I work in an elementary school. Friday was “Fitness Fun Day”- wear your workout clothes to work!
I chose an excellent and loud outfit (think 80’s style) and then asked my husband to take a picture so I could see what it looked like (we don’t have any full-length mirrors in the house).
I was shocked and horrified.
I saw someone who was incredibly skinny, in an ugly sort of way. I saw a skeleton. Yes, I am working on weight restoration from my eating disorder, but it is rare I see myself as “too skinny.”
All of a sudden, I wasn’t sure what to wear to school. Should I just go and change into my usual work clothes instead of having a bit of fun with the school spirit day? Should I wear my baggy sweatpants to hide my body?
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Later, I was talking with my nutritionist about the change in my thought pattern when I viewed the picture. She surprised me with a simple question – “Is that your wise mind or your eating disorder talking?”
I was surprised. At first, I thought it was definitely my wise mind talking. After all, I thought I was seeing the “real” me – what I actually looked like instead of what my eating disorder usually tried to convince me I looked like.
But then, I realized it wasn’t a completely wise mind talking. My wise mind wouldn’t judge my body and that is exactly what I was doing. I was still seeing flaws in myself instead of looking at the outfit, which was the original purpose for the picture. I was seeing a body that wasn’t “perfect.”
It did not matter that I was seeing my body as “too skinny.” Sure, it may motivate me a bit for gaining weight, but the goal isn’t to ‘hate my body healthy’. The goal is to love my body healthy! The goal is to eat what I need to because I care about myself and my body, not because I want to look a certain way.
In fact, thin shaming can be just as hurtful as fat shaming.
Yes, our society tends to glorify thinness, but people can also be made fun of all the time for it. I’ve been mocked in the past for my thinness (prior to the development of my eating disorder). I was called “the skinny, weak one” on my soccer team. At the time, I believed them.
I thought I was weak because of my weight, even though it was purely genetics. Looking back, I realize how much power and force I had in the defense position when I was brave enough to use it. Unfortunately at the time, I believed the others and did not try my hardest, afraid of messing up and getting mocked even more.
I had people ask me about “my eating disorder” before I even had one. I internalized this to believe that people were always judging others and I would never be perfect enough.
Thin shaming led to working out more in an attempt to look stronger. It helped lead to an eating disorder (granted, a lot more went into the cause of the eating disorder). I was so focused on how terrible my body looked, I was living into the expectations others put on me.
On the day of the picture, I did wear my crazy fun outfit to school. I wore it with a display of self-confidence, a love for my body that I am slowly starting to embrace, and a hope to portray a message of fun and love to my students. Love for them, but even more importantly, love for myself.
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