Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Taylor Swift’s new documentary Miss Americana (available on Netflix). In this documentary, Taylor shares her personal struggle with an eating disorder that stemmed from the root cause of never feeling like enough.
She opens up the topic by sharing that she had to stop looking at pictures of herself taken by the media. Because in the past, certain photos would trigger her to just…STOP eating. Taylor Swift touches on a lot more than her eating disorder in Miss Americana, but that’s what resonated with me the most. Because I’ve felt those same feelings.
If there is only one takeaway from Taylor Swift’s documentary I personally hope it’s this: BRAVERY. Bravery to share our stories and to finally start this conversation because it’s SO FREAKING IMPORTANT! It’s what has inspired me to finally share mine and tread these murky waters.
Now, I believe eating disorders come in many forms. From my perspective, I think MORE women struggle with it than those that don’t.
We just don’t talk about it.
*Disclaimer: this is not a body shaming article, it’s my personal experience from my point of view. I don’t claim it’s right for you, I just hope you can find a nugget in here that might help. If there’s anything I’ve learned, there’s nothing worse than feeling alone. And the helpless feeling accompanied with it!
Growing up, for me, it started with comparison. The ugly thoughts that would pop into my head when I felt threatened by my friends. Anyone who possessed something I wish I had would send my mind into a dark spiral of self-loathing. In my mind I was never as skinny, pretty or smart as the people I spent time with. It didn’t help when I would stare at the magazines of what I deemed “perfect women” as I grocery shopped with my mom.
Fast forward through high school. I was one of the girls who didn’t escape that awkward stage and my self esteem was at an all time low. But, as I approached my twenties, it didn’t ever improve. The pivotal moment for me was when when I was engaged at 21. I remember telling my fiancee that one of my dreams was to be a SKINNY bride! That thought was all consuming and I based my decisions on having that outcome.
I was in church one Sunday, newly engaged and the conversation turned to wedding dress shopping. One older lady said to me, jokingly, just make sure you don’t gain any weight once the dress is purchased. I don’t particularly remember her comment stinging, but I do remember the sheer determination I felt in that moment, that this was NOT going to happen. It almost solidified the challenge for me and was when I officially made the decision to drop in weight.
That was in the Spring time.
Summer came and the weight started to slip off, now the funny thing is I don’t remember what I did to make it happen. I didn’t starve myself but I cut back my portions and it almost felt, just like that, I had dropped 20 pounds.
At the time, I was living in a different province than my family, so my parents and little sister came up for a wedding social, thrown by my in-laws. I remember my sister taking pictures of me with our digital camera. When I looked at the pictures I was almost taken aback at how “small” I looked.
Fast forward a few more weeks and I was heading to my home town for THE WEDDING. As it always is, that week before the wedding was a gong show! I hardly remember the events but I do distinctly remember stepping on my parents scale at home and seeing the number 98 FLASH at me as I stood there.
I was in shock!
And strangely I remember feeling a little scared that I only weighed 98 pounds. I had never weighed that little before. The last time I remember being on a scale was in high school and I was 125 pounds.
But, once the disbelief wore off, I was secretly delighted at this little secret. I had done it, I had made it happen. No one knew I was 98 pounds but I DID. And because of the number on the scale, I felt I was going to be a beautiful bride all according to the size of my body.
Read that again.
Because of the number on the scale, I felt I was going to be a beautiful bride according to the SIZE OF MY BODY.
EVERYTHING is and was wrong with that belief system.
In Taylor Swift’s documentary she touches on how all she wanted was to be thought of as good. She lived for the pats on the back with her musical success, and the thunderous applause as she finished her songs. For me, at that time I LIVED for being tiny. It’s all I wanted in life.
I wanted people’s admiration regarding the size of my body. Yeah, not exactly an easy thing to admit on the internet! But, that was what it was all about for me in that time of my life. As Taylor Swift reveals it all came down to this one thing, none of us feel good enough so we look for that praise and admiration from others in any way that makes us feel good. In many ways an eating disorder can be the result of how we truly feel about ourselves. Taylor Swift is testament to that!
