Friday, June 27, 2014

Does it even matter now?

There are a lot of "good intentions" on the internet these days.
People vomiting their opinions into forums and blogs and articles and comments.
The majority of the time I would say there are genuine good intentions backing most of what people are trying to say. Accompanied with a healthy dose of vanity and narcissism, of course. I mean, who of us doesn't get overly attached to checking our notifications/pageviews when we post something? Of course we want to be validated for exposing a piece of our very souls. There's a lot of vulnerability in the internet.
At least I know I feel that way.

Are you ever reading through something, perhaps shared in your Facebook news feed, that you didn't necessarily jump at the chance to read but rather figured, "why not?"
Does that "why not?" chance ever take you by surprise and ignite a lightbulb in your mind?
I suppose that's what we all, as internet contributors, strive to achieve. That spark of realization in others through words of our own making.
I was just reading through buzzfeed's "Why We Need To Stop Talking About What Women Are Eating" (which is an ironic title in the fact that I haven't reached the 'why' yet and I'm over halfway through the article but all they've talked about so far is women's experiences with food...) and suddenly realized that maybe I had an eating disorder.
A small one, but an unhealthy attitude towards food all the same.
My mom is one of the greatest cooks I've ever known, she's the type that can take a random selection of junk from the fridge and/or pantry and turn it into something more-than-halfway decent, so good meals were never in shortage during my growing up years.
In fact, it was a problem. How good her food was (and is). I often would eat seconds, even thirds, of her delicious meals and lick the plate clean. I can't say I was ever even in danger of being obese, but I definitely was chunkalicious. Although at the time it felt like more. It's only now in my mid-twenties that I even realize how far from "disgusting" and "flabby" I really was.
But it doesn't matter now.
Then, with the cheerleaders in all their voluminous blonde, voluptuous curves and tiny waist glory, I was the freckled walrus shoving unironically-retro glasses up my too-large-for-my-face nose.
With my sporty friends (really, acquaintances, I was too shy for actual friend-making) pumping out their mile runs in P.E. at a seven minute average and me puffing around the school field, contemplating sneaking across the street to die in the neighbor's bushes, I felt worthless.
With the witty bullies, using harsh teases to elicit a response and me hardly being able to form the right words to order what I actually wanted for lunch in the cafeteria without being reduced to gasping for air and wishing to hide in the garbage bins, I felt totally alone.
And even more ironically, none of this is at all their fault.
It was all in my head.
But what does it matter now?
My head was the only place I knew.
If only I could wear the clothes they wear.
If only I could say the things they say.
They seem so happy, they know what's up, I should do what they do.
Sometime in middle school/junior high, I simply decided I wanted to get skinny. I was tired of feeling tubby and I wanted to be happy. The obvious choice was to control what I put into my mouth.
I simply started skipping breakfast.
For a while my mom would attempt to shove waffles and toast and pancakes into my hands before I ran off to catch the bus. She moved on to fruit eventually, bananas or apples, but I remained consistent.
I would not eat before going to school.
It felt good to be so determined. I felt like I was doing a good thing.
When I could feel the gnawing in my stomach, that was the sign that I made the right choice.
This was working.
I could "feel" it working.

This ideology seems horrific now.
Unsurprisingly, I was unable to circumvent my naturally biology and even at my skinniest (and still healthy weight range) I was never "model" material.
For a long time, even my parents praised me for maintaining such a "slim figure". I do not wish to criticize them for that fact, my parents are seriously wonderful people, I wasn't engaging in actually physically harming myself.
Only mentally.
Only psychologically.
It never went so far that I went for days feeling hungry. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at school. I didn't survive on cheese cubes and celery. I never engaged in anything that would classify me as anorexic or bulimic.
But my sense of self-image was still severely warped.
I denied myself food when I needed it because I liked feeling hungry. Being hungry was my accomplishment.
"If I'm hungry and don't eat, I'm getting skinnier."
Not only is that scientifically false, it's also degrading and entirely the wrong focus a young girl/boy in school (or not in school!) should have.
The thing I felt best about, was my ability to skip breakfast.
My ability to keep myself hungry.
I guess what I'm saying is that disorders and negative thoughts are sneaky. Nobody would speak up for me because, in all honesty, everything I was doing looked fine. I ate good sized, regular meals (in the lunch and dinner category, at least) and just skipped seconds. I never dipped into the "underweight" range of my height and age. All the facts said I was okay. But my motivation and psychological well-being were the culprits.

