The number of people who suffer from an eating disorder is on the rise. As a society we still have a close minded view of beauty and body standards (I’ll take a moment to applaud all the people who are actively trying to change this). Social media plays a huge role in how we see ourselves and how we see others, we’ve all heard this before. The important thing to remember as we scroll through Facebook and lurk through Instagram is that those people you’re creeping aren’t perfect. Social media allows people to show themselves without flaws, they pick the best angles or the highlights of their life. Like we get it Sarah, your boyfriend loves to spoil you with gifts and love notes, but have you ever thought that maybe “Sarah’s” boyfriend is actually a dick and he buys her all those gifts as apologies? No one is perfect (except maybe Beyoncé), no relationship is perfect and for the love of Oprah, no one has the perfect body. The day you stop comparing yourself to others and start telling yourself that you’re a f***ing rock star is the day you start living a happier life.
I became self conscious about my body in Grade 3, I started developing before any other girl in my class and everyone else thought it was weird. The boys in my class were relentless, making fun of basically everything about me. I had no friends and I was constantly negative towards myself. I hated the things about myself that other people made fun of me for, before Grade 3 I was a fairly confident kid. My biggest regret is letting other people influence how I felt about myself, but how was I supposed to know that these kids were wrong? We don’t teach about body positivity and self love in school so how are kids supposed to know that they’re amazing and unique? Let’s teach kids to be positive about their bodies and stop being assholes to each other.
The summer before high school, I remember telling myself that I needed to lose 10 lbs before I started Grade 9. Looking back, it sounds messed up and distorted, my body was still going through changes (puberty can sometimes take forever) and that “pudge” I had was not a big deal. I allowed myself yet again to be influenced by others. I had peers and even family members that would make comments about my body and it sucked. It felt like every time I gained some small amount of confidence, someone was there to knock me down. I struggled through grade nine, I was counting calories, starving myself, binging, hating myself and throwing up. It was a vicious cycle, a cycle that was extremely hard to stop. In Grade 10 I could feel my self hatred getting worse. I masked my disordered eating by becoming a vegetarian. I figured it would be easier to say no to food without suspicion “oh that casserole has meat in it, guess I won’t eat it”. The rest of high school continued like this, because of my insane eating habits, my metabolism pretty much peaced out. By Grade 12, I had gained what felt like a lot of weight. Most people get excited about prom, I was dreading it. I refused to go prom dress shopping because I was afraid of not fitting into anything. I ended up ordering a dress online and thankfully it fit. During Prom, I felt uncomfortable and self conscious, I hate looking back at photos of that night because it reminds me of the self hatred I was feeling. I wish someone had told me that it’s ok to look different and that the weight on your body doesn’t define you.
In the past year, I’ve been really focusing on thinking more positively when it comes to my body. It may sound lame but reciting a positive mantra a few times a day really helps, it can be as simple as “I am worthy”. Before job interviews I usually sit in my car or stand in front of a mirror and tell myself that I’m Beyoncé, I swear, it’s the best confidence booster.
After following the Whole 30 and reading Melissa Hartwig’s book Food Freedom Forever, I have been able to identify and stop myself when I start slipping into those disordered eating habits. I have also stopped referring to foods as good and bad because why the heck should you be made to feel bad for eating something? If a child grows up thinking that a food is bad then whenever they eat it or see someone else eating it, they’re going to have some judgement towards that person or food.
In closing, let’s teach the future generations about self love and respect. Teach them that it’s ok to be different, it’s ok to be tall, short, big or small, happiness doesn’t come from a certain size, happiness comes from the life you live or maybe even a box of donuts.