Different sizes lead to a chaotic mindset

From the ages of 10 to 20, nearly every woman I met would comment on my appearance, either praising me or hating me for having a slim figure. As the years went by, such comments were oftentimes followed by orders to eat more, or overt criticism of my “chicken legs.”

As the media became more inclusive, slogans like “REAL women have curves” and “men like something to grab onto” were all over my feed, planting the seeds of my body dysmorphia.

I by no means claim that curvy, busty girls have it easy, and skinny girls are the new victims. I am simply one of the hushed voices sharing my experience. I cannot tell you how many times I tried to share my own bodily insecurities, only to be shut down because “I was lucky enough to have been born with a fast metabolism.”

The thing is, I was never satisfied with my body. I never wanted a thigh-gap, nor for my ribcage to show. The negative comments affected me because I wasn’t at ease in my own skin. I looked up to women like Shakira, Beyonce, and Monica Bellucci; forever wishing for an hourglass figure like theirs. I didn’t like my elongated, skinny legs. I, too, fell for the real woman ideal.

So I did everything I could to try to bulk up, and for the past six years, I have tried every carb-loaded diet I could find to gain as many pounds it would take for me to look curvier. It took me six years to be able to look in the mirror, and be somewhat satisfied with the woman staring back.

Almost a month ago, yours truly spent an insane amount of money at a monetary sinkhole called WINNERS, as a sort of “retail therapy.” Among the many knick-knacks I purchased were two pairs of pants, both different sizes, and both fit me perfectly. One pair was a size 4, the other a size 6, and to add to my confusion, I was walking around in size 8 jeans. I understand a woman’s weight fluctuates between one day and the next, but this was just mind-boggling, and certainly didn’t appease my mind.

Such retail “mishaps,” if we wish to call them, are not uncommon. Every woman I have had the pleasure to converse in such topics with shared the same problem, and the majority of them suffer from severe body image problems.

I would also like to mention that I absolutely do not think such issues are limited to the female population, and acknowledge that men also deal with the same demons.

Earlier this year, 18-year-old Chloe Martin shared a picture of seven pairs of jeans on Twitter, all size 12, looking entirely different, with a caption that reads “Incase you’ve ever wondered why women get so frustrated with our clothing sizes – every pair of jeans pictured, is a size 12.

Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, a website discussing retailing, business and consumer behavior, told that Martin’s photo is “also indicative of the fashion industry’s pervasive and unhealthy attempts to tell women how their bodies should ideally be proportioned.”

I would like to think that one day, we will all overcome this constant obsession with our figures, and be able to live our lives without this crippling anxiety of fitting into one given size. Unfortunately, all I can do is hope.


Graphic/photo by @sundaeghost/Laurence B.D.

Student Life

My personal experience with anorexia

One Concordia student talks about her struggles with body dysmorphia and self-esteem

At 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia.

It all started during the summer of 2008. My family and I often visited the Old Port and went to see movies together. During these family outings, whenever I wore a tight-fitting T-shirt, my sisters and brother would comment on my belly fat. I started to feel extremely self-conscious. “You need to stop eating junk food because you are getting fat,” they would tell me.

Thinking back, yes, I had gained a bit of weight in my stomach area, but I wasn’t overweight. Yet back then, I was disgusted with myself. I would stand in front of the mirror and push my belly in, hoping it would just disappear.

People sometimes don’t realize how the things they say can hurt someone. I felt as if there was something wrong with me because of my obsessive thoughts about my body, my weight and my physical features.

I just wanted to feel “normal,” and feel good about myself. When I started grade eight that September, I slowly stopped eating—I used to skip breakfast and lunch. At night, I would only eat a small snack, like an apple or yogurt, just so that my stomach would not growl all night.

I used to admire the models in magazines, and I wanted more than anything to look like them. I wanted to be skinny—I equated that to being pretty.

I also equated skinniness to being healthy. But at 15, my family doctor told me my skinniness was far from healthy. At 5’2, I weighed only 90 pounds. “You need to start eating or else you’ll die,” he told me. That was my wake-up call. He made me keep a food journal to keep track of my eating habits, and to make sure I was eating.

He also advised my mom to watch me, to make sure I was eating three meals a day. At that time, I was getting bullied at school. People would say I was too skinny and ugly. Those were the darkest days of my life. I felt frustrated when my mom started supervising me. However, even though she had never given me emotional support, I knew this was her way of showing she cared about me. My brother used to call me names because I was skinny. My second sister was actively supporting my recovery, though.

The second wake-up call was when my eldest sister cried. “You are malnourished, I can tell just by looking at you,” she said. At that point, somewhere deep down, I knew I wanted to get better. I wanted to be in good health.

At 16, after over a year of following a strict food regimen, I attained a healthy body weight. I was eating healthy and exercising, so not only was I in my healthy weight range, but I was also getting fit. During my recovery, I started swimming. It was very therapeutic for me, a kind of escape.

I was proud of myself: I was eating well, exercising and overcoming the things that had been tearing me down. At first, it was hard to not hate my own body. After every meal, I felt fat. But when I started gaining a healthier weight, I looked at myself in the mirror, in a swimsuit, and I felt beautiful.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about my experience, it would be that life is short—it’s better to live a long healthy life than die young because of anorexia. You should never feel ashamed of your body. You are beautiful. Health is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Always remember that you are not alone and that you are worthy.

If you are feeling down about your self-image, or experiencing obsessive thoughts about your weight, body or food, please speak up or call for help.

Graphic by Thom Bell

Exit mobile version