By Karen Szabo of The Antsy Butterfly
As someone who has lived most of my life with body image issues, I’ve had a great few months living with a broken scale and not worrying too much about how much I’m working out and what I’m eating. Instead of working out four or five times a week, I’ve been okay with working out once or twice a week. Instead of swearing off take out and junk food, I’ve allowed myself a little more leeway.
Until today. Because today is the day that things changed. Today is the day that, since 8:45am, I’ve done nothing but think about how much I want to work out and what food I can have. Today is the day that I heard my first comment related to my body in a long time. Today is the day that a woman at work told me I should put some meat on my bones if I want to stay warm in this frigid weather, and thanks to that comment, I’ve done nothing but think about how I look and if I’m truly satisfied with my body. Today is the day that I took the dead battery out of my scale and put it on the table to remind myself to get a new one so that I can check my weight.
Today is the day that I wonder if I truly am small enough.
I’ve been obsessed with my body, and my weight, since I was eight years old. It hasn’t been a constant issue, but rather one that pops in and out at its own free will, and I’ve done everything to control it — which is to say I’ve been a fad dieter and a diet-pill-popper. But the past few months I’ve been relatively worry-free and able to get on with my days without constantly focusing on my weight and image. At least until today.
(Congratulations lady, you’ve invited the issue back into my life without even knowing it.)
When I got home, I rushed to the mirror and checked myself out. On one hand, I was excited. Excited that this woman who I don’t know personally thinks that I’m skinny and need more meat on my bones. I’m thrilled she thinks I’m small enough to make that kind of comment. On the other hand, I’m left wondering how much more meat I can take off my bones.
How much more?
So, to her, I say this:
I’m thrilled you think I’m skinny enough to make that kind of comment, yet I’m troubled as to why you think that’s appropriate. I’m mean, I’m sure you didn’t say it to be rude or inappropriate. I’m sure you thought you were being funny and perhaps even paying me a compliment, and while my body obsessed mind thanks you profusely for recognizing my size, my rational mind is angry with you for bringing it up.
Of course, you don’t know my problems or my struggles: you don’t know that I’m happiest when I’m too skinny for my frame, and you aren’t aware that I have a love-hate relationship with my body. You are also unaware of my body dysmorphia.
I’m not angry with you because you couldn’t have predicted that your comment would have triggered my need to take a closer look at what my body looks like. I’m not upset with you because you don’t know me and you couldn’t possibly have predicted this downward spiral. I do hope though that the next woman you wish to pay that kind of assumed compliment to, please don’t.
It truly is amazing how much words can affect someone.
So now, as I have returned home and looking in my fridge for something to eat, I am at a loss. Can I have those leftovers or is last night’s serving enough? Can I make myself a grilled cheese or is that too much? Should I just skip lunch and workout instead? These thoughts I have now remind me how easy the past few months have been without them. I’m reminded how peaceful and quiet it’s been in my head without the constant battle of weighing my food options and workout regimens.
This is a set-back I’m used to and with a little work, I’m hoping to push my obsession aside so I can get back to that quiet place I’ve been living in for the past few months. I haven’t lost the battle yet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen lives with her husband, her busy kid, and her tiny pup. With a long history of mental health, she is finally putting her thoughts to paper, hoping to reach others by saying it all out loud. She writes on her blogs, The Antsy Butterfly, and her work has appeared on The Mighty. Follow Karen on Twitter: @AntsyButterfly.