It’s happening again.
Feelings of failure and inadequacy.
All of it surrounding and encompassing my lifelong battle with self image.
Don’t roll your eyes. I’m serious. I’ve been struggling with a negative self image my whole life. And I run into people all the time who say how can you not like the way you look?
If only I knew the answer to that question.
In high school I was teeny tiny. Didn’t weigh a hundred pounds until my junior year. (Remember I’m five feet two). And I was a gymnast and a cheerleader and I ran track. Fit was not even the word to describe me. My senior year my gymnastics coach weighed us at the beginning of training. I was 113. You know what she told me? That I needed to lose weight. She wanted me around 108.
And that’s the first time I remember obsessing about my body.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming her. She had charts and graphs and literature obtained from the Federal Government about how much a person should weigh based on her height. She was simply following protocol.
The next year I went to college and naturally gained 15 pounds. Why? Because A) There was a lot of beer drinking and late night trips to Jack in the Box; and B) I was no longer working out 4 hours a day.
And this is when I began hating myself.
I struggled. I compared my body to all the other girls’ bodies. I ate boiled chicken. And ran until my body ached. Then would go with my roommates to our favorite pizza joint and eat a medium pepperoni pizza by myself. And go back to my house and take laxatives. (I was too afraid to make myself puke. I didn’t want to be one of *those* girls). I have no idea what I thought taking laxatives would accomplish but I felt like it was doing something to counter balance my calorie intake.
The routine would start again the next day. Eat boiled chicken. Exercise. Binge.
It’s hard to even write this stuff because I feel like I’m still in the middle of the routine, only the grown up version. And I wish I could stop obsessing and just be OK being ME.
It’s why I do these crazy diets and cleanses. I keep thinking OK, if I can lose ten pounds then I’ll be happy with the way I look. So it begins. I’m great out of the starting gate. I follow the diet plan to the letter, making sure I have all the right foods (and non-foods) to prove successful. Then something happens. A celebration. A bad day. A *fuck this I don’t care anymore* moment. This last one is my current state of mind.
Then I start binging again. And I lie awake at night and tell myself I’m weak, hideous, unworthy of love.
And the worst part?
I believe me.
Most days I’m happy. I can push away my thoughts of inadequacy and practice something I’ve become really good at. Avoiding full length mirrors.
God this makes me so mad! Why can’t I just be happy with the way I look?! Or better yet, why can’t I stop eating? I’m not even hungry most of the time I eat. It’s just that I have such a love affair with food it’s insane. I’m not even picky about it either. Gas station food tastes just as good as a gourmet meal.
So that’s it.
That’s my struggle.
And I know some of you won’t understand it, but I’m hoping that if you do then you’ll take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
Please tell me I’m not either.
Shauna Glenn lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her four kids. She has a vast knowledge of things that a regular person might find completely useless and a waste of time. Her passion is designer handbags and Mexican food, and her favorite alcohol treat is a tall glass of Pinot Grigio. You can read more from Shauna on her blog.