I will begin this by admitting to having one form of an eating disorder or another for as long as I can remember. To further complicate my body image concerns: just over seven months ago, I was in a car accident that caused severe head & facial trauma.
I became a self-proclaimed feminist at sixteen, after having been exposed to Sylvia Plath, Bikini Kill, & Sleater-Kinney. “Finding” feminism was a turning point in my relationship with my body. So many conflicts arose, with bulimia nervosa yanking me one direction & The Beauty Myth pulling me another. I eventually found myself enamored with self-help, support groups, & group therapy.
As a Feminist Studies student in a liberal forest-ocean-town, I have been exposed to so many positive books & theories & events & people that promote self-love, self-care, courage, bravery, & overall “radical” thought. I learned very quickly that the personal is political, that my relationship with my body is layered, perplexing, & intersectional (by now, I could write a 600 page memoir on the subject, but I digress).
However, it wasn’t until, at 22 years old, on August 25th 2010, when my face was pounded into an incomprehensible pulp, that I truly learned to love what I had once (almost, at times) abhorred.
I was hospitalized for three weeks. I crushed my cheekbones, nose, & left eyesocket (my cheekbones & eyesocket are now made of titanium). I lost my left eye. I had a brain bleed. The doctors shaved a third of my head-hair to drill a hole into my skull for pressure relief. I was on more medications than I can accurately recall - I have PTSD, mostly due to the fact that I was on so many sedation drugs (dilaudid, mostly) that I couldn’t accurately put together the pieces of what had happened to me. I was set to begin my senior year of college in the fall of 2010, but have been forced to take the year off for numerous surgeries. I cannot work because of the abundance of doctor’s appointments, operations, & my malfunctioning tear ducts (I’m always seemingly crying - my tears do not adequately drain down the back of my throat like everyone else’s). I was forced to move back home with my parents - while the majority of my closest friends are graduating from our university on June 11th.
While I have sometimes found myself defeated - a recovering bulimic with a broken face, no job, living with her parents in her small-desert-hometown - I often recall Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. In this memoir, Didion recalls the year following her husband’s death & the nightmarish caliber of her daughter’s illness - & the most cathartic point of the story is the fact that she made it through.
I could have lost my life. Everything could have been so much worse. Instead of ruminating about my thighs, my belly, my hips, my arms, my blemished skin, my too-big-nipples, my hairiness, my scarred wide nose, my left non-eye, my chipped tooth, or my tracheotomy scar - instead of indulging in a disorder that only harbors detriment - I am determined to love this body. I am going to love this body at any size, any weight, any physical “abnormality”. I like my hairy armpits. I like my round rump. I AM AWESOME. There are SO MANY issues that are TOO IMPORTANT for me, or anyone, to waste time scrutinizing themselves.
I love my old face, & I’ll love my new face just the same. Why? Because, if I have learned anything through my feminist education, it is that SELF-LOVE IS REVOLUTIONARY. As you begin to adopt this decree, your whole world slowly feels renewed.
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Wow wow wow, I have so much respect for her because God only knows what she has been through. I am vain and often find myself criticizing each and every aspect of my body instead of being grateful for all the things it does for me. I really do believe and find her to be brave and phenomenal. I am on a journey to find love, acceptance and peace and I am grateful for my big nose, no eyebrow having face. I may not really like certain things about my body but honestly it is what it is and I believe that I wasn’t meant to have any other face or body. So I am proud and happy to look the way I do! =D Love yourself ladies! You only get one life and one face stop bitching for a moment and appreciate it!
What a gorgeous young woman… in mind, body & spirit ♥
I’m 20 now. I was 16 in that photo. 4 years of anorexia has torn me to pieces. I’ve lost so much. In that picture I seem a happy, healthy, school girl. I even think I look pretty.
I wish I’d had hindsight before embarking down this terrible road…Anorexia took my life from me…
….Aren’t eating disorders about control?
I’ve lost count of the times people have said this to me, in the most well intentioned, if smugly certain, tone of voice. They’re not asking the question but telling me what they believe, such as:
- You have to be a control freak to have an ED
- You have to have self-control to have an ED
- If you have an ED you’ll try to control everyone around you
Sometimes what they believe dovetails with what they think they’ve observed in their own families or friends. Sometimes it’s based on tabloid stories of anorexic or bulimic celebrities.
Regardless, the remark always makes my blood boil.
Of course eating disorders involve control,
but the force that’s in control is the disorder, not the individual.
It’s like saying diabetes, or cancer, or tuberculosis is all about control.
The illness controls your life, not the other way around.
But that’s never what the uninitiated mean when they say EDs are “all about control.”
What makes EDs so insidious is that they turn the sufferer into a slave puppet, acting out the pathology of the illness in ways that make it appear as if the puppet is choosing to exert hyper control over every morsel of food, every second of exercise, every calorie, every drop, every ounce in her universe.
