#EDAW2015, #effyourbeautystandards, #spoonieproblems and self hate (TW)

I don’t get on with my body very much. In fact that’s quite an understatement. And today that self loathing hit me like a sledgehammer. I’ve got a romantic day out with my husband planned, at a spa, we’ll be getting massages and spend time in steam rooms and jacuzzis. It all sounds heavenly. The problem is that I need swimwear now, so I thought I’d pop in to town and pick up a swimsuit. In my excitement about the spa day I forgot just how bad it could be. As I stood in the changing room, listening to the size 8 teen in the next cubicle complain she was too fat and needed to be at least a size 6, and staring at myself in the full length mirror I felt utterly broken.

There I stood, size 20, an overhanging belly, fat dimpled thighs and upper legs, sagging boobs, and massive silver stretchmarks cobwebbing their way across large swathes of my flesh.. I felt disgusting. I wanted to be sick, I wanted to starve, I wanted to binge, I wanted to cut and carve and tear away chunks of flesh. I wanted to physically hurt.

Here’s the thing, before I met my husband I was struggling with really disordered eating. I was eating a single slice of toast a day, unless I needed to go for a meal with someone, in which case I’d eat in front of them then deny myself even toast for a few days. I was determined no one would know what I was doing, in case they tried to stop me. I’d wake up every morning and do 45mins of exercise, then the toast, come lunchtime I’d skip food and exercise again. In the evening it was skip food and do stretches. And I lost weight, and the compliments rolled on it.

Sure I was light-headed most of the time, my stomach ached ceaselessly, and if I dared have an alcoholic drink I’d be hammered and in a state almost instantly. But everyone kept telling me how good I looked.

What hurts most now is that I was only a size 14 when I started this, and I thought I looked horrific. I got down to a size 10 before I met my husband, early on in our relationship I confessed what I’d been doing and he was a massive help in getting my eating under control again. Often cooking me healthy lunches to take to work with me.

However we hadn’t been together long when my back went wrong, suddenly I was severely limited in my mobility and exercise went out the window. I often needed help just getting to the bathroom in those early days, and so the weight piled on, and on, and on.

Over the years I kept thinking, “when my back is sorted I can get more active again”, of course it’s now 6 years later and while I manage the pain better, I still cannot do much.

I occasionally tried loose forms of diets, but any hint of restricting diet triggered me back into those old eating habits, it was just never enough. I wanted to starve myself, but of course this was no solution, so to soothe myself I’d binge instead. I know it makes no logical sense, but I guess in one way I gain comfort from eating plus it is still a form of self harm. Right now just talking about this I want to gorge myself, I’m not hungry, I want to be simultaneously comforted and hurt myself. Self harm inspires the same odd mix in me. It is pain, but it soothes.

At one point I saw a counselor for a mental health assessment via my gp, I told her about the disordered eating, she looked me up and down (I was a size 16 by then) and just said, “well it’s obviously not a problem now”. That’s right, my constant fight with food and my body was not a problem because I was too fat to be suffering.

More recently I’ve tried taking inspiration from the wonderful women involved in #effyourbeautystandards and other plus size fashion. There are some incredible women, with these beautiful bodies, some are even similar to mine. But when I see theirs I see beauty and when I see mine I see grotesque. I also struggle as many involved in plus size fashion are larger but their skin is taut and young, pert breasts, firm stomachs, not sagging looseness.

I feel like I’ve lost my youth to my back pain, not just in terms of time, but in terms of my body. I feel like youthfulness has been stolen from me and I’m only 30. I just feel like I’m stuck in an older body, functionally and aesthetically.

I want to feel like my body isn’t this alien cage I’m trapped in, all fat and pain. But it is.

Yes, it’s borne to wonderful children, but even then I was desperately ill through both pregnancies, with one ending early thanks to my body.

