Body and Other Four Letter Words
Due to a variety of circumstances over the last few weeks, this subject continues to be in my thoughts. It is so disturbing to me how it is permissible in our society to treat others so differently based on something so arbitrary as height and weight. Why is this acceptable? I am so sick and tired of people not realizing that there are many complicated factors that play into eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and obesity. There isn’t a quick fix. Food can be an addiction just as powerful as drugs, sex, alcohol, or gambling. Bullying just makes things infinitely worse.
I’ve discussed it before, but I was relentlessly bullied about my weight and height early in elementary school – grades K-3 – particularly in gym class and at recess. At age 5, classmates commented daily on how short, fat, and ugly I was. The funny thing is that while I may have been a stocky child, I was not fat at the time. At some point, I started to believe them. How was I ever supposed to feel good about my body?
Later in elementary school, I learned that I would never have children naturally. I refuse to say children of my own. When I do adopt, my child (or children) will most certainly be mine. At age 10, it devastated me. To make matters worse, one boy in my class found out about my diagnosis of Turner Syndrome and what it meant. He proceeded to call me a deeply disturbing name as a result, making it clear to me that he knew what I perceived at the time to be private.
It changed me. I vividly remember balling as soon as I came home, refusing for a time to even tell my parents what had happened it upset me so badly. Today, looking back at what he called me, it is almost funny – at least from an adult perspective. After that incident, I owned the fact that I had Turner Syndrome. While I didn’t go around telling everyone, I did explain when asked what it meant. I didn’t hide from it anymore, even though I had only recently learned of the diagnosis myself. Unfortunately, it reinforced the shame I felt towards my body.
As an adult, I find it difficult to deal with my body image issues while dealing with the emotions that come with infertility as well. I can’t deny it: I don’t know when I will ever be at peace with my body when, in my mind, it has fundamentally failed me in what should be a basic function. Somehow, I will have to come to terms with it. I just don’t know how.
In the meantime, I am done. I am done trying to please anyone other than myself. I continue to refuse to play the games society demands of women young and old. There are way too many young girls today who feel as if they are not enough, that their worth is determined by their weight (and/or height). That is why I am sharing something so deeply personal. I want anyone struggling with body image to know that he or she is not alone. Weight and diet are not as simple as we make them out to be.
It breaks my heart to see my Facebook feed full of beautiful women struggling with body image and eating disorders and mothers at a loss on how to help their child rebuild self-esteem through bullying. I see it daily. Frankly, this topic scares me the most about parenthood.