Thursday, June 19, 2014

Age 20

The dieting started when I was only 12 years old. My "best friend" at the time always had something to say about how I looked or what I wore. I felt as if I really had no friends and no control over my life.

That girl, I thought, was the best thing to ever happen to me; she was like the stylish older sister that I never had – she always had cool tips and advice for me and made me feel like I belonged somewhere. For once in my life, I didn't feel friendless and alone at school. But she took advantage of that.

Her bullying worsened through that seventh grade year when I began my battle with anorexia nervosa. I even told her hoping, as my best friend, she would help. From there she only saw my weakness and escalated the teasing after that. When my mom started to notice my eating, I began eating dinner...and with that I gained weight. I couldn't take it any longer and before I knew it I was purging.

I was 14 the first time I tried to stop, but I only relieved the symptoms, not the disorder. The longing for the feeling starving, binging and purging had given me lingered for years. Throughout high school I relapsed a few times, but never really recovered. It wasn't until I went away to college that I began to heal and now I can say that I am truly cured…and will never return. I haven't spoken to the girl I called my "best friend" in four years and it's been a long 8 year struggle with my disorder. But it gets easier with every passing day…and I feel stronger as a result of it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Age 18

All my other Asian friends are skinny. Size 0, 25 inch waists, beautiful slim figures. And then there’s me. The short, “chubby" Asian who eats healthy but unfortunately doesn’t look very “slim" for her religiously attained healthy lifestyle. Okay, I know that I’m not fat. But only factually. 5’2”, 120 lbs. Rock solid quads from endless hours of cardio and strength training. No bulgy stomach…just a thick looking waist. Some people even say I’m attractive. That I have a princess face. I don’t see it.

My skinniest was at the peak of my diet back in 2012. I got down to 110 lbs in three short months in the summer. I was the “happiest” I had ever been with myself and my sense of self-esteem was actually present. Since then, after reverting to my pre-diet eating plans that didn’t consist of consuming half a bagel for breakfast, the other half for lunch and half a bowl of veggies and/or meat for dinner, I (of course) gained all that weight back. Even today, I look back to that summer diet for “fitspiration” and motivation.

To this day, I can remember every single thing that goes into my mouth on a daily basis. I workout at least 2 hours a day when I can. Every thought that passes through my mind daily is what I should eat for the next meal and when my next workout session should be. I am afraid of junk foods like chips, Starbucks beverages, cookies, ice cream, you name it. When I DO eat those foods on occasion, I feel like killing myself on the inside. I always have to compare what I’m eating with what other people are eating – is my meal healthier than theirs? Did I pick a lower calorie option? Am I eating less than they are?

EDNOS. It may not always show as plainly as anorexia nervosa, but hating my body and myself for eating food, the very thing that keeps me alive, is no doubt my own disturbed perception. I haven’t told anyone else because I’m afraid that people will think I want attention. The reaction I’ve gotten when I hinted my problem to my family is that I’m just thinking too much.

They’re right. I’m thinking way too much. About food. It’s all I think about. Eating it, not eating it, burning it off, fueling with it, crying from it, regretting it, hating it. And hating myself.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Age 19

I eat. I am a size double zero. I am 5’1. I have big, green eyes. I have straight teeth. I have silky, dirty-blonde hair that shines in the sun. I have abs when I engage my core and a tight little stomach when I do not. I have toned, beautiful legs. I can do the splits, I can run four miles and for a petite lady, I can jump very high.

90% of the time, I cannot see these beautiful features in myself. It drives my friends and family crazy.

I am a pre-professional dancer. I am surrounded by the pressures and demands of this strange, beautiful field.

“Hold in your stomach!”

“Hollow stomachs, ladies.”

“You think you’re working hard now? You’re barely skimming the surface.”

“There is always something to be improved.”

“Study everything. Practice outside of class.”

“If you question whether you want to be here, if you have doubts, then this field is obviously not right for you.”

Body hate tends to be an unspoken necessity to the job description. It’s ironic, because the dancers are the most physically fit, active students at my school. We can do the superhuman, yet most of us can’t stand what we see. Staring at myself in a leotard and tights in front of a mirror for six hours a day does nothing for my body-appreciation. Especially not in such a competitive environment.

I am cruel to my body.

I read a quote somewhere that was along the lines of, “Would you have any friends if you speak to them the way you speak to yourself?” This quote completely describes me. Although I suffered from a nasty bout of EDNOS that was sending me towards the low 90lb range, today I am maintaining a stable weight. I am physically very healthy. The ruthless self-hate talk is all that remains. It is obsessive. It is anxiety-driven. It is unfair.

“If you don’t work out today, you will become fat.”

“You can’t wear that outfit, it will show your flaws. Go put on a baggy, black t-shirt.”

“You don’t deserve two desserts in one day! No one needs that. Eat some fruit instead.”

“You are out of control.”

“You can’t risk losing your figure. You do want a job, don’t you?”

“You are a failure. You will make nothing of yourself.”

I could never speak like that to a friend. Or a child. It dawned on me this evening that some parents do speak like that to their children. I tried to imagine how much worse off I would be if my mother spoke to me like I speak to myself. I wouldn’t want to be her friend or her daughter.

If I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of talk from anyone else, why should I tolerate it from myself? Why should it be something normal to think? It would make me angry if someone else told me that I wouldn’t get a job if I gained some weight. Or that I didn’t deserve two desserts – frankly, when should food be something to be earned? It is a human need.

Here’s to the people who understand what it feels like to be your own worst enemy. The beautiful thing about this is that we have the power to turn it around. The only thing we can control is how we feel about ourselves.