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on Body Image--and why I write about it.

It's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 24-March 2). Because of that, there's some great literature on the internet this week, including this piece by Kate Fridkis which I read on Huff Post Women this morning and inspired me to write what follows...

I write about body image because "How can I know what I think until I see what I say."*

I write about body image because I hardly ever feel beautiful, but know that I am. 

I write about body image because beauty is an alienating thing--a terribly lonely thing--belonging not to the the person in possession of it, but to all those with the eyes to behold it.  

I write about body image because at the age of nineteen, heartbroken and homesick and absolutely out-of-my-depth, I learned what a calorie was. 

And I followed a false god home. 

I write about body image because it took five minutes in front of a mirror to reshape how I perceived my own body. Not thin, fat. 

Fat, now

I write about body image because the body is flesh and bones and tangible in a way that everything else is not. 

I write about body image because it's easier to think a man doesn't like me because-of-what-I-look-like than to hang in the gray space of the-infinite-uknonwn. But why, why doesn't he like me?

And I'm not good at the gray space.

I write about body image because body-image sometimes seems like a life-raft worth clinging to in the choppy waters of this impossible sea we call life.

It isn't.

I write about body image because for many, many years when I would feel too much, I would eat too much, just to sleep, a little. And then, to feel nothing, if only for a moment.

I write about body image because some days it is absolutely unbearable to live in my skin. And I think I cannot endure this sensation a moment longer. And I know it has nothing do with my physical body...yet it feels like it does. 

I write about body image because for a long time it was easier to hate my thighs and my hips than admit I really did not like myself.

I write about body image because it is the prism through which we, as women, see and talk about the world.

We talk about wanting to look this way or that way, when (I'm convinced), what we really want is love and acceptance and life-alteringly-good-things. (And appearance, for the most part, does not alter one's life--not in the big ways we always imagine it might. This, I know from experience).

I write about body image because it is the code by which we discuss things so large they scare us to say aloud.

I say I'm fat when what I really mean is I'm sad. And I berate the size of my thighs because that is easier than admitting I am untethered and adrift and totally lost at this point in my life--that notion is too big and too true and will surely make others uncomfortable, so I make it small...so small that it is about the size of my waist and the color of my hair and the awkward arrangement of moles on the left side of my face. 

I write about body image because before I can tell you just-why-it-is-I-really-don't-care-for-a-particular-woman (and sometimes, I really don't) I can say no less than five judgmental and evaluative things about what-she-looks-like. (Think about it, I bet you can do this too).

I find this both appalling and fascinating.

I write about body image because it shouldn't be a thing, but it is a thing, and more than that.. it points to THE-THINGS!(all the big and significant things that life is really and actually about and therefore difficult to break down into small, manageable pieces).

I write about body image because my eating disorder wasn't about what I looked like, even if for years I thought that it was. And so body image isn't really about what we look like, even if we continue to cling to the notion that it is.

I write about body image because I'm so much better now and so much happier and I still have a nearly impossible time having my photo taken...and what the hell, you know?

*E.M. Forster said this. And he's the coolest. 

almost every post i've ever written
about my struggle with an
eating disorder can be found

and my most recent one...on the inevitable end of the thing. 


Purple Dreamer said...

Thank you for this post Meg. I can appreciate each and every reason you wrote. Thank you too, for the link to Kate's article, both hers and yours are very meaningful to me. I will be reading through your past ED posts as I am on my way to recovered myself.

Chicago girl moves on said...

God damn, Meg. All of this. All of this. Thank you.

I wrote this yesterday. Every day should be as important as this week.



marian rose said...

Food for thought....thanks for speaking your truth. Time to reexamine this shadowy side of myself. xo. m

Caroline said...

I love this. It is so amazingly true. Thank you for a new perspective to think about things through.

Brittan said...

Thank you for writing about this. It really does so much good. I've learned a lot through these posts. I am struggling with it every day and have no idea how to even think about it, much less talk about it. It's an agonizing part of my every day life, that's all I can say.

Alex said...

This post. This post is perfect, Meg. Thank you for writing about the things I can't. For being able to verbalize what I am too weak to write right now. Thank you.

AshCall said...

I love this post. It's so awe-inspiring. I just began blogging about my own eating disorder, I know... how many other women can possibly have an eating disorder? But I really appreciate your courage to speak out and help inspire the rest of us to speak out as well! Keep talking!

leah ruth said...

"because it is the code by which we discuss things so large they scare us to say aloud."

so true... this, and all the rest. you have amazing insight and honesty. thank you for writing and sharing.

Kiersten said...

I really loved reading this post... My school has been celebrating this week - with meetings and lectures and such... But of all the things I've heard and read, this was one of my favorite. Of course the media and culture tell us to look a certain way, but we feel like we aren't good enough for more reasons than our bodies - and this post points that out.
<3 Kiersten

Anonymous said...

Thank You for being raw and open. Specific lines in this post and your previous post inspired me to write an equally inspired email to my husband. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

WOW. This post blew me away. Seriously. You are an amazingly talented writer. A writer with a story. My story is similar, although I don't tell it as beautifully as you :-) sending love

Kate said...

Just came across your words by accident, but I know now that it really was no accident.

Carolyn said...

Your writing is poetic and cerebral. I really enjoy following this journey of yours and can't wait for the next chapter.

Arden Greenspan said...

You speak for all humans that measure ourselves by the size of our "Home" and not by the size of our "Heart."
Self and body acceptance, love, yes, that's the healer that bonds us all together:)
As a Mom, Eating Disorder/Nutrition Specialist and a big supporter of NEDA week, I applaud your candid poetry today.
Thank you!!!

Arden Greenspan said...

I am a psychotherapist, eating disorder/nutrition specialist, mom, advocate and activist for positive self and body image, bolstering self worth and esteem.
I am a member of NEDA, NOF(National Osteoporosis Foundation), SAG/AFTRA.
Please send comments to my email and any links.
I blog on teen related issues, eating disorders and parenting.