I just read a copy of Seventeen magazine that two pages about 'making peace with your body' and three about getting flatter abs. I generally maintained my weight to the extent that I could feel comfortable/ fit into my clothes. A serious concern, as I am lazy and one generally does not spend £210 on jeans without internally rationalizing ‘but I’ll wear them forever!’. That is generally within a 10lb fluctuation, personally, but I’m really tall. I also like to stay muscular, because I have the lanky upper torso of a 12 year old boy. For the past few months, I've been around the upper end of those 10lbs.
Recently I dropped about 15lbs through depression. And yes, even through my veil of tears I was pleased to have dropped some weight. I'm ALWAYS glad to have lost some weight. I am a recovering bulimic with severe control issues. I'm the definition of 'neurotic'. But when my current boyfriend validated my weight loss by saying I looked 'much healthier', despite the fact that I had been living on Naked smoothies and two bites of whatever he was having for dinner, it threw me through a loop.
I had lost weight, but I was dizzy and cold constantly and you could once again see my breastplate, spine and all my ribs. That is not traditionally what one would class as 'healthy'.* Needless to say, it stung. I did the mature and rational thing by making him immediately get the fuck out of there.
I realized that this is a reflection of his own issues (he has also suffered from an eating disorder) but at present I weigh 17lbs more than I did when I was almost hospitalized for the second time (the first time being when I was 14 but that is another story for another day). At that point (two years ago, my worst) I was eating only one meal a day, purging it immediately afterwards, downing prescription laxatives, waking up at 5am to quite literally evacuate my bowels and then at 7am working out with my personal trainer for an hour and a half (who I kept all of this from, up until he began asking if I would maybe see a medical professional).
That was my routine every day, for about 10 months. I had to have blood tests once a week to make sure my potassium levels were stable enough that I wouldn't die. I would vomit blood and comfort myself with the fact that it came from my mouth, not my stomach. On the increasingly frequent occasions it was actual internal bleeding, I'd go and have a cigarette and weigh myself. 'Whatever, dude' I thought. 'At least I'm getting thin.'
Eventually, after an extremely close call, where I was almost sectioned by a horrified doctor with no experience in eating disorders ('You really need to stop, y'know. With the throwing up') I decided I would try to get better at home, with my parents and therapist rather than play ‘who can eat the slowest’ for a month. And I was getting better. I was eating. But this hit me hard.
ANYWAY. As in all things, there is an article somewhere in this experience. What my boyfriend said t me was possibly the dumbest thing ever, but it raised an interesting question; is this ever okay?
Do you also feel like you have to maintain a certain weight for your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/partner? In magazines we're told one of two things; 'guys love curvy girls, you should be yourself, girl power!' and 'lose some weight you fatty little oink pig, maybe Reformer Pilates will make him love you'. Neither of these are very helpful. I think you should be considerate of each other in a relationship, but does that extend to (some extent) surrendering your own body autonomy? WHY DON'T THEY TEACH THIS IN SCHOOLS?
I've often said that my eating disorder, while retrospectively a need for control, was exacerbated by the media. I think we are all influenced to some degree by the images we see every day, but also by what they represent. For women, maintaining total asceticism is the ultimate control. And that is obviously reflected through the body. That is why so many pro-ana websites glorify the extreme. But how much of what women do regarding weight is for the men in their lives?
There’s that saying ‘women only dress for men, or for other women’ and I’m starting to realize that’s the same with body types. The models in say, Nuts are very different from the ones in Grazia. Being thin is an ultimate goal, certainly, but as far as men(‘s magazines) are concerned you should also have giant tits and a smaller scale version of Kim Kardashian’s ass. Perhaps something in a nice size 8. How much of this affects us subconsciously? Do you or have you taken any extreme measures to stay thin?
And while I certainly realize what my (ex) boyfriend did was the definition of idiocy, what I want to know is, do you feel like you should you have to maintain a certain weight/shape for a boyfriend? Is that a 'thing'? Is it just considerate? Or is that bullshit? What if you were happy with your weight and he wasn't? I’d like to feature the best comments in an upcoming article, so fire away and let me know what you think. Word vomit away.