Every little girl has a dream. Usually that dream involved a white stead and a knight in shining armour. For some of us we are like that our white knight comes in the shape of our Dad’s. There is no better feeling than being tossed up in your Dad’s arms to receive the biggest of hugs. The memories that we have from when we are younger help shape who we are destined to become. We can’t help what happens to us in puberty. The lumps, the bumps, the hair. We hope that when it all starts to happen we turn into some sort of bombshell like Jessica Rabbit but for most of us we just look like a sack of potatoes with legs.
I will never forget the first time I started to question my appearance. We were playing hide and seek outside as we usually did in the summer months. I was 13 and was developing my first crush on a boy. Of course there were pairs. For every girl there was a boy. It wasn’t the cray sex fuelled fiasco’s we here about these days. It was the 90’s. Pretty much we all looked like boys. I was so entranced with Nirvana that I was obsessed with jeans and flannel shirts. Throw on a pair of Doc Marten’s and I was good to go. This time in question though the boy I liked threw me over his shoulders to outrun whoever was trying to find us. As he did so he exclaimed how heavy I was then went on to ask how much I weighed. Back then I was around 130 pounds and I remember feeling fat. Well I didn’t feel fat until it was brought to my attention. I guess I should have been more aware that maybe a 16 year old boy didn’t have the muscles to lift that much but all I heard was you are too fat to have a boyfriend. I vowed right then and there not to eat until I was skinny.
Starving myself was surprisingly easy. The hunger pains stopped after about 3 days. I remember feeling so accomplished that food no longer entered my mind as much as it did. I could easily watch anybody eat and it didn’t bother me. My parents were busy with work so it is not like they noticed either. I was en route to being skinny and having a boyfriend. At least that is where my mindset was. Be skinny and boys would like you. Three weeks into my anti food campaign and it was time to go back to school shopping. My Dad liked to take us to Spokane (when the dollar was good) as there wasn’t much selection in our small town plus it gave us a little holiday.
Being on the road my Dad didn’t notice that I wasn’t eating so that day was easy. When we got to the mall we sat down for pancakes to get fueled up for shopping. I even remember my sister ordering the smiley face pancake. I told my Dad I wasn’t hungry so he went ahead and ordered me the same thing as my sister. All I had was water. I played with my food a bit though because I was noticing that he was noticing that I was trying to lose weight. I sluffed it off with a I am just not feeling well scenario. After hours of shopping we stopped at my favourite place to eat. THE FOOD COURT!!!! Again when my Dad told me to get whatever I wanted I told him there was nothing there that I wanted. Which was a lie!!! I can always find comfort in Taco Time, Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonald’s. I was determined though to start the new school year skinnier and hopefully more attractive.
There was only so much I could get away with before my Dad noticed the problem of me not eating. He told me point blank if I wanted any clothes for school that he needed to see me eat. We went to Albertson’s and bought a roast chicken with all the sides, ripple chips with ranch dip, twizzlers and a candy bar. You may wonder how it is I can remember those specific details almost 3 decades later. You never forget the taste of salty chips and the most decadent ranch dip ever. At least in my 13 year old stomach after 3 weeks and 1 day of only just water there was no stopping the deliciousness once it started. For some girls that is when a cycle of eating disorders starts. For me it became clear the absurdity of what I was doing. Talking to my Dad once my stomach was full made that abundantly clear. When you begin to starve yourself you also starve your mind and that is when the most toxicity starts.
We all want to feel attractive to somebody. Especially when we get older. We define our existence by the partner we keep. Sometimes for some that is all we become. It is not because we want to be something more we just have no idea how to get there. My own mental health was determined by who I saw in the mirror. It was a hard game to play. Having no self esteem really put me in a bad place. Self confidence means everything when you are moving through day to day. Without it you can believe anything. Our reality is nobody truly does know us for the person we are inside. We rarely feel secure enough in letting her shine. In time when we start to define ourselves us the single entity that we are it becomes easier. It’s easier to believe in our own self worth. We don’t need the constant reassurance of other’s because we already know what is true. My weight I only question if bad nutrition is to blame. I know that being healthy is up to me. Being healthy from all angles. Not just the physical reflection that I see but the one inside me that needs to be heard. What other’s think of us is not up to us, how we think about ourselves is. Why be your own worst enemy when you can become your own best friend?