More of My Story
This post is a work in progress. This is a difficult part of my story that I have to take in pieces, but I want to write about it as it may help others. There is no shame towards any of the people in my life. I understand they had their own trauma, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to share my truth.
TW: Eating disorders, trauma, fatphobia
Let me start by saying, I still struggle with being vocal about this, but the more vocal we are about it, the less the eating disorder can have power over us.
Second thing, to make it very clear, FAT PEOPLE CAN STRUGGLE WITH EATING DISORDERS. That doesn’t mean “binge” eating either. I mean full on bulimia and/or anorexia (classified as atypical even though atypical is more abundant than typical). Eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of size, shape, ethnicity, age, gender identity, etc. It does not discriminate.
I have an eating disorder. I am a fat person with a restrictive eating disorder. Yes, we exist. There are actually many of us, but we do not usually get diagnosed or we deny it because of weight stigma and the portrayal of a young, thin, white, teenage girl. This is negligence and weight stigma.
It took me around 20 years to be diagnosed, only after I came out to a doctor about skipping meals and purging. She assumed binging, but there’s the weight bias in action. (Binging is a sign of restriction and should not be shamed either. Society likes to assume that fat people only binge, which is a false accusation.) I have felt shame around my body since I was in single digits, and I had learned to punish myself for eating.
My family first started making me aware of how “wrong” my body was. I was an active child that liked jumping on the trampoline and playing on the playground, and active in dance class, but that didn’t matter because I was a fat child.
I was given meal replacement shakes and denied foods when I was around 7. I was told that my family member would pay me $1 for every pound I lost. I was told I needed to do crunches instead of playing. I was told I needed to wear girdles (pre-teen through teenager). When I was given permission to eat, I would overeat (primary through elementary school) because I didn’t understand my hunger/fullness cues. This is part of diet culture! If you don’t understand your hunger/fullness cues, you’re going to not know when to eat or how much to eat, especially if you grew up with the “clean your plate” club. I didn’t get to learn mine until recently. I’m in my mid-thirties and just learning my hunger/fullness cues.
At the start of 6th grade (middle school), I started skipping breakfast and lunch regularly. The school didn’t care, and I didn’t need to ask my family for lunch money. I had more time to sit outside for lunch break. It wasn’t long until I started getting hungry after school and at dinner, but if I wouldn’t be allowed to have much dinner if I had something considered a small-meal after school. If I tried to get a night-time snack (I’ve always been a night owl), which was usually a bowl of cereal, I would usually get pig noises made at me by my family. (My family is fatphobic and think that weight is all down to how much you eat, which “everybody knows”. Everybody knows is a load of crap.) After being shamed, I wouldn’t be able to eat due to feeling unworthy of food and mad at myself for being fat, so I would go with out.
Around this time, I learned about purging. If I ate something that made me feel like a failure. I would purge. Anything society deemed “bad” or “not good”. I used this coping mechanism for a while off and on.
Years later (high school), the internet had been around for a bit and I learned of pro-ana/mia sites. These are really bad sites that help with anorexia and bulimia. I learned more “tips” to help fuel my EDs, all while still barely moving the scale down. I had fantasies about being able to cut off my stomach and just remove any fat parts to look like people wanted me to look. In high school, I was in band (marching and concert), and I would play DDR (dancing game), until I reached extreme exhaustion all while still restricting/purging.
Because I wasn’t thin, I was still being regularly shamed by people that should have helped me. While I understand that they have low body image and esteem issues and haven’t dealt with their own trauma, I still needed help. During this time, I was very depressed. I didn’t know what depression was, but in hindsight, it should have been obvious to anyone around me. Dealing with an eating disorder and depression on your own is isolating and excruciating.
When I first got really sick, it took me a few more years to come out about my eating disorder. People, including medical professionals, assumed what my eating habits were instead of asking. When I had a thyroid lab done, the endocrinologist decided he would check me at every appointment for diabetes. I have never been close to having diabetes. (There is nothing wrong with having diabetes, and there should be no shame with the diagnosis or management of diabetes. Every fatphobe likes to throw “diabetes” around when they know nothing about it and don’t understand that it effects people of all sizes.)
When I first came down with fatigue, I was prescribed weight loss (caloric restriction and more exercise) and amphetamines (stimulants), all while I was restricting/purging and overexercising. No one asked about my relationship with food, they all assumed based on my size.
I’ve done a lot of the recovery work on my own and it’s incredibly difficult being a fat person and trying to recover from what “everybody knows” fat people are “supposed” to be doing. Do not listen to “everybody knows”. They are wrong!
Try to work with a Health At Every Size (HAES) dietitian or therapist; some offer sliding scale payments. I know not everyone has access to a dietitian or therapist, and if you don’t, try following HAES providers on social media. It can help with your headspace!
Also, get rid of the scale. It does not provide good feedback and is a way to torture yourself. Ditch it!
New posts to come about the weight equal health myth and how dieting doesn’t work long term for 95% of the population.