Haven’t posted in a hot minute because I’ve been struggling a bit in this transition to Denver (love the city, love my life here – but just having some control issues that OF COURSE manifest into weight loss) and I’m working through them with daily OA meetings. (Post to come on OA soon.)
However, I’m coming out of the woodwork because I am all sorts of emoji red face P.O’ed
Everything in that picture above is what I loathe about the portrayal of eating disorders.
Yesterday, I woke up and these article headlines about me ran on the UK Daily Mail, Sun, and Mirror.
YEP GUYS -there I am – the two-headed eating disorder freak show splattered across UK media.
My agenda every day is to represent recovery in a way that relates to ALL yet time and time again the world has a tendency to portray people with eating disorders as though we are some fictitious character straight outta American Horror Story.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful every single day for the opportunity to write about this shiz. It’s kept me connected with the community as well as find an outlet of accountability, but the problem with this kind of portrayal is that it sends the message to people that you have to be “that” sick to really have an eating disorder.
It discourages people from voicing their struggle because they look at horror headlines like that and think to themselves “Oh, well I’m not vomm’ing blood into a toilet – I guess I’m not really that bad.”
The truth is, am I proud of those articles content? Yes. The journalist was respectful and asked real, human questions about my recovery and ED experience. She does not choose headlines, and I have nothing but kind words to say about our interview process.
However, when I read these headlines, I absolutely bloody cringe. Not only because it’s grossly and salaciously manifesting as cheap click bait, but because the headlines heighten my experience with body dysmorphia and eating disorders in a glorified one-of-a-kind manner.
Did I feel and do all those things? Yes. I did have trouble sitting on a subway. I passed people on the SIDEWALK (not street) and had moments that I panicked. “WHAT IF I RUN INTO THEM WITH MY THIGHS.”
I was very sick. I’d never deny that and I’ve got a whole helluva lot of war stories- we all do in recovery, as I’m learning through my resurgence of OA meetings.
Half of recovery is letting those “war stories” go and moving forward.
I just want to reiterate today that I was still a real person back when I was sick. I went to work like anyone else (albeit not fully present), and I functioned as best as i could. At the end of the day my experience is really no more extreme than anyone else out there struggling with BDD and ED.
PLEASE REMEMBER — You don’t have to have “bloody vomit” and “fear of walking down the street” to quality for an ED or BDD, just as you don’t need to have a salacious bikini pic to qualify as “recovered.”
I hurt myself a lot over the years, and I am still learning what it means to be healthy of mind. However, I want to continue to reiterate that you don’t have to look, act, or be any certain way to suffer from ED.
Ignore those headlines – not everyone’s experience with mental illness has these glorified extremes that they imply.
If you are sick, you know. You know because your life is passing – one day after the other- and you’re missing it, and it’s sad.
Could not be more appreciative of all the support as this article runs. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a mixed bag of feelings to look down and see your name associated with the word “suicide.” To clarify: it’d be sensationalizing my eating disorder to state that I ever tried to end my life, but there were plenty of times that I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “this will be how I die. I’ll never get past it.”
Glad to be an example of recovery; what it is, what it entails, and all the beautiful ups and downs. Feeling so much gratitude and love as I leave this big apple city.
And of course, thank you to my friend Chase Williams for his sexy cameo. Don’t be surprised if the ladies of Cosmo come knockin’ my friend
Eh okay- I kinda lied. I’m not THATterrified of public speaking… but I am a lot better at expressing myself via the written word in my humble opinion.
Couldn’t help but see the flyer today and giggle to myself. Here I am going to be speaking beside Dietitians, Doctors, and Entrepreneurs and all I got is “I Haven’t Shaved in Six Weeks.”
LOL- just makes me realize I’m luckier than I comprehend sometimes to have ANY opportunities to speak on eating disorders and recovery.
At the end of the day, I’m just another girl with an ED story to share.There are plenty of people like me out there who could probably do 10x the job I’m doing when talking about recovery and struggle, so it’s a nice reminder to look at that flyer and remember that 2 years ago I was also just another girl who wasn’t allowed to shave her legs for 6 weeks.
Thankful for everything in my life- every chance to talk about it, because it’s truly what keeps me in recovery (hence, the panel discussion topic!)
In the interview, Dunham discusses her surprising new fondness for running (and more established love for Tracy Anderson), what she likes about her body, and the ways exercise has improved her life, like helping her deal with anxiety.
Here are five of her brilliant observations from the interview:
1. “It [running] was the last thing I wanted to do. When it became something that actually gave me pleasure, I was shocked. Also, endorphins are real. You run with someone for an hour, you feel pretty good. Running for an hour does not make you feel worse.”
2. “When I go through weeks of not exercising, it’s easy to convince myself I don’t need to go to the gym today. I have to remind myself that when you exercise, there is a natural calm that comes from knowing that you did something with your body that day. Actually going and working out makes everything else easier and better.”
3. “As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that it doesn’t really matter if I’m good at it, it just matters that I try. My own effort, my own willingness, are becoming what’s appealing to me.”