Worse, they convince the sufferer–at least initially–that she is in control. And she seizes on that illusion because, in truth, she feels utterly powerless, lost, even paralyzed.
Consider the people most likely to develop EDs:
The genetic vulnerability for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating often coincides with a genetic tendency toward anxiety disorders. Victims of trauma–especially childhood trauma–frequently develop EDs. And EDs often accompany other serious psychological illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Yet no one ever says that these conditions are “about control.”
In fact, when a person is severely depressed or suffering a panic attack or post-traumatic stress disorder, personal control is profoundly absent.
So how can a person who has no control be controlling?
This is the paradox that defines eating disorders.
The individual suffering from an eating disorder is as fragile and vulnerable as the little man pretending to be the Wizard of Oz–and just as fearful of being exposed.
So, like the Wizard, she hides behind her controlling behavior.
- She encourages others to think that she excels at control.
She lies to herself that her ED is a sign of great inner discipline and willpower.
- Anything to avoid being revealed as the mute, frightened, uncertain and needy human being she knows herself to be.
Anything to avoid being outed as an ordinary mortal with hungers, weaknesses and flaws; one of ED’s lies is that these normal vulnerabilities are somehow shameful.
In truth, eating disorders aren’t about control any more than they are about eating.
- What they are about is the flailing of isolated souls undone by feelings of helplessness, longing, rage and terror.
Self-discipline is a masquerade as impressive and misleading
as the Wizard’s pretense of control over Oz.
Unfortunately, it takes more than the clicking of ruby slippers for people in the throes of Eating Disorders to get back home to their true selves.
But the first step for them and those who love them, is to understand that control is neither the problem nor the solution.
It is a door that must be opened so the person hiding inside can at last emerge,
announce herself and come fully into her own unruly life.
-Excerpted from Eating Disorders Blog: Life After Recovery.
This is just… disgusting beyond words. To all my beauties struggling with eating disorders out there, please, please, please be careful. Do whatever you can to ensure this doesn’t ever happen to you.
Ronny Bi, originally from China, now living in Canada, says she was held captive and forced into anorexia pornography after being tricked by someone she had been in contact with online. “He forced me to pose for photos both in revealing clothing and nude, it was sickening. I was too weak to fight back because of how thin I was. I was completely powerless.” Bi, who was held captive with another person with an eating disorder, was starved by her captor in order to make her as emaciated and marketable as possible.
“Sadly, I was not the only woman he did this to,” she says. “Eventually, both of us managed to escape but my friend died shortly afterwards from heart failure due to her anorexia. It was shortly after this that I found out he had posted all of the photos he took of us online and they spread to all the pro-ana and anorexia pornography websites like wildfire.”
Triggers: Self harm, eating disorder, depression
This is me, Kait.
I was 17 when I took this picture on the left and uploaded it as my profile picture on facebook. I received a lot of comments on my new haircut, or how pretty/ fit I look. What no one knew, not even my parents or closest friends, was that I was hurting. I have always had some self esteem issue with underlying depression. I cut myself for the first time when I was 12, before I even knew what cutting was. I will never be sure what gave me the idea to do it, but I remember thinking about how disappointed in myself I was for just being me. I was awkward, bullied in school, and had recently started to feel attracted to girls… which was the last thing I needed to add to my label as a ‘freak’. Bullied throughout middle school, by the time I got to high school I had a much tougher skin. I went to an all girls school, was a member of countless clubs, and always had a boyfriend. Always. In junior year things changed when I started to date my first girlfriend. Though I was more comfortable in who I was, she had a lot of psychological issues that began to play off mine in a negative way. I went back to cutting, stopped eating, and became completely emotionless. Luckily, my parents and some of the faculty at my school caught on that something was seriously wrong and I was put into serious counseling, cut complete ties with my then girlfriend, and tried to start life over. It took a while, and I had a lot of resentment towards my parents… but with time, things healed.
I began to take better care of myself because I wanted to. I no longer cut and am a healthy weight. Every once in a while I will find myself at a low point (as I will for the rest of my life) but I now have the inner strength to fight for my own right to happiness.
For the longest time, I have looked in the mirror and have seen a monster.
Now, I can see only the truth of what I am… which is beautiful.
This is a goal you ALL can achieve!
Every person who has overcome such difficulties as eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, etc. serves as proof that if you are struggling, you can and will overcome. You will survive. We all want you to get better. And we know you have the strength within you to do so ♥
Men Get Eating Disorders Too is a charitable organisation that seeks to raise awareness of eating disorders in men so men are able to get the support they need. Our website provides essential information on eating disorders that is specific to unique needs of men including definitions of what they are and the associated symptoms, treatments and support services available. There are also personal stories and a forum so male users can connect with other men with eating disorders to share their experiences and offer peer support.