content warning: disordered eating
You can tell you've taken your aesthetic too far when a tiny part of you starts to believe that if you weaned yourself off of food, you'd be able to exist as a formless being of energy, hovering in mid-air, fueled by the stars. That if you stick to this runway long enough, you'll eventually take off and fly. That it doesn't really matter what's going on behind the scenes because what you're producing is bright and strong and decisive.
Here's whats going on behind the scenes, my dear readers: I am eating one, maybe two, meals per day. I am lucky, I suppose, that this is by choice. There is food in the kitchen. I open the fridge and the cabinets knowing I won't take anything out. This ritual is more for my eyes and my arms than my mouth. I don't really get hungry anymore. On the rare occasion that I do, I know the feeling will pass if I ignore it. There are so many more interesting things I'd rather do, like clip my toenails or refresh Twitter again. I told my therapist, who is very concerned about my eating habits, that I have many goals and aspirations and eating is not part of any of them. She told me that sometimes gets clients who wish they didn't have to work so they could eat all day. And less often, she'll get clients who wish they didn't have to eat so they could always be working.
But I am not working with all the time I spend not eating. I am too tired for that.
I've only talked to a few people about this and I'm so grateful none of them have tried to fix me by telling me that I look fine the way I am. This isn't about wanting to be thinner or prettier. My photos are turning out the way I want them to and that's enough for me. Which is kind of the problem, because photos turning out fine is not a medically or culturally recognized metric for health.
The first thing they tell you about disordered eating is that it's about control. And who am I to buck a cliché? So many things about me are a cliche and I've accepted that. This isn't any different. I'm not going to go into why I feel that way but if you can't imagine, use the internet you're on to look up the many different ways people express their entitlement towards women's bodies.
People like hearing stories about overcoming hardships after the struggle is over. There's no satisfying narrative arc if you're still in the middle of it. But everyone likes a call to action. I can't speak for anyone else, but these are things that have helped me:
- Eating meals with friends. I love eating meals with friends! It's the best. It also makes food less boring.
- Expressing concern, if you feel so moved, without judging or overreacting. Noticing patterns and pointing them out in a neutral tone of voice when they come up can be helpful. There are lots of things I'm so glad my friends have pointed out, because I wouldn't have noticed otherwise! But making people feel scrutinized or that they need to hide things from you is not productive.
- Recognizing that people don't have to lose/gain a lot of weight for things to be Not Fine. I'm pretty much the same weight I've been for the last 4 years but things have been better.
In my long + troubled relationship with food, this is the first time I've written about any part of it. Thanks for sticking with me.