This Is the Truth -- And It Ain't Pretty

screen shot Are you tired of feeling like you can never measure up? According to mainstream media, we should be spending our time chasing "perfection," snarking on others, and placing our self-worth in our looks. We're over it!

I may be proud to be myself now, but for roughly two years, I hated myself. When I was 11, I decided I was fat. Up until that point, I'd spent my entire life seeing myself through the eyes of a child, as someone healthy, bubbly and completely content in virtually every way. I'd never even considered my physical appearance as a factor in my unlimited well of happiness. I thought I was untouchable. I wasn't.

Wednesday April 28, 2010

Dear Diary,

While we prepared to weigh ourselves in science, I was expecting to be big. But it was a slap in the face to be told I'm heavier than everyone else.

I am huge. Hideous.

I am unhealthy and sickening. No wonder I don't fit in. Who wants to befriend a frizzy-haired, bespectacled, obese 11-year-old?


I will stick to a diet. I will lose weight. Quickly.

I don't care if it's dangerous.

I was the heaviest in my entire class, including the boys. I felt as though someone had stolen everything I recognized to be me. I hated the cage I was stuck in and I spent hours that night poking at it and clutching at the flesh that looked like it was growing every moment. I didn't understand myself anymore.

I started reading through magazines and pausing at every model. I loathed these girls and women, who the girls in my year envied and the boys adored. Yet I loved them. They were exactly what I wanted to be. Before, my dream had been to be an actress or an author. Suddenly, my one aspiration was to be thin. And nothing else, not even the things I'd wished for my entire life, mattered.

The rest of that school year, I remained conscious of my weight. I perfected a gloomy pout. What was the point in smiling when it only made my rosy cheeks stick out further on my massive moon face? What was the point in smiling when I could no longer be happy?
When I turned 12, plagued by anxiety about how boys would react to the fat I imagined clinging to my body and bursting out my clothes' seams, I decided to start losing weight. I began drastically dieting, going to great lengths to hide my behavior from my parents. I didn't understand -- or maybe didn't want to admit -- that I was killing myself.

Friday September 30, 2011

Dear Diary,

It feels like every week is a year, a year I have to battle through, wearily batting obstacles and swatting barriers out of my way. I'm a traveler who's not only lost her way, but her motivation as well.

My biggest worry, locked in the bathroom as I alternately exercised, panted and sobbed, was that my family, who already watched me eat almost feverishly, was going to put an end to what I considered a necessity. I couldn't stop dieting; it had become as much a part of me as my own limbs. I knew I was thin, but I was also scared. There was a voice in my head that kept telling me that if I'd only lose a bit more, it would all be okay. How could I betray it? I thought it was trying to help me, like some kind of personal trainer. In fact, it was the disease.

Wednesday December 21, 2011

Dear Diary,

I have a new problem now, and it's a troubling one. It started gradually, only happening one night a week or so, but I've started binge eating every day now and I can't stop. I've tried so hard to discipline myself, but I just can't.

While all my friends had periods and were developing breasts and hips, I had thinned-out hair and no sign of puberty in sight. I felt scared that I would never be able to have children --sometimes I still feel scared about that. Then something changed forever.

In January of this year, I lost a relative. Aside from wishing I had known him more closely, I became saddened, angry, but also so in debt to him. His death made me realize one thing: I hadn't caused my eating disorder, but I did have the power to change it. I couldn't waste my life or endanger it just because I felt pressured by society to change myself. Instead, I had to help others by changing society.

I'm writing this directly to the magazines I was fixated with, because I'm imploring them, from the bottom of my heart, to stop using photoshop. I used to stare at those fashion spreads for hours on end, wondering why I couldn't be like those skinny girls with the coltish knees and the blemish-free skin. I used to stare at them, then turn to myself in the mirror and punish myself for the girl I saw reflected back at me.

I'm writing this directly to teens, because if you want to do something about this epidemic affecting our generation, you can participate in the Proud2Bme campaign. This isn't about me, and it isn't about you. It's about all of us, working together, to love each other, understand each other and care for each other.

There are still days when I panic about what I'm eating and when I despise my entire body. There are still those thoughts sometimes, just whispers, bubbling up inside me. I've finished writing this article feeling free. I spent two years trapped by my own self-loathing. I will never, ever let anyone else feel the same way.

The Proud2Bme campaign (October 11-13) is a 3-day social media challenge to celebrate who we are and stop the media madness. Will you join us? RSVP now!

Are you struggling with an eating disorder or do you know someone who is? Call the National Eating Disorders Association's toll-free helpline for support: (800)-931-2237.