Living with anorexia: "Thighs touching? Repulsive. The folds of my belly? Disgusting."

Kelsey and her cat





I will run my hands over my stomach and smooth them over my hips. I’m looking for bulges and bumps. When my body feels smooth – like a doll’s – I am reassured, my mood uplifted. When I detect unwanted lumps and excess, it plummets.

This is a reflexive move now, I am unconscious of it, just of the results. I will do this 50, 100 times a day. I will sit with friends or at work, my hands twitching the material of my top over my stomach.

I move to angle and position myself flatteringly, always concealing, adjusting. I am relentlessly aware of every fold and crease in my body, every lump. I abhor the feeling of flesh touching flesh involuntary. Thighs touching? Repulsive. The folds of my belly? Disgusting.

My mood fluctuates constantly throughout the day depending on glimpses of my self in reflective surfaces. Up and down, I alternate between feeling confident and absolutely despising my body. I am rarely relaxed. I am a tense, stiff individual. I don’t want people to touch me.

I don’t want people to see me or feel my misshapen figure. What are they thinking? Can they see weight gain? Are they as aware of it as I am? Am I just another young woman without self control to them now? An overeater, couldn’t say no, can’t stop self indulgently feeding herself.

Every single thing I put in my mouth leaves its impression on my mood. I tabulate how much I’ve eaten, I think about it before I eat it, I think about it after I eat it. I regret everything I’ve eaten. I resent everything I’m about to eat. I am very hungry.

I do menu research online before going out to dinner, I make room for anticipated future food by withholding during the day. During the week. Unexpected high calorie meals can make me spin out of control. Control is key. I want to go running and not stop until I’ve left a trail of excess flesh behind me. 


This is “healthy” me. Recovering from an eating disorder is exhausting. I am obsessive, I am compulsive and I am controlling. I am unreasonable and I am irrational. I am my own worst enemy. I am one of the lucky ones. 
Was it worse before? In a way it was better.

I knew what I wanted and had no compunction in attaining it. There is something powerfully – addictively – satisfying in having such control over your body, your desires and hungers. In hiding it and in watching people struggle with their own unwieldy bodies. It’s a brittle and unsustainable satisfaction; the power is illusory.

This makes absolutely no sense to me on an intellectual level. I cannot comprehend why I do this. Why I’ve done what I’ve done, stooped to the levels I’ve stooped to, had the thoughts I’ve had.

I was born with the kind of figure my society is obsessed with, worships. I should be thanking the genetic gods that I don’t need to diet to fit in, to tick those important beauty boxes to be considered attractive.

Instead of relaxing I moved to take a stranglehold of my body, determining to never let it slip out of my grasp – the ultimate failure. This is vanity, nothing nobler, nothing profound.I consider myself a feminist. More than this, I have moved in an overt way to vocally and physically label myself a feminist. Internally, I am a mass of contradictions.

My feminist voice is fucking loud: it’s a reverberating, extorting, aggressive overhead announcement. A smaller voice is competing with it. Undermining my self esteem, fueling self doubt in a quiet, piercing undertone. Small but crucial choices I make today will pick a side, will bolster one or the other. Each day I am proven a hypocrite in my thoughts, but today maybe not in my actions.

Twenty-one-year-old  Kelsey Tribe is in between degrees and recovering from an eating disorder that left her with a deep feminist streak and an impulse for organisation. Read her blog here.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from an eating disorder, don’t stay quiet. Contact The Butterfly Foundation. You can access their website here or call their national support line on 1800 33 4673.