Trigger/Content Warning: child abuse, verbal abuse, eating disorders, body dysmorphia
I’d like to thank all of you who commented and tweeted kind and healing words in response to my post the other day about my anxiety about doctor visits and body autonomy. It was a hard post to write and share and it’s been interesting since because it’s sort of opened the flood gates, as if by writing that post I was allowing myself to really look at that trauma and see it for what it was: child abuse.
I’ve decided to share everything I can remember in terms of how my parents modelled negative relationships with food, fatphobia, ignorance around nutrition and a complete obsession with vanity and diet culture. I want to be clear that this is not a ploy for sympathy or validation, but if retelling my horrendous experience can make someone else feel understood or less alone in the way I do by supportive friends and readers, then I absolutely want to do that. Abuse is insidious and tricky, it hides in plain sight because abusers condition those they abuse to normalize their behaviour so it is not recognized as such. I lived in this environment for ten years. Food and body negativity was one of several topics of criticism.
Food was strictly fuel, not something to be enjoyed.
Indulging in foods you loved was rarely acceptable and not celebrated or enjoyed; that was fetishizing and considered an unhealthy attitude
Passive aggressive comments like “Oh, wow, you’re STILL hungry?” or “Do you really think you NEED that?” were almost daily
No eating after 8 pm because sleeping on a full stomach makes you gain weight
Anything “bad” – sugar, fat, carbs – were guilt-laden and had to be exercised off almost immediately as if that’s how nutrition works
Mandatory weekly weigh ins starting at age 8
Injuries, accidents and clumsiness were all results of being overweight
Getting sick was the result of bodyweight because if I was slimmer I’d have a healthier immune system
They decided I had allergies to certain foods as a way of controlling consumption
Food containers would get marked so that it was apparent when things had been eaten
Accusations of eating in secret
Holidays and birthdays were a constant litany of food shame
Comfort food was not a term you could say
Terms synonymous with being overweight: sad, insecure, lazy, weak, low self esteem, giving up, a death wish
At age 10 I was told that later in life (my teens) I could “fix” my belly with a tummy tuck
Others’ successful fitness was a point of frustration – “Why can’t you get yourself under control like them?”
What, how, when and how much I ate was constantly policed
“You won’t have any friends if you don’t lose weight”
“Boys don’t like heavy girls”
“It’s so sad you’re so heavy, you could be so pretty”
When I was 17 I confessed to having been bulimic at 14-15 and they laughed at the impossibility of that because I had never gotten skinny. It was dismissed and called a “failed attempt at weight loss”
There’s more, but you get the picture. To say that I have a fucked up relationship with food and my body is an understatement. All of this occurred from 8-18, just in time for puberty and the onset of sexual identity and it had a colossal impact on my self esteem and human value, issues I’m working on currently, in my mid thirties. I’m learning that this pain is valid and the trauma is yet to be healed. Sharing thoughts, stories, photos and fantasies here is a huge part of that healing and I am unable to articulate my gratitude for this community. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and support.
I feel seen, I feel heard, I feel safe.