Skewed

My left earlobe is torn. My big toes are disproportionately large. I have blotchy skin.

Those are some of my many imperfections.

I don’t usually like to discuss this topic in public forums. I avoid this subject for two reasons. I feel it is a growing cliche. I mean who can say they haven’t seen a [love-yourself, generalization-filled inspirational post here] posted on Facebook recently? They’re everywhere. I also don’t want to be known for my relationship with this topic. Some individuals take a certain experience and make it the core of who they are. I never want to be one of those individuals.

I’m talking about my eating disorder.

I’ve spent the last eight years of my life grappling with this issue and could probably write about my frustrations, experiences and questions for days. I encountered some interesting misconceptions about people who struggle with their weight today. This evening, I came into a discussion about a woman who was extremely thin and suffered from eating disorder as a teen. The young woman telling the story explained that this other woman is quite heavy now. When the young woman learned about the eating disorder, she said “it all makes sense now. I got why she looked like that now because she just didn’t want to bother with it anymore.”

This irked me.

The world seems to have two perceptions of someone who once suffered from an eating disorder. One of these stereotypes is an extremely fit, granola crunching, weight-lifting Pilates instructor who we can only imagine has channeled the disorder into something positive. The other is the one who just said “f*** it” and is now overweight–of course this person has a great personality and now feels happy and comfortable in their skin.  I often feel those of us who fit neither extreme get written off. It is as if I didn’t learn anything from my experience because I wasn’t defined or re-defined by it.  When truly, I just don’t want to lug my baggage around with me for everyone to see. I firmly believe making extreme life choices, good or bad, because you are trying to get over an eating disorder is baggage. Choosing to stop caring all together or setting your life goals based on the fact you no longer have this problem gives the disorder just as much power as it had in the beginning. It would be like choosing to marry someone simply because you just got dumped. Seems pretty rash doesn’t it? It disturbed me to think about how accepted and even encouraged those stereotypes are, when in reality it is sad. It makes me sad to think about a man or woman allowing something to dictate their entire existence.

Wearing my size 00 dress, I was 5'9" and 107 lbs the day of my freshman homecoming.

Wearing my size 00 dress, I was 5’9″ and 107 lbs the day of my freshman homecoming.

It is possible, and quite common, to look like a normal person after having an eating disorder. It is possible to gain weight, lose weight, try to get in shape, look great in a pair of jeans, not look so good in last years dress. It is possible to be like everyone else and have a completely normal relationship with your body after having an eating disorder.

Hence the reason for my aforementioned flaws. I have no control over those things. They are part of who I am. The size of my thighs or circumference of my waist is not and how I good or bad I feel about them are not. Nor should they be.

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