Earlier today my friend, Julie, shared a blog post that got published in the Chapel Hill News. It is a wonderful post about her journey to make peace with her own body, regardless of its current shape. I think she is the first person I have ever known personally to be this open about this topic.
For all the talk out there about body image and cultural expectations, very few people seem to write about their own personal battles.
I have mentioned bits and pieces of mine, here and there (You can go back and look for those references in my posts yourself. It will be like an Easter egg hunt.), but really struggle to come out in the open. Perhaps it was because I was so defined by my eating disorder for a few years in high school. Perhaps it was because, for some reason, I still feel a huge amount of shame surrounding that struggle. Perhaps it is because I just so want to leave all that behind having enjoyed years of freedom and not having to pay heed, at every turn, to what I eat and how I look.
Sure, there are times when the shackles come back to haunt me. I think that is why I have such a visceral reaction to the "eat this...don't eat that" approach to life. I have know that slavery and I don't ever want to go back.
Is this a struggle for you? I am asking my readers to interact with me a bit on this. The statistics on eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, yo-yo dieting, overeating....the spectrum) say that there are a lot of y'all out there, yet I don't hear anybody talking about it, at least not on a personal level. Am I missing something? What concerns you? What is hard for you? Is this even an issue for anybody any more?
Every so often, though, I think it is time to tell the whole story. My whole story. It ain't pretty. I wouldn't even know where to start. But I think it might be time. Thank you, Julie, for giving me the courage to really speak up after all these years.
I struggled in high school with my weight. There were no options about what I ate. Mom cooked for the 9 kids and we ate what she made - or didn't eat at all (actually I cooked most of the time - I won't eat a chicken if I have to chop it up - that's just GROSS). But looking back I was SKINNY and should have never stressed about my weight.ReplyDelete
Now, it's too overwhelming to care. Daughter with celiac (so no wheat, rye, or barely in our diets), hubs needs heart healthy and I need to lose weight - it's all too overwhelming to try to converge into a single meal. I do the best I can and let it go.
I don't love my body or looks, but not sure what else to do.
Thanks for addressing this. I too had an eating disorder in high school something between anorexia and orthoexia (I think that's how they term it) anyways now I am married and have three kids four and under in five years of marriage and 30 extra lbs of fat. I struggle a lot with not feeling good enough as far as thin enough for my husband. I struggle with comparing myself to those around my husband who are thin and I struggle so much to lose even 5lbs. I really need to accept who I am and where I'm at and know that I'm enough for him. That's my main struggle these days. Nursing makes it incredibly hard for me to lose...so it'll be years before I'll lose it all but even then I always look a tad fluffy since I'm really short.ReplyDelete
Where to begin. Thanks for being willing to talk, Ginny. I don't think you should be afraid of telling your story. God gave you that story, and (I think) His plan must be for you to share it some time for others' benefit. Anyway.ReplyDelete
I gradually gained weight after I married. I was actually a lovely size and shape before that. I'm not about 90 lbs. heavier than when I married, and that's a shock. I used to want to lose weight for looks (but not for Adam, who loves me just as I am). But at 50, we're both realizing that our weight could kill us. But: I don't gorge myself, I'm not crazy about sweets, I don't drink sodas, don't like ice cream, I do exercise, and I don't overeat. But I'm still at least 50 lbs. overweight. My only option will be, eventually, to go on a serious, rigorous diet. I know I can do that. I have a pretty stubborn will. Once I commit to it ... but like you said, I don't WANT to turn all my attention, my mind, all my "guns" on that task. I don't like the idea of obsessing on it so much. It feels wrong. What's the answer? Adam had that moment when the doctor shakes his finger at him and says, "If you don't...!" My moment like that is just around the corner.
If I had a bad relationship with food, I could do something about it. But I don't. I don't obsess. I'd love some answers to this, and I don't want some fad diet! :)
(sigh. that should say, "I'm NOW about 90 lbs...")ReplyDelete
I have probably every kind of issue with food there is.ReplyDelete
"Good" food? "Bad" food? Terrible body image issues. I probably go back and forth between something that isn't anorexia but is fear of food to the point of near starvation, then non-purging bulimia. I comfort eat, then feel guilty and depressed. I carry weight in the worst possible places and can do nothing to change that genetic shape. I used to run--about 30 miles per week. It didn't help me lose weight. Near starvation is all that works, and then it has to be restrictive of types of foods and not just simply calories in/calories out. It's impossible to live this way and ever be in a social situation. No one else can manage my diet for me, and I won't be rude to people who've invited me to their home, so it doesn't ever resolve. I've heard the term "disordered eating" used for people like me, probably presuming that calling it an eating disorder would just make us worse. Probably right.
There is also much for me to tell here, but suffice it to say that I'm in recovery from an eating disorder right now. For the last 16 years I've been mainly anorexic (met the clinical criteria), sometimes bulimic, and everything in between (EDNOS - Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). I'm going through a pretty intensive treatment program with a counselor, nutritionist, support group, and a wonderful curriculum from a ministry called Finding Balance. I'm taking an honest look at the wounds and lies that have controlled my life for so long, and it's overwhelming, but God's grace comprehends it all. I dream (literally) of total freedom, and each day God leads me further out of bondage (though the progress is sometimes imperceptible to me). I LOVE that we are talking/typing about this. Let's open the dialogue in our communities... it's amazing how many women (and men!) are ready to share their struggles, and need only be told it's safe to do so. What we bring into the light becomes fruit of the light!ReplyDelete
This is my body image/eating disorder story, if you're interested. Thanks for being open and honest. And you're right, not many people feel comfortable opening up about it.ReplyDelete
Jennifer, I encourage you to check out the awesome organizations below. There is a movement happening now to heal the body image crisis and self-loathing that our culture has engendered in so many women... you just have to look for the signs of life! There is much hope for us.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing this. This has been something that has been on my mind as well...mostly I just compare my body to others...mostly bodies that I think look much better than mine and then it just puts in me on a downward spiral in my mind in which in pick apart everything that's wrong with me. It's a bad cycle.ReplyDelete
I am another one who struggled with disordered eating for years. Like many of you have already stated, it is a continual struggle. Now that I am in my 50's I find extra issues to deal with as well. I have to ask daily for help to ignore the lies that flit through my head! I am far from the ideal in the eyes of our culture, but I know that I am also not a slave to the scale and to counting calories, and to all the other things that were part of my years of disordered eating. I would rather be mentally healthy and a few pounds "overweight" than underweight and mentally a mess.ReplyDelete