It is hard for me to admit this. It feels so ugly to say. The words clog the back of my throat as if I have swallowed a moth. Flapping its wings against my uvula and beating a rhythm against my teeth. The sentences feel heavy on my tongue. I want to say it but it’s so hard to open my mouth sometimes.
I still worry a lot about gaining weight. I still worry a lot about being thin. I still worry a lot about what I eat, don’t eat, should eat, shouldn’t eat, calories, macros, carbs, fats. I still worry a lot about how I measure up next to other women (I still worry a lot about how I measure up to my old self)
Now this is by no means abnormal for anyone to say in this day and age of body obsession. Nor is it unusual for any woman in a first world country to say when we are continually bombarded with images of thinspiration, fitspriration, and countless pinterest photos of the ideal body. We live in a society where more women hate how they look than those who take comfort or joy in their appearance. Hating ourselves is the norm, a language we all understand.
Yesterday I weighed myself on a scale at someone else’s house.
I saw the number and felt so much disgust for myself. My head began screaming its usual insults “YOU FAT COW. YOU WEAK FAILURE. YOU WORTHLESS PIG” I have rules and I must abide them. I broke them. And now I am weak.
Its a song and dance that never ends. It feels familiar which is why I still participate from time to time. Years go by and I still want some kind of control. I still have that need to be less in order to accept myself more. Math that makes no sense.
Today I saw a severely anorexic woman at Whole Foods.
I didn’t really want to go grocery shopping. I didn’t really feel well today and I didn’t really want to be around a lot of food. I didn’t want to want so many delicious things and then tell myself NO NO YOU CANNOT BECAUSE YOU ARE AT AN UNACCEPTABLE WEIGHT. I didn’t want that familiar pull of desire and the brutal YOU CANNOT that always follows. But food means to love to my husband and grocery shopping is how we used to begin our week long ago before I got sick. Something we want to begin to do together in this new life we are molding.
She was by the Vega Protein Powder display. Her size 00 shorts belted tightly but still so baggy. Knees bigger than her thighs. Her entire body was a mixture of bones, sinuous tendons, and lanugo to keep her warm.
I couldn’t stop glancing at her.
There was once a time where I would’ve been terribly jealous of her. She obviously so much more driven than I to become so thin, to wittle herself down to so little fat and so little flesh. She would’ve been the star at any eating disorder group or inpaitent clinic. She couldn’t have been more than 70 lbs at 5’5″ or 5’6″. When I finally found the ability to glance at her face, she looked far older than she probably was. This emaciation has aged her beyond her years. Her eyes looked kind of wild, like a raccoon caught digging through your trash at 1 am. Maybe she saw me watching. Maybe she didn’t.
There was once a time where I would’ve reached out to her. To say “Hey I have been there, here’s my email if you need to talk”. I learned my lesson the hard way, approaching a similar shrinking girl in my biology class in college. She was immediately angry at my intrusion and defensive at my assumption that she was anorexic. I felt awful afterwards, remembering my own lashings out at people who just meant “to help”. I have never again approached anyone who is obviously struggling with anorexia.
It felt almost wrong to look at this woman in the store. Vulgar even. To see her obvious self-hatred so rawly displayed for all of us to see. We each as humans are so uncomfortable with ourselves yet her discomfort shined like a neon sign over by the vitamin aisle.
(I feel that way sometimes with my own physical issues so on display. People look at me and know something is wrong even if they don’t know what)
She glanced down at me in my chair as she walked by. The evil part of my head wondered “Did she see my thighs? Does she think ‘Im fat too? Of course she does, you are fat!” Of course she may have looked for many reasons. I have blue hair/I have the side of my head shaved/ I am in a wheelchair/ I was sitting by the homeopathic supplements. Maybe she wanted to price check Tumeric…
I shook my head after I thought this. It feels so insane to worry about what I weigh when there’s far more concerning things at hand like walking normally again, driving, working, jumping, laughing. That’s what always drives me insane. That this is what I worry over and cry about.
That I think I look fat because I am not as skinny as I was last summer. Last summer when I rarely ate because of the unending chronic nausea with no anti-emetic medication giving me any relief. Last summer when my own size 0s started to fall off of me.
It seems so ridiculous to feel big because I am a size larger than that. It seems so ridiculous to be embarrassed to say that I gained weight. It seems so ridiculous that I am anxious that people have noticed that I am not as thin as I have been.
The whole thing just feels ridiculous and tiring.
I am tired for me and I am tired for her, this nameless woman in a store filled with food that she won’t eat or that she will eat and then find a way to purge. It is tiresome to carry this nagging voice inside me. It feels old and exhausting that this is what constantly trips me up, that this is my cross to bear, my one true vice. I am 32 now and I was 12 when this started. 20 full years of fat thighs, shame, disgust, and the want to be smaller.
So there it is. That moth is gone from my throat and flying wild somewhere else.
And I am here laying in bed, staring at this screen while trying to ignore my naked thighs.