I always struggled with feelings of worthlessness. I never felt good at anything, and being noticed for my size would make me feel, if even for only a second, that I mattered. The hard truth is ultimately at the end of the day no one cared about my weight. It was just my own assumption and I was the one willing to be miserable for a number on the scale.
THE LOW POINT
I personally continued down this road the first year of marriage. That first year was rocky for my husband and I. We loved each other so much but I didn’t feel desired and my answer to everything started to become: losing more weight.
Now, up to that point, I hadn’t been starving myself. I just kept adjusting my portions. They were getting smaller and smaller and I never kept anything in the house that tempted me. In fact, I would throw it away if I felt it was going to be an issue. And when my husband wasn’t around I would take the opportunity to not eat at all.
A moment I remember so clearly was getting home from Christmas with my in-laws, standing on our scale WITH MY CLOTHES ON and only weighing 95 pounds. This was after a Christmas feast that I probably barely took part in.
By that time I was so numb to it all that it almost didn’t feel real.
That’s when I realized.
What I wanted wasn’t working anymore.
It didn’t make me feel any more desired by my husband, no matter what the scale said. And I wasn’t getting the praise from people that I was wishing sooo badly to receive it from.
In fact, I was starving myself but it was radio silence. The further down the path I went the quieter it became. No one said a word.
The thing is, it wouldn’t have mattered how much I weighed because I didn’t like myself. I didn’t feel good enough, and no matter what the number said I never felt any better. Even at my lowest weight. Ultimately, I wasn’t enough according to me, and that’s why my entire blog is based around the message that we ARE enough.
Right now, in this moment! No matter what you wish you could change about yourself, you and I are enough.
THE TURN AROUND
Now, here’s the part of my story where you’re probably expecting to hear about this huge epiphany! This dramatic turn around but it might not be exactly what you expect. It’s been a DECADE of me figuring out the skeletons in my closet. These things have haunted me…constantly.
It was a slow break through. Daily decisions that I implemented, mostly ‘thought changes’. My eating disorder used to be all consuming, I thought about every single thing I put in my mouth. I remember many times feeling like I could burst into tears because everyone around me was eating but I felt like I was not allowed by the rules I had enforced.
I had to shift my ENTIRE mindset and change my belief system to make a positive change.
Now, I want to be honest, I feel like I am at a very healthy stage in my life right now, but I am still (and may always be) figuring it out. I’m a conscious eater. I pay attention to what I eat but I view food differently. I don’t feel guilt when I eat, I don’t restrict to lose weight, I eat to FUEL my body and I enjoy treats on a weekly basis.
My husband and I just started no carbs during the week a few months ago because it makes us feel less sluggish. We are making certain food choices for the right reasons. I now recognize that I feel best within a certain weight range. This has nothing to do anymore with having to weigh a certain number, wanting people’s praise or not feeling enough. It has everything to do with being healthy, and having energy. I love having a skip to my step, not a tired sluggish one. I recognize that this is deeply personal for every single one of you and that you need to do what is best for you.
What I feel is not okay is if you have a unhealthy mindset towards food. If you are restricting to meet a certain beauty standard that NEWSFLASH, is un-achievable. If you are binge-eating or eating for comfort or stress, you might want to consider what is truly at the root of it all?
This, right here, my blog is a safe place ♥ and there is no judgement here. Just support, love and encouragement. Reach out if you need or better yet help me START this conversation and share your story. Remember the more of us that open up, the more impact can be made and we can end the deafening silence. Let’s be brave like Taylor Swift and begin this important conversation! xoxo.
One last thought, I developed a eating disorder because the size of my body was where I put my worth. I challenge you to ask yourself where are you putting your worth these days?
P.S. Head over to this blog next for the affirming words I tell myself daily that have changed my life.
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