‘Look at your legs’
‘Just don’t lose anymore weight, ok?’
I could hear the concern in her voice as she said it, and as a regular customer at the cafe I work at, I know she really meant no harm.
But her words stuck with me, as well as everyone else’s who had commented that I looked thinner recently.
I remember at the time, how I relished in the compliments I got, weighing myself and clinging to the number I saw on the scales as though my life depended on it.
And in a way, it sort of did.
It became an obsession, and on the days that I did binge, I completely crumbled and abandoned all sense of reality and responsibility.
Falling off the so-called wagon every few days with a binge, meant for me losing a bit of control that I had worked so hard to contain.
Even though I know logically it didn’t make sense, stepping out in the world I felt entirely too visible, as though my personal shame and all of the calories I had just consumed were there for everyone to see.
And so would begin my campaign to eradicate the binge, which usually begun the next day with a glass of warm water and lemon, followed by a vigorous exercise routine.
I know I have made progress throughout the years, but writing this and still feeling the effects of those comments that were said to me, I see there is more work to do.
And while I know my own responsibility as an individual, I also believe that collectively, there has to be some sensitivity when it comes to matters of image and weight.
I don’t judge anyone for not being aware, because how could they possibly know?
But I carry around the history of my ED everyday and hearing ‘I’m too thin,’ does nothing but remind me of how I felt when I was 20. That statement can make someone with pre-existing self-esteem or body image issues, feel as though they are never going to be quite good enough. Because despite the kinks in my life that need some ironing out, I do feel really good about myself, and my wish is for my level of happiness to be measured by the smile on my face, not for how my clothes fit.
It’s something I echo not only to the people out there making comments, but also to myself. Because contrary to those many years ago, my relationship food is so much healthier then what it used to be, and I’m proud of that. I will always be conscious on some level as to what I put in my body, but it no longer serves to enslave me.
So the next time a comment is made, I will not feel burdened by the responsibility of it.
I’m going to relinquish control, and instead try and feel that persons love and kindness, and give it back in a different way.
For anyone suffering with an ED, although we don’t always have control of what is said to us, how we react and ultimately define ourselves, is entirely in our hands.