It fails at looking good. (Fat)
It fails at movement. (Back, wrists, knees, shoulders, elbows, neck, shoulders..)
It fails at pain. (Back, wrists, knees, shoulders, elbows, neck, shoulders..)
It fails at pregnancy. (Hyperemesis gravidarum)
It fails at childbirth. (Prematurity)
It fails at breastfeeding. (Not enough milk, even with drugs)
It fails at femininity. (PCOS hirsutism)
It fails at ovulation. (PCOS)
It fails at eating normally.
It fails at health.
It fails.
It fails.
It fails.

I fail.

8 thoughts on “#EDAW2015, #effyourbeautystandards, #spoonieproblems and self hate (TW)

  1. This is so honest and raw. I am so sorry that you feel your body has failed you – I’m sure patriarchal beauty standards do not help. I hope you find some peace with your body – it clearly houses a great writer!

  2. Oh crikey…you could be me.
    I was a functioning anorexic through most of my military career. I only became happy with my body after it slettled to size 12 … and stayed there … After a breakup.
    Then I had my child and I shrank because I couldn’t eat, (hoorah thunk I ) and when my body realised I was eating again, I ballooned.
    I also have an invisible problem with both feet which makes high impact exercise impossible.
    The trouble is, the very thought of dieting triggers me EXACLY the same way it triggers you, for the same reasons.
    And the ironic thing? When I started dieting I was 8stone 12…lighter than Jess Ennis.
    Dieting is a mindfuck, made even more so because of what it does to your natural “set point’, metabolism, (ie it makes you fat) and long term self esteem.

    If neither of us had due tied we’d both still be slim.

    THANKYOU for writing this. X

    1. Yes, absolutely. It’s not even going on a diet, just thinking about it sets everything off. I’ve deliberately not bothered getting new batteries for the bathroom scales because I know where that leads too. I haven’t got the faintest idea what my weight is now, and don’t dare find out, because any time I have my mind just flips back to the daily weigh in and the need to constantly outdo the day before.

      I had hyperemesis in both pregnancies, I forgot to write this in the blog. I was vomiting if I even had a sip of water, I was desperately ill, constantly in hospital on a drip, and miserable beyond belief. I’d tell people in my most miserable/desperate voice that I’d lost too much weight, but inside be so proud. I knew it was dangerous, for me and the baby, and I hated being so ill, but I was losing weight!

  3. I’m sorry to hear your pain. But it pretty much describes my Problem with this new wave of plus sized models. It’s like you say: you look at them and See beauty, but when you look at yourself you See grotesque. Because they, amazingly so, are all stretch-mark free, cellulite free, do not have a single mole on their flawless plus-sized skin, able to stretch more than the incredible hulk’s ridiculous purple pants… First of all, the plus sized models are still a superficial defeniton of beauty that is based in hair, makeup and fashion. Secondly (even the ones who flaunt themselves in plain cotton underwear), they’re all still photoshopped! Seriously, I snorted laughter when I saw the proud foto of a Blogger next to Tess and her unphotoshopped knees. The laughter wasn’t because of her fat knees (size 24 here, hello!). It was because the people who so admire her seem not to realize that little Miss effyourbeautystandards uses and abuses as much of Photoshop as anyone else! Am I supposed to applaud at superficiality because of the size? Does fat suddenly not make us hypothermia-resistant, does it also automaticall worth mire? Frankly, due to my size, I’m glad for the surge in fashionable plus size clothes, but only to a certain extent. I say effanybeautystandards, especially the phoney photoshopped ones, no matter the size. I do hope you manage to overcome your trouble with your self-image and that you manage to rid yourself of any comparison. It’s all hypocrisy tha is really just not worth the trouble.

    1. Thank you for this. I agree about the photoshopping, I think there are very few occasions where it is necessary, especially when the emphasis is on promoting the variety of beautiful real bodies. (Quick confession – I may have photoshopped some baby inflicted food stains off the photo in my newest blog post)

      I want to see women with scars and “flaws”, because I want to see that mine don’t make me a freak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.