Hi all. I am hoping someone here has some experience with this and can offer advice/support, or can at least commiserate with where I’m at right now in terms of my body image and relationship with food. I feel like I am struggling to find a balance between being very restrictive and kicking my own ass so to speak, and telling myself that I just don’t care about it at all.
I got picked on for my weight/appearance A LOT when I was younger. My mom is/has been overweight, my grandma was a very petite woman (as in, less than 5 feet tall and less than 100 pounds her whole life) but extremely image conscious, and I think saw it as a personal slight on her that my mom was bigger. My grandma shamed my mom a lot in front of her and behind her back (like, I remember us being in JC Penney one time and my grandmother was trying to get a salesperson to help her find some jeans for my mom and was saying something like “no, you don’t understand, she is VERY BIG” which just pisses me off so much now to think about it, because for fuck’s sake, it’s not like she was an abomination, she’s just a bigger woman. so fucking what? how can you talk like that about your daughter?) She really started to get onto me too when I was a pre-teen and went through what I now know is a COMPLETELY NORMAL chubby stage right before puberty. I got that “you’d be so pretty if you just lost weight and got your hair out of your face” shit all the time and I knew she was just appalled that she had to shop for me in the girl’s plus section.
Anyway, I absorbed all of that and got all into dieting and exercising when I was 10 or 11. Obviously, in retrospect I’d say it was definitely unhealthy, I remember being so obsessed with counting calories, and trying to eat as little fat per day as I possibly could... but, I got really thin in junior high school and gained a lot of praise for that from my family, which again, made a huge (negative) impact on me. As I got older, my weight fluctuated as my body developed and I struggled with a lot of depression/anxiety which fucked up my relationship with food a lot. I went through periods of not eating hardly anything for days because anxiety made it feel like food just burned a hole through my stomach, yet depression often made me want to self-soothe with food. Add to this the fact that no one in my home cooked. I ate a ton of cereal and boxed mac and cheese, etc, or my mom would buy the two of us fast food several times a week.
So, when I moved out and went to college, I bought a few cookbooks and taught myself to cook, and learned I was actually really good at it. That was very healing for me, but I still went through these cycles of severe deprivation/starvation/obsessive exercise and calorie counting, or not caring at all what went into my body and eating out too much. Again, a lot of it had to do with depression and anxiety issues, and gaining/losing as I was put on different antidepressants or how well I was self-managing my symptoms.
I’m writing this now because even though I know I’ve gotten better, and I cook many (like, 70-90% depending on the week) of my meals at home, I still argue with myself about so many things that I eat and it’s so hard to make peace with my body sometimes. Despite all of my habits I’ve been the same dress size give or take for 7-8 years with small bits of fluctuation, up one size or down one. I’m proportionate, I can shop for clothes in most stores because they all carry my size, I inherited the hourglass shape that women on my dad’s side of the family have. I’m lucky in that. I have privilege in that, which in a way kind of makes me feel shittier and shallow for feeling shitty about the way that I look in the first place (beating myself up for beating myself up is one of my most familiar forms of self-torture.) The city that I live in is also very, very image conscious. I think it’s consistently ranked with places like Los Angeles in terms of overall focus on appearances.
The only thing that’s ever caused me to be much thinner is low-carb dieting, but that sort of fed into the whole obsessive bit for me too to be honest. That, and it seriously fucked with my neurotransmitters and caused me to be rock bottom depressed.
I think I said here that I don’t step on the scale because it doesn’t help me at all.
Frankly, I should probably talk to a therapist about all of this. I can’t afford to see my old counselor right now and I’ve got two weeks left in the semester where I can talk to the therapists on campus. I may see if there’s some kind of resource for reduced rate/sliding scale counseling in my area, because I just don’t feel like this is as healthy of a relationship as it could be between me and food, and me and my body.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I just needed to get all of that out of my head before I go about my day much more.