Except I’m not. This post is about how EDs are not about vanity. Just making sure folks understand that and aw.
When I became ill I was a chubby child. I was bullied at school for my weight and told things like: ‘you can’t listen to that music because you’re fat’, ‘you can’t walk here because you’re fat’ or ‘you smell because you’re fat’. It was a bunch of fairly brutal things to say to a young person. I was and am a very sensitive person, I just cannot be unmade to be something other than a big softie. I have such feels, all the time.
Some people have more of a tendency to ‘catch’ an ED than others, and being a sensitive soul can be one of the attributing factors. When I was young I felt shame for my shape/weight. The body positivity discourse sadly did not exist yet (I’m like *super* old). Nobody told me it’s okay to be whatever shape, and everybody told me that what I was wasn’t okay. I just wanted to get away from the negative attention.
Sadly, my solution to the problem of negative spotlighting was a diet so extreme that I dove right into the illness. When I hit normal weight it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t what I saw in the mirror. It wasn’t my identity. My identity was of someone disgusted and ashamed of their shape/weight, even when it was causing me all kinds of problems at this point (kids, I don’t recommend osteoporosis at 16 – my top tip is to eat).
Anyway, the really stupid thing here is that I couldn’t give a f*ck about what people look like. I do not choose my friends based on their appearance, that’s freakin absurd. If I don’t have time to put eye shadow on in the morning, I’ll quite comfortably leave without it. I like bright colours and dressing up to make people looking at me happy, but I really don’t give a rat’s behind about being super-skinny or having the latest hair and trendiestest make-up. I bought my first ever foundation cream at 25, because before that I really couldn’t care less about putting on loadsa slap. I still only do it on special occasions. Spending more than 5mins on my face in the morning seems like a time wasted to me. I could be exploring the world!
For these reasons it infuriates me that my illness tries to tell me that my worth is lesser if I eat more. That if I am slightly bigger people will begin to dislike me, that I will become a bad person. That eating regularly means that I will put on weight (sure it can do if my biological weight so demands, but it can also keep me at my current weight…whatever, my body knows best and I don’t care).
Sure, my ‘project’ started from a motivation to change something outer to become more acceptable, but I know now, that I am acceptable, whatever shape I am. Doing good things in life is what matters, being skinny and/or beautiful is just not as important, if at all. I hate it when people think this illness is about vanity. It is not. It is about having stupid compulsive thoughts and behaviours. I am fighting them off and can somewhat control them now, but when I was just ill, I could not.
My trigger is spending time with people who care about what I look like more than about my other qualities. I used to have a particular boyfriend like that, someone who liked me for my porcelain doll features. Kids, Pihla’s top tip for you here again: don’t pick a boyfriend who wants to treat you like a trophy and when you tell them you purge tells you ‘I can’t find you attractive when you’re like that’. Kids, that does not help you recover from an ED. (Author’s note: I don’t think he’s a bad person, he just had no capacity to support me).
Anyway, today is my 1 month anniversary. Cue rainbows, heart shapes, unicorn flowers! I decided that every month on my anniversary I will treat myself to something that my illness would not allow me to do, such as buying some flowers for my home or going to the cinema. Dunno what I’ll treat myself to today, but it shall be something wonderful.