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MHM : Body Image

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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 17th, 2021 5:12:14pm
2,766 Posts

 

Hello, my lovely HP'ers! This week I want to talk about Body Image. This has been a topic that I've seen pop up a LOT lately and I feel like it's really relevant to speak about. So, to start.. I'm gonna open up and share a bit!
 

Trigger Warnings : mentions of Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphia, Body Image, Body Talk, etc.  

 
 

So, many of you know me- some may not. Hi, I'm Skyler also known as Sat! And I have struggled with Body Dysmorphia and Eating Disorders from a young age. While my experiences may not be as severe as others, I think that it still helps for me to share my story. So that you know that you are not alone regards of size/shape. We are all in this together! 

 
So, I was one of the "lucky" ones. I was born tall and pretty small? I am 5'11' and currently I weigh around 160ish? Maybe currently. Which is within the healthy range for my height/BMI. Throughout late Highschool and Early college - I "proudly" weighed in at 110, max 115. And I still thought that that was not good enough. Because IMG modeling required me to be smaller. If I wanted to get signed - gotta be smaller. (This was years ago before the new Body Positive Campaign became a thing). So que the not eating, withholding food, binge eating when I did eat, overexerting myself with work outs.. just all around very unhealthy habits. 
If you like seeing photos: 
This is a comparison of me Junior Year of Highschool to Junior Year of College : https://i.imgur.com/bMFw3zo.jpg
Sophomore Year of College, our spring formal : https://i.imgur.com/71iH9GZ.jpg
Sophmore Year of College, summer break : https://i.imgur.com/KcGaZmO.jpg
Me now - Disney this summer : https://i.imgur.com/Ohw0Ldg.jpg
Me now - just a few weeks ago : https://i.imgur.com/I1Z7uJU.jpg

 
Now, some of you may look at this and go "Sat.. you were skinny.. you still are skinny.. how could you possibly understand what I'm going through?!" Because while you may not see the difference - I do. I see the girl that was so depressed, starving, weak .. blacking out because I hadn't eaten in so long. Dizzy because I was hungry. I see the girl whose self worth was wrapped up in the number in the scale. The sunken in eyes, the dark circles, the bruising from being unhealthy, the sickness. 
But now - partly thanks to my lovely wife's support - I am happy. I am healthy. I am recovering! I still have my bad days. Just last week I caught myself withholding food again and I was open with my wife. She encouraged me to continue eating and helped me with getting/preparing my comfort foods that I can eat even on my worst days. 

 
Hi, I'm Skyler. I'm 5'11". I weigh somewhere around 160/165. I actively don't check the scale often. I check in with myself. I am happy. I am healthy. I take up space - I have stretch marks. I have cellulite. I have a body that has carried me up mountains, through forrests, down streams and lakes. I take up space and THAT IS OKAY. IT IS OKAY TO TAKE UP SPACE. 
Every day is still a challenge while I'm in recovery. But that is okay. Because at the end of the day I am happy and healthy and doing okay. 

 
 

So, you know part of my story now. You know why I understand. Because I've been there too. You are not alone. It is okay for you to take up space. And if your journey is a weight loss journey .. I'm proud of you! But do not starve yourself love. It is okay to eat. Your body needs fuel to work! And it is okay to reward yourself for hardwork. 

If you need encouragement, I'm here. If you need someone to listen, I am here. If you need someone to give advice, I am here. 
But - if you prefer other methods .. here are some links : 

Some affirmations with calming music - https://youtu.be/wFnhhAwzy-M

A TedTalk that I LOVE -Body Positivity or Body Obsession? Learning to See More & Be More : https://youtu.be/uDowwh0EU4w

Need some hotlines? 

National Eating Disorder Association :



  1. Online chat

    ONLINE CHAT


    Monday—Thursday 9am—9pm ET


    Friday 9am—5pm ET




  2. Call NEDA's eating disorders helpline

    CALL


    (800) 931-2237


    Monday—Thursday 11am—9pm ET


    Friday 11am—5pm ET


    Translation services are available on the phone.




  3. Text NEDA's eating disorders helpline

    TEXT


    (800) 931-2237


    Pilot hours: Monday—Thursday 3pm—6pm ET


    Standard text messaging rates may apply.







 


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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 17th, 2021 5:12:39pm
2,766 Posts

I hope that this helps! ♥ You are not alone. 




 

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NEKE ♥ here lies a monster
August 17th, 2021 6:30:25pm
9,886 Posts

♥♥♥ This is an amazing subject to bring up.


My weight is a huge struggle and while I don't quite have the strength to speak of my own issues, I love that this community is so good to talk to about it.




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utakata - 🌟 -{main; dwbs}- - hard words are for fools and cowards
August 18th, 2021 2:36:18am
694 Posts

-creeps in- I'm joining the ".. you were skinny.. you still are skinny.. how could you possibly understand what I'm going through?!" club. And for anyone uncomfortable with mentions of ED and mental health, you might wanna skip through.

So, through my teenage years I suffered from a chronic illness that left be predominantly housebound - and most of that was spent in bed or on enforced rest. The prospect of returning to college part-time in my late teens was daunting; little autistic me had never known how to interact with people successfully at the best of times and after several years of almost complete isolation from my peer group, that wasn't any easier! So, I looked at the girls who'd been popular when I'd been at school- they were thin and pretty. 'Simple', I figured.

