Why I Won’t Call You Skinny

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I remember the first time I heard the words that will stay with me forever. I remember the smile on the woman’s face as she looked at me with envy and I remember the pride that exuded from me that day thinking I had just won a gold metal. What were those words? No they weren’t you are amazing. No they weren’t you are so smart or kind. They weren’t even you are beautiful. Those words which held me in a death trap for over a decade were, “You are so skinny!”

I was ten years old and standing in the school hallway before class. A former teacher looked at me and gushed as she told me how skinny I was, how much weight I had lost, and how incredible I looked. I learned on that day; skinny was to be praised, skinny was noteworthy, skinny made people stop and notice, skinny was what I should strive to be. My heart breaks and I literally feel sick as I think of that young, innocent girl holding her princess backpack as her grasp of beauty begins to slip through her fingers.

I think if only the teacher had known I lost weight because of mental issues that were weighing me down, if she had only known each day at lunch I traded my home packed lunch for half of a subway sandwich (that a girl who’s mom was on the subway diet gave her each day). And if only she knew once I was given that six-inch sandwich I never managed to eat half of it. If only she knew, ironically the same year, I learned about how important skinny was I also learned what eating disorders were. However, I never even dreamed I could have one, because I wasn’t an emaciated Ballerina and I didn’t throw up my food, so how could I have a problem. That same year I would stand outside my Reading Class with a headache so terrible I could barely focus because I had eaten nearly nothing that day. However, the only thought which crossed my mind was “If this is what it takes to be skinny, it is worth it”.

For over a decade I would believe the lie, “skinny was the best thing possible”. Skinny fueled my Ed. I would try to brush off every compliment related to my size. I would deny it when someone said I was smaller than them. Shrug my shoulders when size “x” didn’t fit me. I would laugh when someone asked me for my diet and exercise tips. Inside, I would be thrilled. I was ecstatic of the praise and attention. Proud that my size had earned me this “privilege”.

Secretly though, I was dying physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought in order to be loved, in order to be valued, in order to be praise worthy I needed to stay this skinny. It was a losing game because no matter what the number on the scale said, no matter how small the size got, no matter how many people complimented, it wasn’t enough. And even more, the skinnier I got the more I lost MK. I had no idea what true beauty was and that it had nothing to do with the size you were.

Looking back I don’t blame the woman who stopped me in the hallway, she didn’t cause my eating disorder. My Ed was about so much more than that. That woman merely played the part that society has taught us to play. We are taught from an extremely young age that beauty and (even more) size are important. We are taught that it defines our worth and who we are.

What if I told you it didn’t though? What if I told you striving for skinny and even more perfection won’t get you anywhere but heartache. If you know me today you know no matter how much weight you may have lost or gained, I will never comment on your size. I will never tell you how skinny you are. I will never say you look like you’ve put on weight. Because I don’t believe commenting on people’s sizes is appropriate in any way, shape, or form. Because I don’t believe your view of beautiful should be determined by a comment, or a magazine, or by comparison.

When we take time out to comment on something we are stating what we feel is important to say. Worth is put in our words. I never want someone to think they are valued for their size. Because size doesn’t define worth. Size doesn’t define beauty.

May you know you are beautiful for millions of things but your size should never dictate your beauty. And may we work together to stop using words like skinny or fat or commenting on size in general.

And may you always remember how loved and worth it you are,

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Scary but NOT Impossible

There is a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” I feel as if this has been the mantra of my life the last few weeks. Now if I am being honest, I did not set out for this to become the motto of my current life. However, I am also not so opposed to it after I have lived out the last few weeks and they have turned out incredible. You see if I were to describe myself even six months ago, fearful was something I fully embodied. Ed loved the fearful MK, she was obedient to her relationship with him and she would do anything for fear of losing that. Well this MK doesn’t live that life anymore and let’s just say the last few weeks have been all about being fearless, not fearful…

There are a lot of things that make me cringe and standing on a scale is one of them. In the last year, my treatment team and I made the decision for me to not know my weight and to this day I still don’t. The only time I step on the scale is when I go to the doctor and even then I have some incredible doctors who have techniques to make sure I never see or find out my weight. However, just the anticipation of stepping on the scale this week brought me into a panic. Even though I knew I would never see the number and no one would let me know my weight I still didn’t want to do it. That number used to hold so much power over me and the action of stepping on the scale has always brought back that same sinking feeling it did for so many years. This week though it didn’t. I went to the doctor, stepped on the scale, and stepped off it. Nothing happened. No fireworks, no fainting, nothing. I didn’t see the number and I didn’t think twice about it. In fact, my doctor and I didn’t talk about my actual weight at all. For once, I didn’t care about the number I didn’t care that other people in the office knew the number. While even as I type this it sounds crazy thinking about my former life, for once the scale didn’t hold the same power. Because for once in my life, I finally believe that I am not defined by that number. In truth that number means nothing. And not only did I conquer a huge fear in that realization but it also showed me how Ed doesn’t dictate my life anymore.

