Why do we hate ourselves at 15?

Me at 15

Why do we spend our teenaged years hating ourselves and our bodies so much? Is it universal that we look back at photos of ourselves and realise that we were actually pretty and not the hideous mostrosities we thought we were?

I posed for this photo very reluctantly at my mother’s insistence. I was about 15 at the time this photo was taken in 1986.

At Australian size 12-14 this was the thinnest I got. Ever.

But there was no triumph, only shame that I wasn’t thin enough. I was right in the middle of my worst body-hatred cycle (and undiagnosed Major Depression). I had been dieting under supervision (and restricting without supervision, although my mother, doctors and diet counsellors did not know it) since I was pre-teen. I had, in fact, lost a large amount of weight, but the weightloss goals that had been set for me and by me were unacheivable. My weightloss had plateaued, which really wasn’t suprising following 4 years of pretty much constant dieting and restriction. In despiration, I had latched on to a diet (recommended by a doctor!) that allowed me one boiled egg with one piece of unbuttered toast for breakfast and a small piece of grilled chicken with cabbage for dinner. I could eat all the cabbage I liked! Since I loathed both tuna with iceberg lettuce and no substitutions were permitted, I did not eat lunch at all. I remember there were some kind of tablets and a herbal solution I had to put under my tounge, as well. The lack of food made me nauseous, but I embraced that as an excuse not to eat anything else.

In short, I was well and truly in Disordered Eating Land.

I was miserable – not because I was fat, but because I was told from every side and at every moment that my body was unacceptable and that I did not deserve to eat or to have happiness until I reached some hypothetical ‘goal weight’. Because I was told that losing weight was more important than caring for myself.

I have written previously about this period in my life, as part of a series on my awakening to Fat Acceptance.


5 Responses to “Why do we hate ourselves at 15?”

  1. 1 Ashley Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 1:21 am

    You were lovely at that age, as you still are now. At 15, I hated myself too, but for very different reasons. I was 5’2 and 85 pounds soaking wet. Family members, friends, and teachers would joke and rumor me to be anorexic. My mom was the only one who seemed to understand, because she went through it too. I tried to gain weight, but it just wasn’t happening. I was told I looked like a starving Ethiopian and that my collar and hip bones were “disgusting.” I layered on the clothes to make it look like I had some weight on me. Finally I just realized that there was nothing wrong with me and I didn’t care what anyone else thought or said. It was pretty liberating. I’ve gained a whole 10 pounds since then, whoo!

    Anyways, enough about me. You seem to love yourself more now though, right? It appears to me that you do, just by reading your posts.

  2. 2 sleepydumpling Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 11:45 am

    What an awesome photo!

    I have no photos of me from about 12 years old through to 18, and then only a few between 18 and 30.

    I regret it deeply now.

    But I hated myself so much, and like you was on both sanctioned and unsanctioned weight loss gigs from a very early age, and was deep in depression land.

    I dunno about you, but I hated myself from as early as I can remember, through until I was about 32!

  3. 3 Patricia Helowicz Friday, 16 April 2010 at 8:03 am

    I was no different. 15 was hard, how did I survive…Maybe one day we can write a post together? I would like that.

  4. 4 Maki P Sunday, 13 June 2010 at 8:20 am

    To be fair that’s an awful swimsuit, oh the 80s what a terrible time for fashion.
    But, anyway it’s ok to be insecure when you’re a teen, teen years are the worst; to me the best time in my life was when I stopped being a teen. I guess that’s why body issues are so bad, I mean it’s bad enough, without everybody telling you your body is wrong. I actually congratulate you for surviving it must have take courage

  5. 5 thescalesdontlie Monday, 23 May 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I think it’s universal that we look back at many periods in our lives and think – OMG – why why why
    Why – did I think I was fat and unattractive?
    Why – did I hate myself so?
    Why – couldn’t I see how beautiful I was?
    I can look back at many times in my life now and think, if only I had been happy with where I was at! I was always trying to be thinner, prettier, more popular, I never stopped in the moment and took the time to realise that I was just fine the way I was – great even!
    I also was always told that my body was unacceptable, I was surrounded by women in my family who were full of food contradictions, these women seemed to enjoy food more then life itself, massive European meals were served and devoured for months – kilos were added to their small frames and then one would decide she had put on too much weight and the latest fad diet would be followed, religiously until either the weight was gone, or they were over the diet. It was always an all or nothing mentality – and I still fight this urge in many areas of my life…… I am trying to change this pattern, and I know with time I will, but with my formative years being surrounded by this “all or nothing” example – it is proving to be extremely difficult.
    We cant look back and sigh and even be a little sad of what was, but we need to live in the hear and now, as humans I think we will always be a little self conscious about whether we are enough, but what we need to do is find peace with who we are at any one point in time, this will in the long run be the answer to our inner happiness.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not there yet, but I am truly trying a little bit at a time to stop beating myself for what I am not, and celebrating myself for who I am, and maybe slowly I will start to have the self love we all deserve!
    Oh dear – I am sorry to have gone on and on about myself and my issues, please forgive me

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