And literally just mere weeks ago I thought longingly about the days when I could force myself to wait until I felt hungry, wait until that gnawing in my stomach began, and I (pun alert) hungered for that feeling again. I wished I could be that way again.
Reading that buzzfeed article I had a lightbulb moment.
That isn't good.
That isn't healthy.
Do not misunderstand me, feeling hungry is not a bad thing. Reader's Digest has said that fasting for one day a month is good for our metabolism (LDS peeps, ahead of the curve, amiright?). I do believe that using your body's natural cycle of hunger is a good way to monitor weight and general health.
Using that feeling to view yourself as a better person, however, is cheap and entirely too shallow when considering the great capacity and potential we as humans contain.
Hunger should not be an emotional/psychological crutch.

As any regular reader may have surmised, I still struggle to find the healthy balance in my lifestyle. I love food and I genuinely enjoy eating, but my mood and general happiness reaches optimum levels when I'm eating healthily.
Weight is an incredibly personal battle. The range of body types and our own individual reception of our respective body types coincide in a way that makes it impossible to dictate a look that is "correct".
It's not only unfortunate that body-shaming exists, but also that shaming of inward body-shaming exists.
A skinny girl says, "ugh I'm so fat today," and her less-than-skinny friend stews in fury for such an insensitive comment.
I feel guilt blogging about my weight struggles because outwardly, I appear very average. My middle is a little rounder than is "pleasing" and my arms jiggle and my double chins make regular appearances. But I am by no means "FAT".
I am expected to be completely happy with my body because it is not in it's worst possible state.
The skinny girl posting her tasty summer treat on social media is automatically written off as attention seeking because she couldn't possibly be the type that enjoys sugar. Look at her hot-bod! (see the bizarre and distasteful instagram YouDidNotEatThat)
And on the other hand, the deliciously roly-poly girl snarfing on a hotdog most assuredly must be emotional-eating or drowning her obvious sorrows because who could possibly be okay with that body?

Ultimately, what their body shape needs to be depends entirely on the individual living in said body.
Loving that body also depends entirely on them.
Mothers rarely get the shape they want out of their bodies. Yet what is more beautiful than the vessel that literally created life?
There are so many factors in play. Hormones, genetics, circumstances, abilities, even hobbies.
I mean, I'm a pianist (and harpist), I'm a pathological bookworm, and I really love to nap. My hobbies do not include getting up at four in the morning to "pound the pavement" and work up a good sweat. I have to really strive to motivate myself to exercise, and that's always going to be my struggle.
We all have our inward battles, regardless of what our outside looks like, and we all have to fight them. Continuously. I just wish we all could be better at being supportive of each others' struggles.
This isn't a competition.
I shouldn't need to "one-up" your insecurities.

I can't even end this post with a peppy suggestion or sage piece of advice on how to feel good about your body because that would go against everything I've been trying to bring across.
I can't tell you how to feel about your body.
I can only tell you that you're beautiful. However you choose to be, you're beautiful.

You do you.
If you're proud of yourself for getting off the couch, ditching the bag of potato chips, and joining a gym, you instagram the crap out of that. Don't worry about "humble-bragging". Brag about yourself! Feel the accomplishment!
If you feel ugly and tubby when you're bloating, you moan to your girlfriend about it and console yourself with a candy bar. And when that candy bar crops up in your thighs you grab a handful of cellulite and tell yourself it's going to be okay. That chunk of calories doesn't determine your worth.
Your choices do.
Go on a juice cleanse, try out that fad diet, go running, watch Netflix all day long, spoon an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's into your gaping foodhole all by yourself (way to go champ) and do it proudly.
Do it because you chose to.
Don't rely on it to determine your worth.

You are worth much. And it doesn't matter your size.

I'm haven't said anything new here. There are plenty of people who've said the exact same things, and probably said them better. But maybe if enough of us keep saying it, someone who needs to may start believing it.

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