Slowly but Surely
My battle with my own body came at an early age. Like most teenage girls, I aspired to transform my body, my unique parts of myself, and my identity to what I saw online. “Lose weight in 30 days”, “how to get rid of hip dips” and “how to get a flat stomach” consumed my thoughts, and energy, and changed the way I defined myself. There wasn’t as much body positivity or awareness compared to today and the bodies portrayed online weren’t what normal bodies looked like. Resultingly, I aspired to change my body to what I was told it should look like, not knowing that this was the start of a very long battle I had started between my mind and my body.
I began to see food and my body as an enemy, despite the two being the reasons I am where I am today. It didn’t help that it was a normal thing where I lived to comment on someone’s weight gain when you first see them in a long time. I was anxious every time I had a gathering, fearing that my body would take up space in the room for everyone to notice. So, I did what I felt was necessary. I hid myself in baggy clothes, covered my cheeks with my hair, exercised intensively, and restricted what I consumed, hoping that I would be enough for the people who saw me.
Things changed when I started losing weight. Everyone complimented me on it, I was more noticed by people, and people would call me beautiful instead of commenting on my size when I haven’t seen them in a long time. I thought that I was finally where I had to be. However, this just perpetuated my need to maintain this image. I did whatever I could to keep this image or even “improve” it so I would still appease everyone around me, including myself. I didn’t realise it took a toll on me physically and psychologically, until I noticed that I was staring at myself in the mirror numerous times a day, I cried whenever I had to eat something where I did not know what ingredients were in it and was always cold and angry due to restricting my eating. I started binging due to the constant hunger I felt, and I did not find joy in food or peace in my body anymore.
It took a long time for me to notice that what I was doing was damaging to my body and my mind. I did not seek help as I accepted that this constant struggle was normal and was necessary for me to be “healthy”. However, I was so miserable every day and I finally wanted to prioritise peace and self-love over needing to look a certain way. I started bringing up my body issues and disordered eating habits in therapy but I didn’t realise that there was so much history to it. I started working on a lot of self-love activities like writing down the things I loved about myself that weren’t related to how I looked, I started eating mindfully to enjoy the taste of food again and learned to find the joy in exercising for the purpose of bringing happiness as opposed to losing weight.
Slowly but surely, I began to feel like my body was a safe haven and that food was something to be enjoyed rather than just a number that I consumed. I still have challenges today where I judge my body based on aesthetics. However, I know now in my core that I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am today without my body which has given me the strength and ability to be where I am today.
For anyone reading this, I know that the battle between yourself and your body can be consuming to the point where you feel like your own body is your biggest enemy. I know that the food you once loved that brought so many memories is now filled with feelings of guilt. I know that stepping on the scale or seeing yourself in the mirror seems like your biggest nightmare. And I know that it feels like this constant battle between yourself and your body will never fade. But I also know that you have the power within you to love yourself unconditionally. I know you have the ability to slowly make peace with your body and food. And I also know that so many people are rooting for you. Slowly but surely, you will find peace in your own skin again.