I preach about self-love.
But let me just say–right now I’m having a very hard time accessing that part of my brain.
So, to begin I’ll let you know my rule when taking pictures: either don’t take them at all, or be prepared to take about twenty until I find one I am comfortable with.
I want to love my body, whole-heartedly, I really do. But, having body dimorphic disorder challenges that ideal constantly. Generally speaking, I am doing a great job working towards my goal though.
I have a meal-plan, guidelines about what to eat and why. And I am learning more and more about intuitive eating. I try to listen to, and not judge, my cravings and hunger cues.
I am damn proud of all that. I like that I am no longer afraid of bagels in the morning. I love that I can have dessert during celebrations. And I absolutely relish the fact that I never read the nutritional facts of ANYTHING I eat anymore. I look at the ceiling when the doctor weighs me. And I am making great strides in ED urges–haven’t had a lapse in a while. I should be a bundle of positivity and righteousness. Everything has been going splendidly, right? I should have my socks and shoes off and be chanting in front of a mirror about peace and self-love.
Omg. I look disgusting.
I thought about the night that photo was taken. I was so naive. Seriously, how pathetic? My arm looks fat. My checks are so chubby. Ugh.
I mean, maybe others thought I liked nice. People were talking to me a lot. The important part is that I danced and laughed the entire night—
**looks at picture again**
Oh god, no. I don’t want anyone else to see this picture. I hate it so much. Why can’t I be cute in candids.
Why can’t I be cute like I used to be in photos?
…Like I used to…
^Of course, I’m referring to when I was stuck in my eating disorder. Under complete control of ED.
Do you see how quickly ED can be missed?
My mind immediately thought of an old photo… around a fire, someone took an unexpected shot of me laughing—I was doing the same exact face, scrunched nose, huge smile—but ED made me look so much cuter. And “recovery” now makes me look fat.
These are my harsh words. I feel tempted to erase them. Why would I want to expose such negativity about myself? Especially when I work so hard to show the power of self-love.
Honestly, because it is human to feel this way. It’s human to have moments of insignificance or unworthiness.
But, I also want to share what happens when you face these thoughts and work through them…
I could have easily shut down my laptop. It’s my first instinct. I’m so disgusted with social media sometimes. I could have just said “I hate this stupid photo. Whatever. I just wont look at it again.”
But, what happens when I do that? That image will linger. I’ll be going about my business and I’ll get a twinge of disgust when I look down at my thighs. My body will suddenly be so pronounced, I will feel like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka. And my urges to eat in order to cope with embarrassment will subconsciously surface. And I’ll binge. Or the pressure to work out will be hovering over me. So I will purge with over-exercising. The point is, without facing these ED thoughts about the picture, he’s going to hang around until I give into his urges.
So I looked at the photo.
I’m laughing, I thought…
YES, and I wish I didn’t crinkle my nose like that. (ED chimed back in).
But, when I crinkle my nose it means I’m admiring the people I’m with.
And that’s what I was doing. I was soaking it all in. MY cousin had just gotten married to a girl that makes him so happy. It was a magical (Disney themed) wedding. My aunt, uncle and mom had been dancing all night—I have never seen them so happy. Rob was with me. He was getting along with my entire family, and everybody loved him. He was looking at me so adoringly. He loves me. He was slow dancing with me, which does not happen often. I was really enjoying my sister’s company—I felt like we were 15 again. I was seriously, genuinely smiling the entire time. In fact, there was another candid taken of me that I actually liked. Probably hours in between both photos being taken and I was still making that same adorably happy face. At least I liked one of them.
OKAY! we are making progress. I am saying kind words about myself.
Alright. Now we can close up the computer.
I still felt like a blueberry. But a cute blueberry, that’s recovering—and I’m going easy on her.
I suddenly realized something.
I opened pinterest and scrolled down to an old folder entitled “vision board.” This was created over two years ago. For those unfamiliar with vision boards, I basically pinned all the photos I wanted for my future. And they were chosen PRE-recovery, so some were quite triggering.
And there it was: the photo I remembered pinning two years ago…
And I remember why I pinned it, too. These two girls are all dolled up at a party:
“I want to go out with my sister, and my friends. I want to be carefree and happy and positive.”
I scrolled down a little more and saw this picture:
“I want to be genuinely happy. I want to smile infectiously.”
Well, hell, isn’t that what I’m doing in this photo? The one that triggered all these self-loathing emotions…
Oh, that’s right, I want ALL of those things (happiness, family, friends, laughter) but I really need to look SKINNY while doing so.
But ED has those values, not me. And ED was the one who choose those photos to pin for my future.
Tasha is the quiet voice underneath it all saying–“No, I really just want the happiness.” ED may have inspired that Vision Board folder years ago, but Tasha controls my actions now, and it was really Tasha who got motivated to write this article. Because I know it’s wrong to be mean to a girl who is experiencing pure bliss in perhaps a not-so-flattering photo.
(By the way, you may or may not agree with the way I looked at my tagged photo. It’s very exposing to announce the judgements I have over myself. Especially when I want to be an example of self love. But the reason why I’ve exposed them is because people tend to judge themselves too harshly. It is human. But I wish it would stop. And if you experience body image issues, social media is a breeding ground for feeling bad about your “so-called” imperfections)
I have to take a deep breath while reflecting on all this.
I really want to love myself.
But It’s still hard to push out ED’s criticism.
However, I know I’ll get there. Because I want it.
I scrolled through instagram for some positive quotes (using social media powers for good instead of evil).
It helped. But then I read an old text from a friend. I saved it because it initially made me cry, and I knew those beautiful words could help me in moments of self-doubt.
I read it over and over. And then I remembered all the kind things other friends, my boyfriend, parents and supporters from Renfrew had said to me.
I felt better. I shouldn’t call myself a blueberry, that’s not nice. And I wouldn’t do it to anyone else.
I’m Natasha, and I work very hard in recovery. I work very hard to love myself. And screw anyone that looks at a photo and judges me for anything less than what I am. Including you ED.
And I hope to look at that photo someday soon, free of ED, and admire my geniune laugher and beauty. Because that’s what I would see if this photo was of another beautiful, strong and happy woman.