BMI- Body Mass Index (My-Body My Image)

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.

Eliana Sidlow’s Picture of flowers and rocks in nature

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.

Please click here to read other pieces pertaining to eating disorders


Eliana Sidlow
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4 Comments on “BMI- Body Mass Index (My-Body My Image)

    1. Respecting your body with your behavior and actions may eventually help you think about your body in a more respectful manner. Eating healthily, exercising regularly, and wearing clothes, makeup, or jewelry that make you feel pretty, are all ways to start. Another crucial step is trying to tell yourself good things about how you look, but also about the person you are. Even if you don’t believe what you tell yourself at first, aim to one day believe it and to take compliments when people do tell them to you. There are no quick fixes, but small steps that help a person physically and innately feel that they are doing right by their body, emotions, and mind.

      1. So my treatment team actually tells me to purposely eat unhealthy foods (because I’m scared of them), and I’m not allowed to exercise (which is really hard, because it makes me feel so much better about myself). I have to find ways to love (or at least just accept) my body that aren’t eating disorder related. For me, right now, eating only healthy foods and exercising are ED behaviors. I love what you said about speaking positively to yourself, even if it doesn’t feel true at first. I wish more people understood that “there are no quick fixes!” Very true! It’s a slow process, which makes it so much harder to stay committed to recovery. Do you ever feel that way?

        1. I am a firm believer that foods (unless you’re allergic or have a medical condition) should not be off limits. An insightful life coach told me recently that if food becomes the enemy, any food-healthy or not, then you’ve lost sight of the real goal, which is to repair the relationship you have with food. Food nourishes, fuels, and is a source of enjoyment. If food is to become neutral to you, the healthy and unhealthy foods must be pleasant and fun to consume. The more often you have or reframe your thinking about favorite dishes, the less you will desire it. The more ordinary an experience becomes of eating two Oreos, so next time you don’t have to have a whole box. That which is off-limits becomes that much more desirable, but if it is totally permitted, it becomes a regular, tasty item that you have every once in a while. Easier said than done, food can be a pleasurable, fun part of life. Since you eat three or more times daily, life presents itself with many opportunities to work on your relationship with food. Be patient with yourself and be mindful.

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