I don’t remember exactly when I discovered I was ‘fat’. It was like a lightbulb went on and all of a sudden, what used to be fine now repulsed me. My body, I mean. It’s hard for any of us to pin-point when we become ‘body aware’. And, unfortunately, it’s getting younger and younger.
My Mom will argue that I was ‘never fat’. No, no, I was ‘plump’. “You were cute!” she says. And I love her for it… but let’s face it, I was fat. I had cellulite at age 12. I was teased at school. I felt gross about myself (it seems) all at once… sometime in the seventh grade.
I remember leaving school in June and coming back in September of grade 8, 30lbs lighter. The weight loss wasn’t done in a healthy way. Quite frankly, it scared the crap out of my parents. I didn’t really know how to lose weight properly – so I just started exercising like crazy (about 2-3 times a day if I could). I also stopped eating much of anything. Fat was especially the enemy. I decided, for some reason, that 6 grams of fat per day was my limit. I now realize how ridiculous that is! (I’m also 40+ lbs heavier than I was then! HA!).
If we went out to eat (and our family did a LOT), I would never get anything but a Salad. I knew every Salad at every restaurant in the greater Hamilton area. If I consumed any food that I deemed to be “fatty”, I’d obsess over it and feel guilty for days.
When we went to Disney World in the Spring of 1997 (8th grade), I was thrilled to be ‘almost under 100lbs!’. I was 5′ 7.5”. I should NEVER have been anywhere NEAR 100lbs. I had a Body Mass Index of 15.4, which is grossly underweight. I did not menstruate until I was 16 because of my low body fat and extreme workouts.
Every entry in this diary from 8th grade involves food or my weight in some way. It’s unbelievable.
Read these excerpts to give you an idea of my mindset:
Feb 16th, 1997-
“…Had a REALLY bad diet day today. Too much chocolate! I’m still a little sick… but not too bad… I weighed 104 pounds today! Holy Moly! I think my cold has got to me… I’m usually 107.”
Feb 20th, 1997 –
“Today I pigged out on Chocolate… BAD GIRL. It was so good though. Oh well, a little cheating once in a blue moon never killed anybody.”
Feb. 25, 1997-
“(My plan for next year highschool): 6:15am get up, 6:15am-6:45am EXERCISE, 6:45-7:15am Shower/get ready, 7:15am-7:40am Make luch, get ready, remember to EAT.” (Wow… can you say CRAZY!?)
Sunday March 2nd, 1997-
“Today I weighed 103lbs! That is real small! Well, I made up for it at Ding-Ho (we went there for supper)…”
Monday March 3rd, 1997-
“…I have band tomorrow, but I’m going to skip. I need to do aerobics. I really want the best body possible for Florida.”
The entries go on and on. Partly, these diary pieces make me laugh and shake my head, but they also make me really sad. The fact that I was so focused on how ‘skinny’ I was is bizarre and depressing. My view of myself was distorted, because I was ridiculously skinny when I went to Disney World – to me, I almost looked
immaciated. (See pic).
But I remember the intense guilt I felt after I had a few Chips one night in Orlando. The experience is burned into my mind because it was so stressful for me. Everyone was eating Chips and chatting and I contemplated and agonized over whether to eat a Chip for what seemed like hours (probably more like 15 minutes). Finally, I reached in the bowl and pulled out a single Chip and slowly put it to my mouth. I remember wondering why no one was noticing that I was eating it. It is such a strange memory – I can even recall the guilt mixed with elation upon consuming several Chips at once. Yes, I was seriously THAT nuts.
I can’t pin-point WHY I felt so insecure about my body – whether it was images I saw on TV, in magazines, the girls around me… what? I’m not sure. I’m not sure I even knew. I just knew that I needed to be skinny… and I was – but never skinny enough. I was pretty unhealthy and had low energy and a distorted view of my body for many years. And being thin didn’t boost my self esteem either, as I was mortified in grade 9 and felt like a huge loser at a School where I knew no one. And I had a run of shoplifting that coming year which landed me arrested and in HUGE trouble.
I know there are so many girls who are this age and struggling today with issues of body image and weight… and girls, I really want to tell you that it will all be okay. That you really don’t need to obsess over your body… that you are beautiful inside and out, no matter what the scale says. But I know those are cliche words… no matter how much I truly mean them. In time, like me, you will become aware of the truth… that a skinny body does not bring beauty… that beauty radiates from within – that the more you focus on those around you, the less you’ll worry about how tiny your waist is.
Big hugs and blessings to you all.