Trigger warning: This post deals with eating disorders and might be triggering for some readers.
I recently bought a pair of pants that fit me. For many people, that's not exactly a revolutionary act. Except for me, it was.
For years I have purchased pants I squeezed my stomach into. To secure the button, I sucked in and hunched over. It hurt. But I always assured myself that they would stretch or I would shrink.
I used my clothes to discipline myself. My waistband was like a whiplash of punishment - a physical barrier to stop the impulse to indulge. I walked around in pain. Pants cutting into my waist. High heels blistering and cutting my feet. Barely breathing because of SPANX. Lacy underwear sneaking up my ass crack.
I only recently realised what an insane way of living this was. I expected my body to conform to a piece of clothing, rather than finding clothing that simply fit. I came home from a night out and thought nothing of seeing my body covered in marks from my clothing. Nothing.
After all, women have equated beauty with pain for centuries, back to the days of rib breaking corsets. We've always been told to sacrifice comfort and ease to achieve status and self worth.
Personally, I’ve had a complicated relationship with my body. As a fat child I walked the predictable and well-worn path of eating disorders and gruelling exercise programs.
I'd swallow the bitter taste of bile in my throat from vomiting up my food. Fat was not just a part of my body, fat was a feeling. It was an obsession. It was everything.
I spent years enduring starvation, trying anything to shrink my stomach. From punishing exercise programs to drinking “detox” teas that left my stomach in cramps and caused diarrhea.
Through my eating disorder recovery, I avoided exercise or any other triggers. For years.
But when I began to experience symptoms of anxiety, my doctor suggested exercise. So I joined a gym.