I recall first becoming aware of my ‘pudgy stature’ when I was about 11 or 12 years old and my older brothers started calling me “Little Piggy”. I used to think to myself, “What’s wrong with you loser? Why can’t you just be like all the other guys?” Many people will say “Well that’s just how boys are…”. To me, however, it was utterly devastating. It would reshape my brain, my body and my entire life for more than a decade to come.
Many people have asked me similar questions: 'How can you openly speak about your ED?' or “Are you scared that people will judge you for having had an ED?” Others ask, “What if you are not hired for a job because of your history with ED?”. So, I feel it is time to start sharing my answers!
So what does feminism have to do with issues of body image and eating disorders anyway? Try everything.
The following dialogue from the movie “Little Miss Sunshine”, in which Olive, a seven-year old aspiring beauty queen asks her grandpa a question, illustrates part of the problem:
“Grandpa, am I pretty?”
“You are the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“No! I’m madly in love with you, and it’s not because of your brains or your personality.”
Eating disorder. Simply say the words and there are many others that immediately spring to mind. For each person, the association will be different; however, one thing is clear – it’s an emotionally charged issue. As a former eating disorder sufferer, I confess that one of the words I didn’t anticipate encountering on my journey with anorexia was also one of the most damaging – isolation. As the years passed, my ED injured not only me, but also my relationships with my friends, my family, and my world in general.
My name is Jay, and I am an Athletic Personal Trainer. I am also someone who has recovered from an eating and exercise disorder. My issues, like every person who has had an eating disorder were individual to me. All too often we label or group eating disorders into specific categories, but anyone who has dealt with one themselves, or through someone else knows that the behaviours come in all forms, for all different reasons, and are reinforced from all different pressures.
Let me introduce myself: my name is Brooke, I'm a mom (still very awesome to say), wife, sister, daughter and graphic designer extraordinaire. I battled bulimia and anorexia for many years and I'd like to say that I've kicked ED out of my life, but I know that he still lurks around when I'm vulnerable.
I recently found myself leading a workshop on body image and self esteem for a large group of grade seven and eight girls. One of the tools I like to lead with is a getting-to-know-you exercise in which every participant shares their name and something that they like about themselves with the group. The only rule is that this quality cannot be appearance-based. With adults, this exercise tends to be fairly smooth – at our age most adults are able to define something they value about themselves, even if it takes a moment of soul searching.