Written by Hannah Farrell
I have an eating disorder and I will never be happy with what I see in the mirror, but it is something that I must learn to accept. I do not mean to sound bleak, or like there is no end to these disorders. I think it is important to treat eating disorders just like any other mental illness, there isn’t a true solution – we just learn to cope.
When I was a kid, my mom taught me to eat when sad, mad, glad, etc. Didn’t get a role in the school musical? Have a piece of candy and a good cry. Bullied again? Let’s make some brownies. Got straight A’s on your report card? Banana split night. While I don’t regret the memories made on these occasions with my family, I regret the mindset that it instilled in me at a very young age.
I have dealt with these self-image issues from a very young age.
I was bullied in elementary school, friendless in middle school, and dateless in high school. This combined with my mindset to cope with food led to some unhealthy habits developing. I would pick and prod at every inch of my body, willing for it to look like someone that others would want to be – or be with. I would set unattainable goals for myself, only to becomes depressed when I fell short. I got caught up in the world of wanting to be skinny so people would like me… and to me the worst part was I never got there.
I do not conform to the normalized vision of people with ED that we see on TV and in movies. I, like many others who struggle, understand that there is variety within having an eating disorder.
Not everyone has the same compulsions or the same means of coping. When I was asking around my sorority house for a good topic to write this blog post on, many of them were shocked to find out that I even “had” an eating disorder. I didn’t feel the need to correct them with “have” because they were surprised enough to think that this is something I used to have to deal with. But I think that is my main point: all eating disorders are different. Currently I consider myself ‘recovering’ but I still have the disorder. Just because you see me sit down with an appropriately sized meal and maybe I go back for dessert doesn’t mean that I don’t hate myself later that night in the shower for that one extra piece of garlic bread. Even though I eat three meals a day doesn’t mean that in the back of my mind, I don’t wish that I could survive on one.
Body positivity to me is a focus on not how you look but how you feel.
I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be happy with how I look, no matter how I look. I don’t need validation from others to help me; I won’t be the girl saying “wow, I look so fat” to all of her friends to fish for compliments, but I will be the girl who can look in the mirror and admit how far she’s come and how much stronger she’s gotten.