4. “When we do exercise, when we really own and understand our bodies and claim our physicality, our superficial quibbles with our bodies lessen because we realize what our bodies can do for us. My relationship to eating, my relationship to critiquing my own shape, all of that has changed since I’ve started viewing my body much more as a tool to do my work. That’s been huge for me.”
5. “I have been 30 pounds heavier and I’ve been 30 pounds lighter, and it has never had an effect on my ability to find love or connect with people. What had an effect on my ability to find love or connect with people was never my thighs, it was how I felt about myself and the love that I was giving to myself.”
My Body’s Not “Perfect,” But Here’s Why I’m Wearing A Bikini
Let’s talk about that “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.” Like so many others, I have struggled for more than eight years to wear a swimsuit comfortably.For the better half of my adolescence and early 20s, I was consumed by eating disorders and body dysmorphia. After seeking residential treatment in 2013, I am now recovering remarkably well. Yet, this summer I found myself thinking I’m not toned enough to wear a swimsuit.
While I’ve made great strides in learning how to communicate and assert my negative emotions, body image continues to take work.
In the past, I would never — repeat NEVER — wear a bikini and walk around in public. All summer, I told myself I was going to break this milestone — slowly. Setting realistic goals for recovery has been a big part of keeping me on the “straight and narrow,” and I knew that allowing myself to finally “be free” and wear a bikini in public was going to help me move forward.
While I enjoy a good run, I don’t lift weights consistently. While I love a good kale salad, I also enjoy a slice of red velvet cake. I’m human, and after two years in recovery, I’m finally learning it’s okay to be just that.
I did what I set out to do recently and it wasn’t easy (and it didn’t last long) but it was incredibly liberating. That being said, here are the eight stages of wearing a swimsuit even though you aren’t perfect:
1. Invest in the perfect suit.
Don’t settle. Choose the swimsuit that makes you feel like a trendsetter. The one that will allow you to strut around with Marilyn Monroe glam. One-piece, tankini, bikini — whichever will invoke that little feeling inside that says, ‘’This is me.”
2. Ask someone you trust for a little support.
Someone who will smile with you and understand that this experience is a vulnerable one for anyone recovering from disordered eating and body-image dysmorphia. Go with a person who makes you feel human and who can help you laugh at the anxiety a swimsuit can cause in people.
3. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish from this experience.
Do you want to swim in the ocean? Lay on a float in the pool? Water ski behind a boat on a lake? You don’t have to wear a swimsuit to do these things, but for so many years you probably let your anxiety take away from the experience of going to the beach, a pool party, or a lake event. Embrace who you are today and what you’re going to do in your new swimsuit.
4. Get there and commit.
You’re at the beach now. You’ve committed, but you’re unsteady. You’re not ready. You’re hanging out for a while — towel around your waist, cover-up button-down hanging off your shoulders.
You’re thinking: Are they looking at me? Are they wondering why I’m not getting in the water? I should, but I can’t. They’ll stare. They’ll see cellulite. My stomach isn’t as flat as they might think it is. Does my butt jiggle more than I can see in the mirror?
You understand today that you’re putting yourself out there in order to stop living under the blanket of fear of your own body.
5. Focus on feeling confident in your bathing suit.
You know what you came to do. You’re taking the plunge, but it doesn’t mean it’s not scary. You’re standing there with your confidante as he or she encourages you to remember what is it you want from this. The sense of vulnerability hasn’t left you.
6. Push through the panic.
You drop your towel and think there’s no going back now. Your legs are exposed. You can’t remember the last time you let the world see this much of your body.
7. Accept the vulnerable feeling.
You’ve wanted this. You’re almost there. All summer long you’ve worn athletic shorts over your swimsuit bottom so that you’re skimming the line of baring it all. You’re recovering, and recovering means pushing. You remind yourself you want to swim in that ocean today. You’ve watched people do this for so many years — the ease with which they wade in completely untethered to the social anxiety of what their body looks like.
8. Bare it and own it.
You’re standing there and you’re exposed. You notice that no one is stopping and staring at you — the world keeps moving. No one is shielding their eyes from your stretch marks. Now the entire world can see your skin as it was fashioned to be.
Be proud and embrace yourself for getting outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to hide your skin from anyone.
Recently, I had an article run about wearing a bikini freely for the first time in 8 years. I wrote about the process of it and tips for someone if they wish to wear a swimsuit but are suffering with the same body image dysmorphia that continue to plague my daily existence- 2 years in recovery from an eating disorder.
People, I’ve found, are often not honest enough about this process- that there’s this long, snaking route in recovery in which you have to learn to respect your body after you’ve done heinous things to it. The years of fighting and learning to accept this body- the time you’ve spent growing weary of your own self-hatred.
Anyway, this article ran with my body on display. It’s liberating. Now that my half naked bikini bod is out there on the web, it allows me to stop hiding behind the self-absorbed “fear” of what people *might* think about my shape and figure.
It’s been mostly well-received with the audience- however, there’s a notable amount of “thin-shaming” comments and it continues to plague me. Why? Shouldn’t I be relieved that people aren’t saying cruel remarks about my body? The truth is I am to some extent. But it’s incredibly shorthanded and discouraging to read people’s notion of what “can” and “cannot be” body image struggle.
