I was taught from a very young age that being thin was the “ideal” standard of beauty. “You’re so tall and thin – you could be a model when you grow up!” This comment was typical, as I had always been tall for my age.
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.
One of my aspirations is to do my part in undoing the feelings of insecurity and incompleteness people feel in trying to measure up to society's "ideal" beauty standards. However, I find it quite challenging to live up to this ambition on a daily basis. I still sometimes catch myself engaging in fat-talk and making appearance-based judgments in the name of "health" - when I know better. I'm trying not to be so hard on myself because I'm fighting against years of hard-wiring to believe that skinny is the only way to be healthy or beautiful.
Over the last few weeks I have been struggling with my own inner parent. That voice in my head that tells me that whatever went wrong today is my fault or that my feelings are invalid and silly. It’s that nagging voice that pops up every now and again to remind me that I will never be good enough. Sound familiar? I am no stranger to this toxic inner dialogue that attempts to sabotage my efforts to be good to myself. This constant struggle against my inner antagonist got me thinking, why is it so hard to love myself the way that I love others? I would consider myself a fairly loving person.
I knew I was gay my whole life, but sixteen was the age I decided to come out to my Mum and sister (who were, and are, my biggest supporters). It was during the same year that I fell into the throes of an eating disorder.
I remember always feeling apart from other kids: my parents divorced when I was very young, we moved a number of times, and I had trouble making close friends. I lacked confidence as a child; I was always overweight, being teased and bullied for being "gay" - before I was even old enough to know what "gay" was.
This week, Marina Abdel Malak shares ten thoughts about eating disorders (ED).
1. ED is NOT your fault. Maybe you started off by dieting, but you did not mean for it to go this far. Maybe you were just a little hungry and sad and decided to eat too much. Perhaps the hype with weight loss got to you. Maybe your peers or family teased you because of your weight. Whatever the reason, this does not mean that you 'made' yourself have an eating disorder. Know this one thing: you should not be blaming yourself for this illness.