I'll admit. I have a good memory. Sometimes alarmingly good. I haven't quite mastered how to use my memory for anything useful, but nevertheless, I remember things.
I remember there were a lot of things contributing to it, but I think it can all be traced to one moment where I was pushed too far over the edge and I lost control, and wouldn't regain that control again for many many years.
It was a well enough meant comment. It wasn't even directed at me. And thinking about it now, it was probably good advice. But I've carried that comment with me ever since. I remember where it was, who it was, where I was standing, what day of the week it was, what month, what year. You remember these sort of things, these sort of things that send you spiraling out of control like that.
I'm talking about eating disorders again. This isn't another one of those "Why I'm not all about that bass" blog posts everyone has been seeing so much of. Frankly, it's a cute song and is super catchy. But what drives me crazy is when people say "WOW this song is so loving and accepting of everyone, it makes me feel so good!" And the quite person to the side says "Actually the song kinda makes me feel isolated..." and they reply "OMG it's just a SONG, calm down." If it's just a song, then it's just a song, and a song with a good beat, sure. But if we're looking for an anthem, we need to look harder.
I've felt like I needed to say something about this again. I don't know why. Maybe to help people understand who don't understand, but it's hard to understand if you've never understood, if you understand what I'm saying there. It's hard.
See, I've never suffered from MDD, major depressive disorder. Eating disorders ARE considered to be a form of depression, but it is different. I couldn't understand major depressive disorder. It took me forever to realize that simply telling a person to try and be happy doesn't work. It doesn't work to say "Well just look out the window at the beautiful world!" It doesn't work that way. It would be great if it did, but a lot of things would be great if they were so easy.
It's the same with eating disorders. You cannot simply say "Well just ignore the media, it's not there. Ignore the pop culture that still can't seem to get it right, despite how hard it tries. Remember how special your body is and what a blessing you are to have it! It's beautiful no matter how it looks." I've heard that billions of times.
It wasn't that I felt fat. That was a part of it, eating disorders and distorted body image walk hand in hand, and the body I saw and still see in the mirror is definitely not what others see. It was simply, I didn't feel beautiful. I didn't like my body the way it was. That is what it boils down to. Many people struggle with this, and have for years, and it drives them to all ends of the eating disorder spectrum. Under eating, over eating... and it's not like they're reading the wrong stuff or listening to the wrong people or hanging around the wrong crowd. It's not really the fault of anyone and that should be very understood.
That being said, it doesn't mean it's ok for the media to push towards glorifying one type of body over the other. It is fine to affirm one body type; to say it is beautiful, to say that it has its beauty in its own way, just like everyone. It is not ok to promote one body type ABOVE the other though. To say that one is better than the other with words such as "Real women have curves", or "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night." (That last one is messed up anyways. I could write a whole nother blog post about how body acceptance needs to focus on accepting our own bodies rather than accepting others... but today I'm talking about something else so go ahead and move along.)
I've never been overweight so I'm not sure what phrases hurt on the other side of the spectrum, but I know they hurt just as much as the ones that hurt me.
Though I still have a distorted image of myself, I've come to accept my body and that's good and all. But my heart aches for those who are stuck in bodies they don't feel comfortable in. Some people, try as they might, will never be more than a size 2. And some people, try as they might, will never be less than a size 16. Bulking up or slimming down, for some people, are not physical options due to genetics or circumstance.
And try as we might to say "Don't pay attention to the media, just love yourself", the fact is, just about every facet of our appearance is influenced in some way by the media. Even using blogs or twitter or instagram or facebook, you're influencing people through media.
I can ramble with these posts, can't I?
I guess what it boils down to is... really try hard to love your own body but I get if you have problems with it too. Oh boy do I get that. So that being said, we ought to be far more sensitive to those around us. Well meaning phrases can cut to the core and be carried around forever. No need to walk on eggshells... but... well, be aware. This is a raising awareness post overall. There are people out there who are hurt. Who can't change their physical appearance. Who don't love themselves and feel no love from others. So be aware.
This is kind of a depressing note to end on so... to those of you who struggle with eating disorders, seek help. You need it. And know that it will get better.