One commenter wrote “How disappointing. This girl is skinny,” and a slew of comments she’d wished to see in a ‘real’ bikini woman instead of me. Another commenter wrote that I was “seeking attention,” and another said “This is gross. She’s thin.”
Fat-shaming is not acceptable, but I must reiterate tonight that neither is Thin-shame. It is NOT acceptable as women to put “standards” on eating disorders. It is hypocritical and culturally fucked up- and yet on it happens everywhere.
I spent 8 years on the side-lines of my life. 8 years sitting on boats sweating through my clothes with my legs sticking to leather seats because I was too anxious to live. These comments are firstly shallow, but also strive to discredit my 8-year struggle in and out of treatment as though it isn’t a “valid” enough experience with eating disorders.
Do women realize the hypocrisy of their words when they do this? That when a commenter writes “but this girl is thin, show me a real woman” what she really is saying is that larger people should, in fact, be the ones to worry about wearing their bare skin on a beach. It perplexes me and it is a slight on all bodies.
Is it easier to be “thin-shamed”? Sure. Culturally, it is. But it’s unacceptable that people feel like it’s okay to comment freely about a persons weight in ANY circumstance. I didn’t write that article for people to comment on my weight (though of course I knew it’d happen), I didn’t write this article for reassurance. Yes, my naked-ish body is out there- but nobody reading that article knows the crevices of it like I do. None of them can see the stretch marks I continue to manage, the acne scars around my chin, or the skin I wish I could heal from sun damage.
I wrote that article for the millions of women/men who are also sitting on the sidelines of their own existence. For the people that hide behind towels and miss out on their lives just as I have missed out on mine. I am biologically thinner, yes, but that does not make me tone. I am a “real woman” too with the same body insecurity as anyone else, and I write honestly and openly in order to weave others together through the same experiences- not to have other women turn on each other and discredit that experience- and I will continue to take the podium for ALL women- of ALL types- who have suffered with eating disorders and the struggle to recover from them.
Although NEDA 2015 is technically “over” for the year, I think it’s important to keep the awareness alive and fruitful in any way that I can so I wanted to go ahead and include a post for two of the recent radio interviews I did for the eating disorder awareness week!
Both interviews were fantastic. Never thought there would be a day in my life that I’d be talking with Marilu Henner, but she was amazing- as was Lee Callahan. Both gave great, insightful interviews and were interested in furthering awareness on the cycle of eating disorders and just how many people they affect on a daily basis.
Anywho, if you’d like to hear them- you can find the interviews below:
Last weekend I had the opportunity to interview alongside the founder of the Realize Your Beauty nonprofit on the Tanya Mercado radio show, Raise Your Glass. Thinking I had this ED talk on lockdown (it’s pretty much all I’ve done this past week in accordance with NEDA’s 2015 awareness week) I naturally tried to take center stage with my story until, oh wait, I realized I’m not the most original thing going on in eating disorder awareness world. (It was painful, yes, but I survived)
Thank God I did ’cause the women at Realize Your Beauty and Endangered Bodies are working together to raise awareness to the bullshit that goes on in our 2015 jargon.
While we’ll never be able to rid the ”pro-anorexia” Instagram or Facebook accounts, we can raise awareness to the way we talk in our daily conversations.
How often do we hear “I feel fat.”
“I. FEEL. FAT.” From our friends, our partners, our bosses even- this term is an epidemic phenom in our culture.
It’s become accepted to describe our worth- our feelings- in terms of how we look that we don’t even think about it on a day-to-day basis.
It’s like when I was a kid growing up and using the term “you’re gay” when I was mad at someone.
Did I know what gay meant? No. Not really. But rarely was I corrected from using it.
It became such a household “term” down South that no one bothered to remember you’re degrading a group of people whom you can’t possibly categorize by one term. Whom you’re stripping the character of.
I feel as though for years I dumbed down my language instead of examining what it was I was actually trying to say. I used what was easy and accepted instead of actually thinking about what my words meant. Or what it was I was even trying to convey.
This is the new “gay” to me.
“I feel fat.”
You don’t feel fat. And if you do- then let me know what it’s like to “feel fat” sift through your body, cause hell- I betcha I’ve thought I felt that too.
What are we really trying to say when we say “I feel fat”? For me, it was an endless vacuum of lack-of-self-worth and anxiety.
For 8 years, I said I “felt fat” when really all I felt was terribly unworthy. Terribly anxious.
And scared because my self-worth was based solely on how other people thought of me.
In rehab, the “f” word was banned from conversation. And while 1 year later, I’ve still been known to mutter it in times of stress or anxiety- I’m a helluva lot more cautious, and a lot more in tune with my emotions because I’ve had the ability and opportunity to really evaluate what “feeling fat” actually translates for me.
Let’s change the way we speak. Let’s continue thinking about our words. In 2015, we are a society that craves being “PC,” that craves being “in touch with oneself,” so there’s no earthly reason why Facebook should have an emoji that supports the idea of “feeling fat” on a public status.