Summertime is hard for those of us with body image issues and eating disorders.
Messages are EVERYWHERE in the media about bodies and food. Lose 10lbs before summer, your best bikini body, best and worst celebrity bodies, even entire issues of magazines dedicated to hundreds of photos of celebrities in bathing suits! There is more talk about losing that “winter weight”, people eat fresher foods and less of the “Comfort foods”. Everyone is more conscious of their body because as the weather warms up, the sweaters and coats come off leaving us open, exposed, visible to all. No more hiding those “problem areas” by carefully selected winter wear, everything is out in the open because putting more clothes on is simply not an option in this heat!
Last year I started recovering and weight-restoring. I was SO self conscious. I was trying my best to embrace the challenge of recovery so I still wore things like tank tops and shorts. A lot of the summer clothes in my closet were sill too big from my last recovery attempt so although I was growing, it wasn’t too painful, I wasn’t that big yet, and I had a measure for what “that big” looked like. Mid-summer I got a new job and spent some money on a variety of skirts, capris and some really cute summer tops – I felt cute and excited to start my new life with my new job, new marriage, new puppy and new lease on my health.
This year is a slightly different story. Over the course of the winter I have continued to grow and no longer fit into any of those cute new clothes I bought. In fact, I’m not even going to go into my old summer clothes and try them on – I know they won’t fit. I havn’t been this size since I was about 16 (11 years ago) and I KNOW I don’t have any clothes for my new body. I have bought a few cute new dresses and skirts which will help but I’m having a hard time letting go of the sweaters. Thankfully it’s cold in my office so it’s not something I have to face daily, but I am having a lot of trouble with short sleeved shirts. I know it’s something I will have to practice and I have been going to yoga with tank tops and t-shirts to help make the transition easier.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have the body that I have. I am treating it right, feeding it properly (not too much or too little) and exercising it regularly (again not too much or too little). I am trying my best to meet my body where it is. I’m trying not to wear tops that are too small that make me overly conscious of my flaws. I am trying to get more comfortable with having my arms exposed so I don’t have to wear a sweater all summer. I am buying new clothes often as my body shifts (mostly at consignment stores so it’s not as expensive) and making comfort key. I am trying to let my body be comfortable, not matter how uncomfortable I feel inside it. I bought a one-piece swim suit (actually I outgrew one so I bought 2) to take the stress off of having to wear my 2-piece.
For now, it is difficult to realize that I can not change or control my body. I mean, yes I COULD but that defeats the whole purpose of recovery. I have to eat and exercise normally and let my body do what it’s going to do! Trying to hide it under big sweaters in 30 degree weather isn’t going to help. Avoiding the things I love (like swimming!) because of my body isn’t going to help. Trying to fit back into my smaller clothes certainly isn’t going to help. Looking at all those body magazines isn’t going to help. Participating in body shaming and fat talk at work isn’t going to help. Avoiding foods because of the effect they may have on my arm fat really isn’t going to help.
NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Centre) here in Canada really hit the nail on the head: “It’s not our bodies that need changing, it’s our attitudes.” I don’t need to fit into those size 2 shorts to be happy, or wear my pretty purple bikini. I don’t need to compare myself with the other summer bodies or start feeling ashamed of the body I have when I’m treating it right. I need to change my point of view and know that although I’m uncomfortable and self-conscious, I can’t let that ruin my summer. I am so much more to those who love me than the body I inhabit, maybe one day I’ll feel the same way.