Content warning: This post deals with mental health and eating disorders.
I learned about body shaming in sixth grade, when the boy I had the biggest crush on told me to “go home and take some growing pills,” because my breasts hadn’t yet developed. I did go home, but I cried to my perplexed mother instead, who encouraged me to shake it off.
This silken-haired boy with the one perfect dimple was my true love. I couldn’t get over it.
That moment was a defining one in my young life. I was transitioning. The way people viewed me was changing, and this acknowledgement became the first tendrils of confusing judgement. It was disruptive to my world, where I had played with my toy goat and dreamt of owning a kitten.
Little did I know deep inside me, flanking my panic disorder, an eating disorder was brewing. It wouldn’t rear its tenacious head until many years later, but it stuck the landing when it did.
When I was a junior in high school, my weight reached the highest it’s ever been. When I look at old pictures of myself, I am shocked by how, at any time in my history of being alive, I could be captured as a hint chubby. And it’s not to demean myself in any way, just an observation, as I have spent so much of my life thin… and painfully so.
I don’t recall how it started, but the advent of my eating disorder came on the heels of crippling anxiety. The kind you have to ride out as your body is possessed, stiff in bed, as goose bumps spring out along your skin, as you shake and cry and retch and try to be as still as possible as the tsunami overtakes you and you think you might actually die. The kind that makes you hide, that flips into action at a hair trigger. Most especially, the kind you can never ever reveal to anyone else because you fear an exorcism of sorts.
In one of my many attempts to exorcise this demon, I found myself in a therapist’s office. A famed place, where I would plunk my purse and coat down and we would skate on the very uppermost tip top of my problems and history. This therapist, a female with an encouraging smile, kept prodding me to go deeper, and I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with her drive to unravel the spool of my anxiety.