So, my brother has to gain weight. Literally. His doctor told him so yesterday. He laughs at this. Jokes that now it’s time to get yoked and start putting on muscle. Starts shoveling down cookies because he can.
My brother is my best friend. He’s always been thin as a rail. It’s just how his metabolism works. I’m not jealous, simply because I recognize that I have stubborn, but beautiful boobs and an ass that prevent me from having a gaunt look. I also have a muscular frame due to years of doing every sport and physical activity imaginable. But, I am intrigued by his response to this news.
In the past, the idea of gaining weight seemed unfathomable. No matter what number flashed back to me on the scale, it was never too low, and even thinking about it inching any higher sent me into a tailspin.
I distinctly remember the first time I weighed over 100 lbs. That was exciting for me. I was thin and tiny as a child; most of my friends were more developed, and I felt too skinny around some of them. I hit puberty around 14. Then, my breasts grew (what seemed to be overnight), my hips emerged, and my feminine features arrived. I was no longer an underdeveloped little girl. I was (gasp) becoming a woman?
That’s probably when the eating disorder pathology started. It’s a slow progression. Nobody just meets the criteria overnight. It starts as a casual diet, a controllable choice, a “project” of sorts. I just needed to lose 10 pounds. Or so I thought. I started writing down what I ate. Started exercising for reasons other than enjoyment. I was convinced I needed to lose weight. Convinced that when my body became perfect, I would find the perfect boyfriend. Convinced that a perfect body would make me popular and fit in with the girls I desperately wanted approval from. I just needed a perfect body, and I acted as if this was an achievable feat!
Eating disorder intervention really needs to start in elementary school and junior high. That’s when our bodies start changing. That’s when appearance and fitting in becomes a top priority and dating becomes equally important. We need education and support. It’s not just about positive body image; it’s about teaching young children how to accept themselves, how to ask for help when they feel alone, how to reach out and seek guidance when they are struggling, how to nourish and take care of themselves in healthy and fulfilling ways.
So, back to my brother. He has to gain weight. Many people would kill to be in his position, but really, he’s just annoyed. This is unintentional. He does not want to be underweight. It just happened that way. He’s very active at his new job, and this sudden spike in physical movement caused him to lose some weight. So, he just has to eat a little more. What a simple remedy. At one point, I would have killed to be told that I just needed to gain some weight by a medical professional…I would have finally felt “sick enough.” I would have finally felt like I was pretty and pure enough.
I am not a little girl, and my body reflects that. I never want to be told I have to gain weight. I am not in a position right now where I could handle being told that I need to lose weight, either. I am grateful for the body I have. It is not perfect, but if I could go back and tell my adolescent self, I would tell her that she will fall in love multiple times, create amazing and genuine friendships, and live a happy and whole life…no matter what her body looks like.
It wouldn’t have made sense then, though, because it’s only starting to make sense now. I am proud of my body, but it does not define me. With my eating disorder, it did. With my eating disorder, my body was all that mattered, and if something adverse happened, it had to be because of my weight, size, or what I ate that day. I couldn’t accept that there were things beyond my control. I couldn’t accept that maybe some people just didn’t like me…and it wasn’t due to my body. Some things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to…and it wasn’t due to my body. My feelings weren’t where I wanted them to be…and it wasn’t due to my body. My body was just the force that took the beating. I blamed it for anything and everything.
I no longer do that. My body may not be perfect, but it is close. I only have one, and for today, I choose to RESPECT and LOVE it for all its beauty and miracle.