How Society Views Women
As a four-year-old, I vividly remember myself wishing to look as marvelous as Disney female characters often do. As time passed, I became aware of the societal expectations for women to fit aesthetic standards. I found myself at a loss. Erroneously, I attempted to change, practicing the use of harsh remarks. I went through bouts and struggled with mild eating disorders.
Over and Under Eating
Each day was not only an occasion to excessively eat and drink but also a fight against myself. This was a sickness that made me want to leave my body. Over-eating replaced emotional support, and I did it as an act of sad resignation. The short-term purpose was to sooth the loneliness I felt in not loving myself in my own body. For a while, I was even happy when I got sick. That meant that I got to miss ingesting a day’s worth of usual calories. And in camp, I was happy when the number on the scale went down because I thought that meant guys would like me.
Under-eating filled the void where my beauty should have been. I insisted that what I didn’t eat would take inches away and replace it with something that everyone could see: a slender torso and the self-control of a conqueror. It was the sign of conquest over my own body.
Denial of the self was my last resort. Every time I failed, I gave up my right to healthy thought.
The “Distorted Glasses” of Eating Disorders
For too long, I calculated my bodily worth by looking in the mirror. For too long, I observed and lashed out at myself for what I was: not skinny, small, or with a body that could be thrust around like a feather. I measured my self-worth with a sickly yellow strip of mental measuring tape.
The distorted glasses through which I saw my body caused me to view punishing myself for my biology as right. I was missing compliments and precious adolescent moments and wasting my time instead of focusing on what I did have: strength, perseverance, compassion, and understanding. I was ashamed of my size and of my inability to disappear into the arms of whoever would be the man I’d spend my life with in the future, instead of being proud of the sensitive person I was or of the capacity I did have to impact those around me.
Bottom line: I was one of the many women who feel torn about what society says about the way they look.
There is no “Quick Fix”
I do not want to give others the impression that after forcibly changing the way I view myself, that I see myself as rosy hourglass goddess. I also don’t want others to think I’m full of myself on matters unrelated to the way I look. For those who struggle with their body image or maintaining a sense of confidence, reversing that is not a quick fix kind of homework assignment. It is an endeavor that takes a while to get good at, patience and perseverance.
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