In light of Netflix’s new trailer, “To The Bone” I have found myself with high hopes that we will be able to progress towards a better, more well-rounded understanding of eating disorders.
This movie addresses the overlooked issue that is quite common amongst all genders and ages. Eating disorders do not discriminate, and neither should people who have never had one or does not know someone who has one. In today’s society it is a prevalent disorder that needs to be addressed – not pushed as a goal through MSM, fashion, and expectations. We push our youth far too hard and flaunt unhealthy and unrealistic body goals as a necessary accessory.
We should not parade around subjecting others to opinions on who is the “skinniest” or the “fattest”. The “God, I look so fat right now” commentary perpetuates this unhealthy mindset.
After watching this trailer, I thought about something. I have never been “skinny,” at least not the level of skinny that I always sought to attain. I have also never been hospitalized, or never let my eating issues take full control. But they were there.
The little voice whispering words like a lullaby. Masking the intent with affirmations and a drive to succeed.
My mother was bulimic – I grew up watching her eat food and then immediately scamper off to the bathroom. When she came back her eyes were bloodshot and puffy with moisture, her face flushed, and her knuckles pink. And ten years later I found myself looking in the mirror with a similar expression.
I’m naturally a bit more muscular, with a medium build. Participating in year-round sports helped maintain my more athletic appearance. But I’ve always weighed more than others in my age group. At 5’3″ I weighed 140lbs in high school. I wasn’t excessively overweight, but I found myself believing I was getting fatter.
According to my mother I was “fat.” According to the doctor my suggested BMI was a bit high for my age; categorizing me in the excessive weight category. According to MSM and marketing I wasn’t tall enough, my waist wasn’t small enough, and my legs weren’t long enough.
My freshmen year in high school begun my descent, but it was not until the stress of my looming graduation and familial issues did my eating issues take hold. I found something that I figured I would share — it’s a note from myself my senior year in high school. This is only a small glimpse into how I would talk to myself. That tone you can hear in the note is the exact tone that would make me feel useless, fat, and a failure. I counted calories, puked if I ate heavier meals, sucked on candies if I felt faint, and was always sick. I hated myself for not being tall and skinny, with that commonly obsessed “thigh gap”. My naturally muscle legs became my obsession. They needed to be slim – I needed to run longer to thin them out. So I ran, and kept running. I was losing muscle mass, had little to no energy for sports and work, and I was losing myself. I made goals for myself, but even then it wasn’t enough.
I look back at photos of myself and I can’t fully understand how I ever thought I was “fat”. Yet even then I never considered myself to have an eating disorder, and even now it is hard to admit. Because I never achieved that “thigh gap” or protruding hip bones, and I was never caught nor hospitalized it wasn’t an eating disorder. To me, it was an eating issue – one that came and went. Which was in part true, my eating habits came and went over the past 10 years, but the voice has always remained. “Eat less,” “you’re too fat,” “thighs are too big,” “waist is too flabby,” “arms too jiggly.” These are phrases that continue with me even now. It’s hard to ignore or change the perspective of this, but understanding the root of the issue has helped. Educating myself on nutrition and excess has eliminated my obsessive need to count calories and weigh myself everyday. With education I focus on portions, measurements, and a healthier outlook. Regardless of the changes made, I still struggle today – and so many more people out there have this destructive voice in their heads.
The pressures of society does little to quell the growing fear of being different, confident and comfortable in one’s skin. It scares me to know that so many struggle with an eating disorder, but so little is done to recognize the signs. I hope that Lily Collin’s new movie will help illuminate the issue issuing plaguing so many of us.