I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how and why I have such a broken relationship with food and my body and it has forced me to really reflect on my life thus far; especially my teen years. Having to admit some truths to myself during this process has been both difficult and eye opening, but, I know it was an important step to take in order to carry on healing myself.
My first real taste of body shaming started when I began high school. I went to an all-girls private school and as can be expected with 650+ girls on one campus, there was some cattiness and bitchyness. The worst times were during PE in the summer where we did a lot of swimming in the school pool and I remember being mortified that I; a) had to get changed in front of these girls and, b) had to walk around in a swimsuit in front of them. Nothing was ever said directly to my face about the way my body looked but I knew what was being said behind my back, and it was so much worse.
At the end of my first year of high school I started rowing, and I can honestly say that this sport had the biggest impact on my disordered eating; and not in a good way. A big emphasis was placed on weight and body type in my club and to place importance on those factors for a group of teenage girls between the ages of 14-18 was just so fundamentally wrong to me. I was told when I was 15 years old that in order to make the top boat I had to loose around 10kg over a three week summer break. How messed up is that? What a way to promote an eating disorder to a young impressionable girl. At the time I was not mentally strong enough to say, “No, any sport that requires me to change myself on such a dramatic scale is not worth my time.” It won’t do me any good to dwell on this time in my life, but it is good to know what triggers my issues.
I have been doing a lot of researching around this topic of disordered eating while I have been on my summer holiday and the one avenue that has given me so much advice and support has been a segment on Jessica Sepel’s website called ‘Real Talk’ (find it here: http://www.jessicasepel.com/category/real-talk/) . She presents such an amazing and refreshingly personal point of view on this topic and as someone who has not crossed the healing hurdle yet I do like and appreciate the fact that she doesn’t present healing as a fun filled, all rainbows and smiles process. In fact I distinctly remember her asking her readers to ACCEPT that they are embarking on a healing journey and that it will take time! She also states that “if you have some form of disordered eating/body image stuff-you must know that to some degree it may always be part of you. It never really leaves you.” As odd as this sounds, I am so thankful that she is so frank about the subject and doesn’t try tell me that if I heal my relationship with myself I’ll never have problems again. That’s just not realistic.
I’ll do another blog post soon going specifically into what I’ve learnt from her teaching as this post it already getting very lengthy!However, in the meantime I want any of you out there who struggle with their relationship with food to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. What matters is that you embark on a healing process in order to better your health both physical and mental. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am here for you. I support you on you journey. It might not be easy, but it will be so life fulfilling.