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.
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.