This post deals with eating disorders and might be triggering for some readers.
My entire life I was taught that being fat was the worst thing in the world. As a child I was taught that being fat made me unhealthy, unlovable and that the only way that I could find happiness was by shrinking myself.
Even as a teenager being a size 14 was always the dream. If I could just be a size 14 I would be happy. Maybe people would stop making comments about my body. If I were a size 14 I would have more in common with my friends, I wouldn’t have to shop in different stores, we could even swap clothes! Being a size 14 was going to make me happy! Society told me so, the TV told me so, my family told me so.
But for me, being a size 14 almost killed me.
I was 25. I went to the gym six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I meal prepped. I took supplements and appetite suppressants. I logged every single calorie that went into my mouth and when it wasn’t on my meal plan I forced myself to be sick. Even sometimes when it was on my meal plan, I forced myself to be sick. By the age of 25 I had been suffering from bulimia for eight long years.
Watch: Angie Kent opens up about her bulimia on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Post continues after video.
Suffering from bulimia for so long made me physically and mentally weak. I kept no food down and I was always thinking about what I could and could not eat. I would weigh myself multiple times a day just to make sure that I hadn’t gained any weight. I would take my scales to my partners when I spent the night and I took fistfuls of laxatives when the bathroom was too close to people and I didn’t want people to hear me vomit.
Nobody noticed that I was dying on the inside – I was an expert at hiding it. But we are also so programmed to celebrate weight loss that it never occurred to anyone to ask me if I was OK. I was just complimented on my success. I starved myself so that I could fit society’s idea of what beautiful is. I was taught that being fat made me less than. Being on a diet told people that I wanted to be like them and every kilogram lost was a step toward acceptance in a world where, as a fat gay teen, I never felt I belonged.
Society teaches us that weight loss should be achieved no matter the cost. So that is what I did. I made myself sick at work, at home, in restaurants and I got results. But there were signs, signs that were missed. I have allergies and I would use these an excuse for the redness of my eyes. I wore makeup every day to hide the broken blood vessels on my face. I collapsed at work, twice and while the Emergency Department doctors had concerns about my heart, instead of sending me to see a psychologist they suggested that I lose weight.
I laid in the hospital bed, 89kg, a size 14 and the nurse told me that I was hard to cannulate because I was fat. In reality, I was dehydrated, because I hadn’t eaten or drank anything of substance in months. The health care system failed me. There were no public psychiatric beds available and I couldn’t afford a private bed, so I was sent home to sort it out myself.