While we are on the subject of things that make MK cringe, another thing that has always made me cringe is form fitting clothing. And when I say form fitting, I mean leotard tight fitting clothing. The kind of clothing one might wear to dance or work out in. I have always felt incredibly self-conscious in any type of clothing that even slightly revealed my shape but especially in a dance/workout leotard type outfit. It brings me right back to my days of dance as a three year old, when I sadly was aware and focused on whether I was smaller or bigger than the other girls in the room. So what did I do this semester? I signed up for Ballet. Now this is in no way because I was itching to conquer my fear of leotards and mostly focused around the fact that in the last semester of my senior year I wanted to take a class that I loved. While I may have always hated leotards I have always loved dance. When I showed up for my first day of Ballet I was not altogether shocked that leotards and tights were the required attire. However, I was shocked when I went and bought my new dance attire and didn’t have a breakdown in the dressing room. Even more, I was severely shocked when I went to Ballet the next day wearing my mandatory leotard and tights and I felt fine. I even felt more than fine. In fact, I felt normal. I didn’t freak out, I didn’t have a melt down, I didn’t stare at my self in the mirror criticizing every part of my body,I just danced and I loved it! For the first time ever, I didn’t worry about how I looked in something or how other people thought I looked, I just enjoyed dancing.

And if conquering my leotard fears weren’t enough I decided I would conquer my other exercise fears as well. Part of my Anorexia revolved around my obsession to run and the over exercising I did only furthered my disorder. When I started treatment, I wasn’t allowed to exercise. In fact, I was forbidden from even going on a walk. That was how much my body needed to recover from all the damage that I did to it through exercise. I needed to rest and rest I did. This summer I started back to exercise in moderation but I knew I needed a little more support than solo exercising. So once again, I signed up for a fun class, jogging. And much to my surprise I have loved it. Because deep down MK loves exercise, it was Ed who warped her mind and made it torture. Even after class on Tuesday, when I learned that every machine in the rec shows how many calories you burn (Side note: This truly enraged me as I don’t think anyone needs to knows this info and it only furthers Ed’s lies.), I didn’t freak out. I found a way to use something to cover that part of the machine and moved on with my workout. I truly loved my workouts during my class and am looking forward to more. It’s not about the exercise anymore it’s about being able to feel my body move and even take time to think and clear my head. I wanted to reaffirm to myself that exercise in itself wasn’t awful but the way I had used it in the past certainly was, and even more that I was no longer that girl anymore.

So maybe you just read some of my accomplishments this past week and you are laughing to yourself because in the scheme of things these are all pretty minute accomplishments. And I totally understand that but for me they were all pretty huge deals and I think I speak for most with a relationship with Ed, when I say that these are just a few things at the core that we struggle with. For me the last week was spent doing things that scared me and learning that my life didn’t come crashing down when I did them and even more that I was not the same girl I used to be.

Now I don’t want to paint the rosy picture that none of these were hard to do. My best friends can tell you that I had quite a few panic sessions before I accomplished any of them and that everyday is not a great day and even more that I am in no way perfect in my recovery. However, the point is I accomplished them and learned to face my fears, some of my biggest fears. My eating disorder was about so much more than just food and control over my food. My relationship with Ed, encompassed much more, including: my relationship with my body, my body image, my weight, my exercise habits, my wardrobe and on and on, but my life isn’t dictated by any of those things anymore.

My point in writing this post is not to receive a pat on the back or a compliment on how great doing all these things are, while those are all very sweet things it’s not what I want. The purpose in this blog has always been to encourage others who are struggling with Ed and provide hope. Hope that there is life after Ed and that this life without Ed, is a beautiful life. So when you read this I want you to know that you too can do it. You too can accomplish all these things and more. I want you to know that recovery is possible and oh so worth it. Just reread what I just accomplished this week. MK with Ed could have never accomplished any of those things but MK without Ed sure can and has and even more she knows that this is just the beginning of a life without fear! Be encouraged my friend all this and more is possible for you too and always, ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK