Are you tired of feeling like you can never measure up? According to mainstream media, we should be spending our time chasing "perfection," snarking on others, and placing our self-worth in our looks. We're over it!
Maybe you think you don't know anyone who suffers from an eating disorder or poor body image.
But you might be wrong. Not all of us are underweight, and some of the most devastating effects of the media's focus on women's appearance and weight can be silent and invisible.
I have asked to remain anonymous because I'm not comfortable with some of my friends and family knowing about my eating disorder.
When I was 15, I told someone for the first time -- a longtime friend who struggled with anorexic behaviors. I told her I thought I had binge-eating disorder.
When I was 16, I told another friend, this one recently diagnosed with EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) that I might be bulimic.
Now I'm 18. And until the beginning of this summer, when I began occasionally posting about it on my blog, that was the sum total of everyone who knew about my disordered eating.
I didn't feel I could lay claim to an eating disorder. For me, my biggest fear is that I won't be
believed when I tell someone about my disordered eating. I don't look like the typical picture of someone with an eating disorder. Because I'm not thin and I love to cook and talk about food and I alternate between a number of different disordered food patterns, I've doubted myself a lot.
When I started college, I resolved to find a new therapist, someone I felt comfortable talking to about this. I've been diagnosed with EDNOS and am starting the process of recovery now.
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is an umbrella term for eating disorders that don't meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. I don't purge frequently enough to meet the qualifications for bulimia, and my body weight isn't low enough to qualify for anorexia.
Sometimes I scare myself with how I act, how I eat, how I don't. Once I skipped so many meals and walked so far that I actually lost consciousness on the side of the road. I don't know how long I was out for. Luckily, nothing bad happened to me, but anything could have.
I cry over my weight almost every night. I fret over every bite I eat, or don't. I make myself throw up about once a week. About twice a month, I decide I'm having a fast day.
And every once in a while, I have a totally normal day. Last Friday, I cooked myself breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had three tasty, pleasant, normal-sized meals, and I genuinely enjoyed all of them.
I went a night without crying.
Then I remembered that the nutritionist I'm seeing as part of my recovery wanted me to keep a food journal for three days, and I panicked.
I'm at the very beginning of this journey, and it's a really scary one. I don't know if I'll ever be able to have normal days more than I have days when I am paralyzed by the number of choices available in a grocery store, or days when I eat so much my stomach hurts.
I don't know if I'll ever get better.
Little by little, though, I'm overcoming the stigma I feel around my eating disorder. My close friends know, my boyfriend knows, my therapist knows. I can go a few days at a time eating normally, and I usually can at least tell when I'm not.
Someday, maybe, when I'm doing better, I'll be able to advocate for girls like me. I'll be able to educate others about all the different people who are affected by eating disorders. I'll be able to talk about my own experience. I'll be able to put my name at the top of this post.
I hope so, anyway.
I might not be ready to put my name with my story yet, but I am ready, both in this post, and under my own name, to take the #Proud2Bme Challenge. I want to tell other girls like me that their real bodies are good enough, and, more than that, that our bodies are not the most important thing about us. Please take the pledge and help stop the body policing and appearance obsession that led me, and could lead other girls, into such an unhealthy level of hate for our bodies.
Are you struggling with an eating disorder or do you know someone who is? Call the National Eating Disorders Association's toll-free helpline for support: (800)-931-2237.