Posted in Blog

Hating Ourselves to Death

My WIP is about a 16-year-old girl whose little sister is diagnosed with anorexia. This has meant a lot of research into the disease which has meant looking through a lot of confronting information, pictures and websites.

The pro-anorexia websites are the most confronting of all. I wish I could reach through the computer and help the authors and followers of those websites. They’re in the grip ofย a truly dangerous disease with one of the highest mortality rates of any mental disorder. They are more likely to commit suicide and even if they don’t they are literally starving themselves to death. The things they write about themselves, their bodies and their hopes and dreams are shocking. They send me cold. But their thoughts aren’t alien to me.

What has also been confronting is that many of the thoughts expressed by those with the disease are thoughts I’ve had about myself. I do not, nor have I ever, had an eating disorder but I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t hate my body. I’ve spent a life time hating my hair (curly and brown), hating my skin (pale and (even in my thirties) prone to breakouts), hating my height (5’2″), hating my boobs (too floppy), hating my ‘hip-dips’ (how is there even a name for that), and most of all hating my flabby, spongy belly. I went on my first diet at 11 and have done battle with my body ever since, following diets, dying my hair, shaving, waxing and plucking, squeezing and picking, taking up exercises I hate and dropping them just as quickly.

You might identify with these thoughts too. Anorexia is obviously very complicated and not everyone bombarded with the ‘thin is beautiful’ message or who gets bullied about their weight and shape develops an eating disorder. In fact, most people don’t. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t negatively affected by the way society prioritises body size over health.

If you suspect that you or someone you care about it suffering from an eating disorder, I encourage you to seek help. Go to your loved ones or trusted people, see your doctor. The thing I’ve learnt from my research is it won’t just go away, it’s not just about ‘eating a sandwich and getting over it’, it’s about things going on in the brain that you can’t control without help. Don’t wait. Time is not on your side.

As for the rest of us (me included), let’s try to treat ourselves with a bit more love. For my part, my body is strong and healthy. It produced two beautiful little boys. My husband thinks I am sexy. It allows me to travel, to write, to learn, to see, sing and dance. It allows me to carry my elderly friends shopping into the house and to massage my mum’s tired feet. I still hate it most days, but I trying to learn to love it. We can all do that.

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I'm an educator, mum and wife living in beautiful Victoria, Australia. I make learning resources for passionate, but time-poor, teachers in need of a better work-life balance. I'm a voracious reader, love a good curry, and believe life is always better with chocolate.

10 thoughts on “Hating Ourselves to Death

  1. I often imagine sending these girls to places like Africa where this kind of mental poisoning did not go on (perhaps it does today with the influence of the internet). All the things you described are seen as positives in many parts of Africa and it would be a real awakening for those girls to see the influence their crooked society has on them.
    The west’s affect on women is much more pervasive because much of it is so much more subtle and then you have the bits that don’t even pretend to be subtle. Even if anorexia can be an isolated mental condition it’s feeding ground is very fertile.

    1. Absolutely. The girl with anorexia in my WIP is only 7 (apparently a growing number of young children are being diagnosed with the disease). In trying to find out what might have influenced her I only had to look at the cartoons that my children enjoy. There are no Rubenesque figures. It’s a very subtle and, I believe, unintentional message about how people should look. And it’s not even about replacing all slim women with curvy women, it’s about showing a multitude of diverse women (and men), living happy, successful, fulfilling lives.

  2. OMG! Such a beautiful and real post! I used to do this a lot when I was younger but over the years ( through a lot of internal deep work and self care), I’ve been able to free myself (still a work in progress) from the comparison monster. Media and society amplify our “faults” and or “imperfections” rather than celebrating diversity. It is my belief that this is a deliberate attempt to maintain certain societal power structures, etc.
    Freedom and peace with who you are as a woman, only comes when we see beauty in our “so called imperfections “; these really just a few things that make us originals!
    Looking forward to following more! Tonye๐ŸŒธ

    1. Great points. And I agree, these ‘imperfections’ do make us unique. We’re in such a hurry to fix ourselves (and our children) that we miss out on appreciating the little things that make us all individuals.

      1. I’m going to sound so old here, but how do you put those cute emojis in your comments?

      2. That makes sense! I was starting to wonder if people had a special keyboard that I hadn’t heard about. I wonder if that’s the future of computers – ditch the numlock section and put in emojis ๐Ÿ™‚

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