What are we supposed to do when arch enemy #1 is something that you quite literally cannot live without. When all anyone tells you is “Oh but you are so pretty! Why would you do that when you are beautiful!?” Easy. We don’t agree with you. We work on that daily. See most days are really good in fact! We are happy, do our list of things that need doing, everything is fine. Until it’s not.
The way you view food and the way we view food are two very different things. You see a big sandwich and think “Ohh that looks good!”, we see that same sandwich and think “How many calories does that have in it? Well maybe if I eat it without the bread, I can eat it then. Well, but someone will say something and ask why. Oh, I’m too fat anyway I’ll just go to the bathroom while they order, and when I come out I can dodge that bullet and just say I’m not hungry.”.
We know it’s not healthy to think that, but when it comes down to it there’s very little you can say that would help in the moment. If anything, when there’s NOT food in front of us give complements that aren’t beauty based, as long as they are true. Because most of the time, reminding us that you see something beautiful within us that has nothing to do with appearance, is the best thing you can do. It’s not your job to “fix” us, and we don’t need to base our opinions of ourselves in what the world says.
Sometimes people think it’s something that needs to be tip-toed around or that they need to worry about us… for us. Most of the time, we worry enough about it that you don’t have to. It’s not the plague, it’s just an eating disorder. We all have different stories and different backgrounds. Everyone’s story is different. For me it was a few moments as a younger child. Only one of which I will share with you.
I was 9 years old in a classroom while my mom was in Bible study. This was a weekly occurrence, every Tuesday at the church in town. We (my siblings and I) would be put with a group of kids whose mothers were also in Bible study, and we would all play and read or really do whatever we wanted under loose adult supervision. One of those Tuesdays I made brownies to take in and share with the other kids. I would also end up offering the “teachers” one as well. Everyone loved them and we went back to playing, when the head of the childcare faculty came in to see how we were all doing. She was in my opinion, one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. In fact, she was so beautiful I hoped that I would look like her when I was grown.
She walked into the room, and I immediately ran over to my tray of brownies and offered one to her; so happy that I had the chance to share something with her. She smiled and said “No thank you honey! Thats so sweet of you but summer is coming up and I’ve got to fit into one of those cute bikinis this year!” and in that moment I became hyper conscious of my body. Well, I mean if SHE was fat or needed to be smaller, than goodness that means I should be way smaller. I was crushed. Because she thought she was too big, and I thought she was drop dead gorgeous and wanted her to see herself like I saw her.
This is a relatively small moment compared to the things that majorly shifted me to that line of thinking, but I am sure others can relate. And that is the goal of writing this. Not only do I want people that do not have eating disorders to understand that it’s not their job to “fix”, and a big way they can help if they really want, and more importantly so that people that do have eating disorders can hopefully feel slightly more seen and related to.