Body Positivity & My Big Fat Secret
Normally, the content on our blog is random, geeky, and fun. However, today I felt it was time to share something that is more on the serious side of topics. This is something I always knew I would write eventually, but I didn’t know when. After several things that have happened over the last couple of days, I finally feel that the time to share has come.
Melissa McCarthy just announced her new clothing line that will stray away from labeling any of the clothing as Plus-Sized, because women’s clothing is for women. We don’t have to separate out certain body types by adding labels like Petite or Plus-Sized. This is a huge step for Body Positivity, and I was so excited about this piece of news until I read the comments. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Why did you read the comments’. Who knows, I guess I am a glutton for punishment, because everyone knows that the quickest way to ruin excitement is to read opinions that not only differ from your own but that can also hurt or offend you.
Usually, I can easily get over the ridiculous comments I read, but these particular ones really affected me in a way that I haven’t been able to shake off.
Most of these comments deal with how being fat is unhealthy and that being over a size 12 makes you morbidly obese. I am currently the heaviest and also healthiest I’ve ever been. I could go into a long explanation about how my blood work and annual doctor’s exam came back showing that I’m in great health, but I’m not going to. I shouldn’t have to provide proof to anyone that I am healthy, and besides, blood work isn’t the kind of proof I need to explain why I’m currently healthier than I’ve ever been before.
The proof I need is in the fact that I no longer feel the need to purge every piece of food that I put into my mouth. That’s right, this fat, sized 18, apparently lazy, and obviously unhealthy girl is a recovering bulimic.
My bulimia started when I was nineteen, after I left the bubble I grew up in and started to feel the cool sting of rejection in both my personal and professional life. Anyone who has undergone treatment for an eating disorder knows that the eating disorder is usually not directly related to your size and is often times a reflection of something else you cannot control. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my eating disorder stemmed from an overwhelming sense of failure. I would think to myself, ‘How can I expect to succeed in the world if I can’t even make myself lose weight’.
The longer my eating disorder continued, the more unhealthy my thoughts became. When Dove launched their Real Beauty campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes, I remember looking at the images thinking that those women were beautiful. I didn’t think I was beautiful, but I thought all of those women, big and small, were beautiful. I also remember hearing people refer to the campaign as disgusting; saying that some of the women were too big and should never be seen in their underwear. There I was, already thinking that I was fat and hideous, looking at this ad that I thought was beautiful and that some other people described as disgusting. What did they think of me?
What most people don’t know about purging is that it causes an imbalance in your electrolytes and releases endorphins that give you a sort of high. Slowly purging becomes something you have to do; it becomes an addiction. I was living in Los Angeles when my eating disorder was at its worst. Every meal I ate would either be flushed down the toilet or consist of no more than 200 calories. I hiked every day and began abusing laxatives. Over the course of 6 months of doing this I lost only 20 pounds. I was the smallest I’d ever been in my life but I was still only barely able to squeeze into a 14. Also, I was miserable. All of the restrictions weren’t enough to lose weight and I was falling deeper into depression. It was at this point that I started driving people away from me, letting friendships dissolve and was hardly letting any new ones form. In my mind I was disgusting, still fat, and a failure. I didn’t deserve friends.It wasn’t until three years after I left Los Angeles that I finally started seeking treatment for my eating disorder. Feeling like I felt in LA wasn’t enough to make me realize that I needed help. No, it took burning three friendships and almost passing out in bathroom at work after purging that I finally decided I couldn’t keep living like this. I needed help and help is what I got. Over the past year and a half I have worked with a team of therapists and doctors to overcome this disease.
Throughout my journey to recovery I have learned a lot about myself and the people in my life. I never really knew who my true friends were until I started down this road. Many people I considered close friends believed that I was making everything up for attention, or were quick to correct me by saying that I had a binge eating disorder, not bulimia. How could someone my size have an eating disorder like bulimia? I’m no longer friends with those people, but part of me can hardly fault them. Every day people post comments like the ones above or say things that can unknowingly make someone feel like they are worthless because of how they look. What those people don’t realize is that saying it is unhealthy to be fat or obese is not helpful. Every person who struggles with weight knows that the world thinks they need to change, and trust me it is always in the forefront of their mind. I always felt guilty for being overweight, like I was somehow hurting others by being this hideous, unhealthy thing they had to look at. I now know that isn’t the case. I am a beautiful person that deserves to be respected regardless of my size.
Calling people fat or pointing out their flaws is not the solution to any problem, and the Body Positivity Movement isn’t trying to promote obesity. If anything the Body Positivity Movement has done more to combat obesity than anything else. Feeling that it was okay to be the way that I am was the first step I had to take in order to combat my bulimia, and reading body positive articles and following “plus-sized” fashion bloggers was a large part of how I did that. What Melissa McCarthy is doing when she says that we need to stop labeling women based on their size is a huge step towards making women feel like women and not like something less-than because they aren’t the standard. There is no standard when it comes to size and appearance. Everyone was made differently and we can’t all fit into a box marked ideal or normal. This is what the Body Positivity Movement is all about, and in a way, the Body Positivity Movement helped save my life. Now, imagine what we can do if Body Positivity stops being a movement and instead becomes a way of life.
I am leaving this post open to comments, but I am going to ask that you follow the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” philosophy. I shared this very personal part of my life in hopes that maybe someone else struggling with the same or similar issues feels as if they are not alone. I did not share this story so that people have a place to talk about why Body Positivity is wrong or for people to say rude things about me or others who have suffered from an eating disorder.