I’m much fatter than I would like to be. I’m also much shorter than I would like to be. And I wish my skin wasn’t bluish-white, and that I didn’t have to wear glasses. But, I can’t worry about that right now. I’ve got living to do. I need to snuggle my daughter, make love to my husband, and laugh until I cry with my friends. I need to dance to loud music, cook dinner for my parents, and write a letter to my grandpa. I must read, listen to comedy podcasts, and dance terribly. Yes, I need to keep myself healthy so I can do these things for as long as possible. But I don’t need to wait until my body is perfect to do them.
When I was 7 years old Wal-Mart didn’t have Ariel panties in my size. I hated my body and couldn’t wait to grow up a bit so I could look better.
When I was a 12 years old I hated my round, curvy body and longed for the day when I would hit my teenage growth spurt and become beautiful.
When I was 16 I decided that I was a late bloomer since I hadn’t really gotten any taller since the 5th grade. I told myself I didn’t have time for dating; because I was 100% sure that no one found my ugliness attractive. I hated my body.
When I was 20, I decided that even though I wasn’t beautiful, I knew enough tricks to make most people think I was attractive. I hated my body, but I dressed “correctly” for my body type and was a perfectionist about my grooming. I usually took at least two hours to get ready to leave the house. Prepping my armor of tumbling curls, glossy lips, and smooth hairless features. Underwear to smooth the bumps and very uncomfortable, but very cute, shoes.
I became the most feminine girl around. Pink was my favorite color, I worshipped at the altar of accessories, and I did my utmost to avoid sweating. I practiced my facial expressions in the mirror and didn’t allow myself to feel things in public that I thought made me look unattractive. No crying, no being angry. I even practiced eating and drinking while looking in the mirror to make sure I didn’t gross anyone out by, you know, acting human and all…yuck!
I can’t remember when I wasn’t worried about the space that I was taking up in the room. I never wore things that were too flashy or make up that was harsh, because I wanted to be seen as small, delicate, feminine, doll-like. I folded in my arms and legs in when sitting, I constantly sucked in and posed. When my personality did break through, I would be embarrassed when I laughed too loud or said something too opinionated. For years, I was waiting until I looked good enough to live the life I wanted. I thought, “No one wants a loud, flashy, big girl for their friend or girlfriend or daughter.” Being overweight was unattractive and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by being unattractive. After all, my number one purpose in life was to look good. I even tried to tamp down my personality a bit and sometimes acted dumber than I actually was.
I didn’t have a terrible life, but most of my brain was concerned with how I looked and how fat I was compared to others in the room. I would walk into a room and strategize where to sit or stand based on the weight of the other people. My goal was to be near someone bigger than me so that I would look smaller in comparison.
When my magic growth spurt didn’t happen in high school, I took matters into my own hands. I took diet pills, I limited myself to less than 100 calories a day, and I would see how many days I could go without eating. Then when I lost control of my body and allowed myself to eat, I would purge. Once I was on the bingeing and purging cycle, my secret life ramped up whole new level. Not only did I have to look good and keep my socially approved personality going all the time, I would I have to keep the secret of my eating disorder from everyone.
I would spend 30 minutes sobbing and vomiting in the bathroom, mentally berating myself the whole time, then look in the mirror and be disgusted. Not with what I had made myself do, that was a necessary evil, but with how I looked. Bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes with purple-red busted blood vessels around them from the force of vomiting. Dry, scaly skin with sores in my mouth, bloody gums, and terrible breath. I carried around a little kit of eye drops, toothpaste and make up to repair the damage. I worried about my teeth and my nails looking bad because of the stomach acid that splashed on them, but I didn’t stop. Because I was in control of my appearance now and I was thinner than I had ever been. I was enjoying living my life and I didn’t want to stop.
As horrible as this may sound to an outsider, it made sense to me. In my mind I couldn’t live the life I wanted and be overweight. I wanted love and respect; I wanted to have fun and act crazy sometimes. But I didn’t want to be “that fat girl.” I felt like I owed it to the world to look good all the time; it was part of my job as a young woman, even if it meant killing myself to get there.
And I was killing myself, physically and emotionally. I keep these secrets for over 12 years. I had severe depression from the self-hate and the belief that if I wasn’t attractive 100% of the time people wouldn’t want to be around me. I had anxiety attacks because I worried someone would find out my secrets and try to stop me from purging. I panicked when I thought I wasn’t doing something right or behaving perfectly. I tried very hard to not let anyone see through the mask and to please everyone all the time. I kept up my façade very well, my mother didn’t know, my husband didn’t know, my friends who had known me for 20 years didn’t know.
But eventually things began to crumble.
To be continued…..