By: Yi Yi Huang
*trigger warning for food, purging, eating disorders*
I’ve always had a very long and complicated relationship with my body.
Growing up, I hated this one room in the house: the foyer. On one side, there was a wall of mirrors and I always had to pass it to get from my room to the rest of the house. As early as age five, I remember giving myself a passing glance in the mirror and wondering if I was skinnier or fatter than the girls I knew. I was five.
It’s hard to keep other people’s opinions out of your mind when you’re examining yourself in the mirror. Acquaintances, good friends, and even strangers have made comments like, “What are you talking about? You look fine! You don’t need to worry about your weight.” And then there are comments from my family right when we both appear on the FaceTime screen, “You’ve certainly gotten fatter. Why did you get so fat?” So who am I to believe?
Like any relationship, there are several ups and downs. A couple months ago, I looked at myself and thought, “You know what, I look good. I feel good. I accept myself.” And then after another FaceTime call with my parents, I looked at myself and thought, “God, why do I look like such a fat pig? How can I shed the pounds ASAP?” It’s almost like I can feel my brain getting whiplash because I’m constantly going back and forth on how I feel about myself. One minute I’m lifting myself up and the next minute I’m berating myself for enjoying a brownie.
I always hesitate to give a label to my relationship with my body and to food. Growing up, I always had that voice in the back of my mind to zero in on my fat thighs and my gut. Sometimes, I still let that voice win and let it convince me that that’s all people are focused on. But I did a pretty good job of keeping it at bay until high school.
I moved to a new school and was immediately confronted with daily talk about body image. Girls to my right were talking about weighing themselves and what size jeans they can fit into. Boys behind me were busy talking about the ideal body type on women. This is also the time I was introduced to purging and restricting.
So, guess what? I tried it. I gave in to that voice in the back of my head and tried purging. When that was too unpleasant, I turned to restricting. As someone with little self-control, these phases didn’t last very long. I went back to eating when I wanted without any care about calories. But that feeling of hating myself never went away.
Over the years, these phases reentered my life only to leave again. As of right now, I don’t know what stage I’m in. I am trying to eat healthy and focus on that instead of the numbers on the scale.
I wish I could sit here and write, “And now I love myself completely!” Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to proudly say that I love the way my body looks. For now, I’ll keep on fighting that ugly voice that tells me to be destructive to my body to achieve an impossible ideal.
By no means did I find the perfect solution to this problem. But it’s a mix of focusing on yourself, blocking out the hurtful comments from others, and realizing that we all have insecurities. And the most important thing of all? It’s about knowing that you are more than what you look like.