About a week ago, on Facebook, I shared a video of a young woman making a very powerful statement about eating disorders, self-esteem and body image. I commented:
“This. This is the reason I wear a bikini at 45.
I am still working on it. Just yesterday, I started out in a pair of shorter shorts, then decided I didn’t like the way my thighs looked, so I changed. I weigh 102lbs. My thighs look tiny, no matter what I wear, but I still don’t love the way they’re shaped. I’m working on it.
Even now, all these years post-eating-disorder, I still struggle to see my body the way it really is. I still struggle to focus on being healthy and fit, rather than fitting into some arbitrary, media-created mold of what an “ideal” body looks like. I still struggle with the idea that my body is perfect, and beautiful, exactly as it is.
There is a movement now toward making sure girls know that there is so much more to them than their looks. That is wonderful, and important; but I think it is important, too, to make sure all people are told regularly that they are gorgeous. If I tell you that, please know that I am not just saying it to be nice, or to make you feel good. I’m saying it because it’s true. I think it’s important that you know; so I tell you, in case no one else does.
I know that’s a lot of information to throw up on a wall on Facebook, but I think it needs to be said. I think the best thing we can do to fight eating disorders is to keep talking about our experience. To be open, and honest, and brave. It is important for people who are still struggling with their own body image to know that they are not alone, that they are beautiful, and perfect, and that they will be okay. Those of us who have survived are proof. This girl, and the people who stopped to read her sign and draw hearts are proof.”
Since then, I have been thinking about one line I typed there. It is, “Just yesterday, I started out in a pair of shorter shorts, then decided I didn’t like the way my thighs looked, so I changed.”
Over the weekend, I started weeding through my clothes. If my count is correct, I own about 9 pairs of shorts. I thought about giving them away, but then, I had a better idea. What if, instead of giving away all of my shorts because i still don’t like the way my thighs look in them, I kept them? What if I posted a picture of myself, wearing shorts, every day for a week? What if, since I have 9 pairs, I posted a picture every day for 9 days? What if I challenged others to do the same ~ or to post of picture of themselves in whatever is that piece of clothing they avoid, because they don’t feel like some part of their body looks “good enough” to be seen in it (swimsuit, tank top, crop top, etc.)? What if we all agreed to tell each other how great we look? Wouldn’t that be the right kind of revolution to stage?
So, here I am, on Day 1: No makeup, my hair still in a “growing out” phase, and, IMO, in need of a dye job, in my shorts. These are among the shortest ones I own. They are knit exercise shorts ~ short and snug. I’m wearing fuzzy socks, and my top probably doesn’t really go with my shorts. Before she took the picture, Justice asked if I wanted her to get my feet, because, you know, i’m wearing fuzzy socks. Well, I am almost always wearing fuzzy socks, thanks to Raynaud’s (my feet are cold!) and CRPS (my left foot hurts!), so I figured we might as well show me as I really am. So, here I am World, thighs and all.
For the record, I know my thighs are fine. Cognitively, logically, I know. But then, there’s the demon that will forever live in my brain, trying to tell me I’m not good enough. Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not perfect. Because that’s how my eating disorder works. And no, I don;t still HAVE an eating disorder ~ that is, I am not engaging in those destructive behaviors that fall into the eating disorder category ~ but, as far as I can tell, it works (for me, anyway) like an addiction. It’s always there, lurking just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head. So, when I hear that little voice telling me my thighs don’t look good enough for me to wear shorts, I have to yell back at it, “Oh, shut up! My thighs are fine!” It’s when I hear myself say those things out loud ~ when I utter them in front of my daughters, and other young people in my life ~ that I know I need to take a step back and give myself some perspective.
Screw you, eating disorder. Screw you, self-esteem issues. Screw you, negative body image. My thighs look great.