of the damage is done. I come home with fast food in my purse, having already thrown away the extra sodas that came with my multiple value meals from Wendy’s. Because, sure, ordering value meals instead of individual items costs more. But at least this way, the woman in the drive-thru window might not think that all of this food is for me. She might not know to pity me.

I constantly fear judgement. From my housemates. My friends. My classmates. The svelte, denim mini-skirt wearing girls around campus in their Uggs and giant sunglasses who always have a boyfriend. (Of course, I know now that many of them probably weren’t any healthier than me, but it didn’t make it hurt any less that I didn’t look like them.) I can’t let anyone know about my secret food lifestyle. Even just being me, as obese as I am, I feel like I am constantly being judged. God forbid they really see what’s going on behind closed doors. So I try to hide it all.

I rarely use the kitchen, except when nobody else is home and I can make two boxes of macaroni and cheese in peace. No matter what I am eating, it is almost always alone in my room. I shovel down the food as quickly as possible, usually with the TV on so that I don’t have to pay attention to the thousands of calories I’m consuming. I also need to get it over quickly on the off chance that someone might walk in and catch me with my smorgasbord of crap. It sounds cliche, but that feeling — that bursting-to-the-max, uncomfortable, can’t-possibly-eat-another-bite-and-yet-I-do fullness — really is numbing. It helps distract me from myself. It depends on the day, but if I’m really feeling TOO full, then maybe I’ll try purging in one way or another. But probably not. I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know.

I’m not completely anti-social. I do have friends, and of course we sometimes go out to eat together. I do struggle with the menu, trying to balance what I want to eat (everything) with what is acceptable to eat. But then I just remind myself that Taco Bell is open until 2 AM and I can always add onto my caloric bill later if need be.

Sometimes, I stand in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will possibly go. I know it is completely illogical and irrational, but I stand there under the scalding stream and savor the pain of the heat, hoping that by some miracle of physics and biology that all my fat will simply melt off my body. I fantasize about getting plastic surgery: gastric bypass, liposuction. I research fad diets, crash diets, celebrity diets. I wonder whether Fen-Phen is still a thing, and if I could get some (it’s not and I couldn’t, thank goodness). Sometimes, on really dark days, when I’m staring into the mirror at the body that I inexplicably despise, I fantasize about just cutting the fat off of my body.

I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know. All I have is the size label on the inside of my jeans and the knowledge that I am too big, too heavy, too undesirable. And yet, never, not once, does it truly occur to me to change my lifestyle. To stop this destructive cycle, to reevaluate the way I see myself. To say to myself, “if I want to lose weight, I can just start eating healthier. I can start exercising. I can do it right.” I mean, sure, I KNOW that’s what it will take. Cognitively, logically, I know that works. But it seems like too much effort with too slow of a result. I want to be skinny, but I want it fast, and I want it now, and I want it easy. Anyone’s comments of concern or efforts to help just drive me further down. I don’t NEED their help. I don’t WANT their advice.

It will be another year and a half until I finally change. Change my thinking, change my lifestyle, and, between those two things, finally change my body. And I thank God every day that I did.

***

I obviously still have moments where I struggle, but it is nothing like it used to be. And while I do still want to lose weight, it no longer comes from a place of self-loathing. And that is a big step.

When I went to the Cirque du Soleil show last week, I told my friend Rachel that I was thinking about writing this post but was scared. I was scared of what it would mean to put all of this out there: my darkest thoughts, my secret shame, the truth behind why my relationship with food became so toxic in the first place. I’ve obviously put out snippets of my behavior before, but not quite like this. And she and I got into a really interesting discussion about shame.

I was ashamed of my body, and I was equally ashamed of my behavior. Even now, I remain ashamed of those thoughts. It is mortifying to put out there. To know that I was that desperate, that I hated myself that much. To think that this body, which can do some pretty awesome stuff, was such an embarrassment. If I’d had the resources back then, there is probably no limit to the unhealthy extremes I would have been willing to go in order to achieve my perfect body. But I also know that I can’t possibly be the only person who has ever had those kinds of thoughts.

As women in modern society, we are given so many conflicting messages. We are supposed to strive to look a certain way, to achieve a certain size, to hate ourselves if we don’t fit that mold. But not too much. Don’t hate yourself too much, like I did, because that’s just as shameful. You can’t possibly love yourself either, though, not while you’re so fat/ugly/awkward/plain. You have to hate yourself just enough to drive yourself to be beautiful, THEN it’s okay to love yourself. You want to talk about what’s a real shame? Let’s talk about THAT.

I think the real root of my personal shame when it comes to my disordered past stems from the idea that my thoughts were not okay to think. That they weren’t normal. I was the weird one, the strange one, the one with all these problems that needed fixing. It was isolating, and that estrangement manifested itself in some dangerous ways. I just wish that back then there had been someone to tell me that I wasn’t alone.

There’s a chance that some of you may not be able to relate to the content of this post at all. And that is seriously wonderful if that’s the case. But even if you never had to deal with the exact behavior I described, I would bet that anyone who has ever struggled with their body image or self-worth can relate at least a little bit. We are not alone.