For about 30 years, starting around age 16, I was dieting. Even when I was pregnant I would try to “diet” thinking that maybe instead of gaining weight I could just convert they weight I didn’t want into baby weight so that when I lost the baby weight I’d be smaller than when I got pregnant. I was constantly yo-yoing…gaining and losing the same 10-30lbs for 30 years. I am 5’3″ (at best) and at my smallest I was 108 pounds at my biggest (not pregnant) I guess I was 140?
I know this: I WAS NEVER FAT. Ever. I know that now. I do. But I did not know that then.
And while my recovered body looks very different, I don’t really think about my body much anymore. I’m neutral in most ways. I only think about it and the bodies of others when I’m thinking about fat justice and how anti-fat this world.
Do you know the weight capacity of your chairs? I do now. After I broke one. They are 200lbs. 30% of adults say they weigh over 200lbs…AND I AM ONE OF THEM! My chairs are not safe for 1 in 3 adults. THEY ARE NOT SAFE FOR ME. And do you know what I found when I went looking for new chairs? Most of your standard/affordable dining room chairs are capacity: 200lbs. Why are MOST affordable dining room chairs not safe for 30% of the adult population? Hell, even the folding chairs you take to soccer games are mostly capacity 250lbs. Why can’t we do that with dining room chairs?
Yeah – so I think about my body in THESE moments, when I realize how anti-fat society is and I’m mad it took my eating disorder recovery to notice.
BUT…back when I was stuck in my body dysmorphia/eating disorder hell? I thought about my body all the time. I’m currently reading What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, and I am remembering some of my old thought patterns. Gordon writes:
At night, I dreamed of laying my belly on a cold, metal table (a laboratory or a coroner’s office?) and slicing it off with a fish knife in one smooth stroke, blooding but finally freed.Aubrey Gordong What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
I used to have similar thoughts when I would take a bath.
I love baths, always have. But when I struggled with body dysmorphia I would lay as flat as possible in the bath and watch my stomach flatten more (like it always does when you are prone) and then I would imagine just cutting off all of the extra flesh around my body. I would envision it like Gordon did, with the knife and the blood and would only think about how much better I would feel, not about how twisted it was to fantasize mutilating my body.
Needless to say, I’ve got a lot more to cut off now and I take baths without nary a thought about it.
As a matter of fact, part of my therapy has been to actively love my body. Not in a “every body is beautiful” way, but by taking time to wash and scrub and lotion my body so that I can touch the fat I used to fear and learn to not be revulsed. And now to think about how I used to hold much smaller pieces of flesh and wish I could chop them off….only now to be slathering them with body buffs and lotion…it’s a beautiful contrast I want to make sure I celebrate.
A gorgeous sign of healing.
Gordon also writes a lot about how she used to love swimming as a kid and about the change that happened in her mindset when society started telling her to be ashamed of her body in a swimsuit. This also reminded me how I hated my body in swimsuits and my favorite diet fantasy was to lose weight over the winter and to wow everyone at the pool when I donned my first bikini of the summer.
Last summer was definitely the first summer of my life I can honestly say I never once thought about how I would be skinnier the next summer. I was at the pool all summer and never once thought: Next summer I’ll surprise all these people by being skinny! This is really impressive since I am the biggest I’ve ever been…any summer of my entire life.
I’m still just constantly blown away by the reminders of how much my mindset has changed in the last couple of years of recovery. I’m proud of my healing and am constantly offering love to the Kim of yesteryear who used to fantasize about mutilating herself to get rid of a few extra pinches of flesh.
2 thoughts on “The Biggest Changes Are Mental”
Your openness and honesty about your journey has helped me reshape in a much healthier and self-affirming way how I view my own body. Thank you!
I have two photos of me in my swimming costume last summer. One it’s my head and shoulders and just the straps as I sat in the garden with my son and he played in the paddling pool. The second is of me on the beach with the boys. I didn’t love the photo. But I didn’t delete the photo either. My post-2-babies body looks so different then it ever did before and some days I really struggle with that. Learning to love me is hard work some days but I want the make it work.
Thanks for sharing Kim 😊