I used to love watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The women walking down the runway were my idols. They had beautiful faces, long legs, skinny bodies, big boobs. I analyzed the self control they must have had in order to get into that shape -- barely eating and dutifully working out. I wanted so badly to trade bodies with one of them -- any one of them. It didn't matter who they were or what they were like in person; in my head they were the epitome of perfection.
They say that looking like a model is unattainable, but when I have a goal, I always find a way to achieve it. It can work to my benefit or to my demise, and this time it was the latter. I quickly found a way to become my very own epitome of perfection, at least in the mirror. There were only a few boxes I needed to check -- long legs, skinny body, big boobs. Height: I am not nearly the height of one of the angels since I am 5'3, so I simply put on a pair of 5-inch heels and checked this box. Weight: by starving myself and purging, I became waif-thin and on the verge of hospitalization, so my body was actually thin enough to play the part. To tone it up to be runway ready, I would obsessively lift weights and do crunches every day. I even developed a scar on my back because my spine would protrude through my delicate skin when I lay down to perform my ab exercises. Big boobs -- this was the easiest. Although I had starved myself to the point of skin and bones and actually had no body fat -- including on my chest -- I would simply wear the magical Victoria's Secret push-up bra. With just these three things, I became my very own angel.
But a miserable and bitchy angel at that. I remember parading around Stanford mall with my "new look," my face permanently tattooed in an arrogant pout, as I delusionally thought that I was better than all of the other "larger" people around me. But as they enjoyed their croissants, baguettes, and delicious hot chocolates near the Christmas tree, smiling and laughing with friends, I was alone. My stomach was churning and eating itself up, my body freezing from lack of body fat, and my feet swollen from the ridiculous heels. I do not know why I actually tried to achieve this goal for nearly ten years. It's hard to believe it now, but it just goes to show how crazy your mind can become to the point that it purposefully and effectively kills it's only vessel of action in the world -- the body.
Just writing this brings back horrible memories. Now, I can do two things with these memories -- one, I can try as hard as I can to push them out of my mind, or two, I can put them to use. I prefer when things have a purpose, so I choose number two. You might wonder -- how do I put these horrible memories to use? My answer: I use them to prevent myself from spiraling back into that nightmare. Today, these memories act as preventative medicine for my mind as I am constantly bombarded with superficial images of extremely thin models portrayed as sex symbols. When I see the skin and bones of models I no longer feel the envy, because I actively focus on remembering the pain I felt to achieve this. It prompts a visceral response in my body which makes me shudder. Seeing these images no longer provokes longing, but instead provokes pain. The mind is a trainable entity. Even though we are blasted with propaganda every second of the day telling our minds how to feel about things, we do not have to listen to it. It is never too late to challenge what we have been taught and to create our own responses. I am living proof of this.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.