I have control issues. I'm the eldest of four and fiercely independent. High-achieving and competitive, I stole the handwriting style of the girl who sat next to me in third grade because it looked nicer. I've never done well with authority figures. When I was little I was quite the charmer, and I even managed to walk into the principal's office to be disciplined (sobbing alligator tears, of course) and walk out with candy and no punishment. As I grew up, I learned how to do what I liked without anyone realizing that I had my own set of rules.
Some of these rules surrounded food. In the second grade I went through a phase where I painstakingly split my meal into perfect bites that had to be chewed and swallowed in 30 seconds. I must have looked incredibly odd staring at the kitchen wall's analog clock as I perfected my chewing pace.
My controlling attitude and competitive nature collided during my teenage years. I can't pinpoint when it all began, but like too many girls I was teased for my appearance from a young age. I didn't understand that the verbal harassment was bullying so I took it as a challenge. Suddenly my life was a series of numbers: calories burned, calories consumed, miles ran, hours at the gym,and nights I went to bed hungry. There was endless arithmetic and the unsettling knowledge that each meal would "require" an equal reactionary step. That kind of number crunching was exhausting.
It took five years, but I eventually rescued myself from the fun house mirrors I saw everywhere. I became more concerned with the angle of my arabesques than how I looked in a ballet leotard. Bathroom mirrors were used for fixing smeared eyeliner instead of performing a full body assessment. However, I still struggled to erase the numbers I associated with food. My consumption was once again healthy, yet my attitude kept eating clinical and not enjoyable.
I have been classified as "basic" for many reasons. I love Diet Coke, wearing leggings as pants, and have listened to Taylor Swift's 1989 more than any album on my pink iPhone. Not to mention I'm currently shopping for a new pair of Uggs. I have zero shame in my basic game, although I do dislike how it's used as a way for women to put each other down. One of the most public displays of my basic nature is an endearment for the ever popular #foodstagram.
It started off as an extension of my personality. I sassily overused hashtags and showed off sushi dinners from trendy restaurants. But it gradually became more than that. In general, I enjoy Instagram because (as a former photography and art history student) I'm all about aesthetics. I love how lighting, composition and design can interact to create beautiful products. Instagram made food about more than just the chore of eating, and putting X calories into my body. Instead, I began to focus on the plating of my food, and exploring new combinations to create exciting color palettes.
My family says that I've started playing with my food. I couldn't agree more. Instagram has given me a platform to find the fun in food again. So go ahead and say I'm basic. Say that I've given in to mainstream media, and lost my originality. I think I've gained something that's more than worth it.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.