Thus started a 5 year eating disorder that saw me almost hospitalised on numerous occasions (honestly the therapist I was working with was a saint as he actively tried to keep me out of inpatients; having previously been a psychiatric nurse in the inpatient facility I would've been sent to, let's just say he didn't think it would suit me).

This is a story that is in no way unique to me. It seems to be almost becoming the norm for people, regardless of age or gender, to live with an enormously warped view of what it is to be considered attractive. Social media can do some wonderful things and bring people together; but it can also be incredibly harmful. Perhaps the most difficult thing is that, when I was massively underweight and living in a permanent state of semi-starvation, I was essentially rewarded for my eating disorder by all my peers telling me how much they wished they looked like me; how they coveted my skinny, weak legs or hollow stomach. I'd tell them that I was unhealthy; but that didn't matter.

And because of that, I 100% recognise that I've been given an 'easy ride' in many ways by society; as unhealthy as I might have been at points, I 'fit' the desired mould. Very few people ever questioned my body bar my closest family except when my weight dropped below the 'perfect' point (which is alarmingly low).

People just don't recognise that it's entirely possible to be undernourished and in a state of semi-starvation without being thin, resulting in so many eating disorders slipping quietly gnawing away at individuals without anyone noticing.

Now, fashion and social media *are* starting to move slightly away from the emaciated model; though underweight 15 year olds still seem to be the norm in 95% of mainstream fashion houses and the new 'tiny waist; extreme curves' standard being seen all over social media isn't necessarily any more natural or healthy for the vast majority of people to achieve. At the same time, men are being increasingly objectified and pressurised to be ever bigger, stronger, fitter. We seem to be moving backwards rather than forwards across the board and regardless of gender, and it worries me.

I'm kinda okay now. I have one heck of an appetite and am a raging chocoholic. I relish food rather than being terrified of it. I'll never be able to stop mentally counting calories; but it doesn't limit me as it once was. That said, periods of time out from my incredibly physical job do tend to see the old insecurities creeping back in; so I know I'm not 100% in the clear yet.

This is just my story and my view. And so many people have so many different experiences of this issue; I can't come close to claiming to understand every perspective. But I absolutely do empathise and relate with the body image struggle.




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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 18th, 2021 1:47:11pm
2,766 Posts

Sending you love, Neke. And when you are ready to speak, I'm always here for you! 

Uta - wow! You should have written this article this week. That was so eloquently put and well said! Thank you for opening up and sharing. You are 100% right. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done surrounding body positivity regardless of age, gender, any of it. Everyone can be battling this silent battle. I'm with you! 




 

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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 19th, 2021 11:19:19am
2,766 Posts

I forgot to link the anonymous vent google form! So here it is : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VLlaQRBXSE4QzFZGC1b-xzzF4MEWpaXj0FkNO1toYVo/edit




 

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𝒥ax ♡ wants your htix! support project NEON! ♡
August 19th, 2021 12:02:34pm
1,321 Posts

CW // self harm, gender dysphoria, bulimia 


 


Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories so far--I see your struggles. You're not alone.

So much of my body image issues are intrinsically tied to my gender dysphoria. I started feeling "wrong" in my body when puberty hit. When the boobs and curves came in. The thick thighs, the "baby birthing hips" everyone just loved to make remarks about. I didn't know why it all felt so wrong, but I hated every glimpse at the mirror. When my middle-school boyfriend told me he thought he might be gay, I looked at my own body and desperately wished it looked like what he wanted. I started to make tiny cuts on my thighs where they overflowed my chair when I sat. On my belly to punish each little roll. I didn't fully understand why I needed to be thinner, to be more androgynous, but I had to. And fast.

Que a gnarly eating disorder that carried me from my early teens all that way to. Well. Now, if I'm being totally honest. I attended a boarding school for my junior and senior years of high school which made it all the easier. I would go all day and only eat a protein bar and then over-exert myself at the gym to force myself to puke up whatever little amount I had gotten into my stomach that day. I went from 210 lbs to 135 lbs, and despite being constantly weak, hungry, and exhausted, I finally started to sort of like my image in the mirror. I started to look less "feminine", more angular and sharp. 

This continued into my college career, but it was harder to manage because I didn't want my friends to know. I subsisted on small salads, single pieces of toast, the occasional protein shake. My friends just thought I was super health-focused and I let them believe that. 

I took my first gender studies class toward the end of my sophomore year of college, which was incredibly eye-opening. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about queer theory, specifically pertaining to the queer body. I devoured as much literature as I could. I began to unlearn my toxic mindset of equating "thin and androgenous" with masculinity. With time, (and therapy) I grew to understand that my body exists outside of gendered norms and that my weight is not tied to my gender identity. I exist in a non-binary body with all its curves and softness.  

It's still a struggle. I have to remind myself every day that my identity is valid when my brain tells me otherwise. I still plan on getting top surgery one day, but I've grown to like my thick, strong thighs and my soft tummy. Every couple of months or so, I'll eat a little too much and force it all back up. Immediately regret it. Talk about it with my therapist the next day. Recovery is rarely ever linear. 

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening to my rambling. If you ever need an ear, especially about queer and trans issues, I'd love to listen. Huge thanks to Sat for creating a safe space for this sort of dialogue!! xx




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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 19th, 2021 2:04:43pm
2,766 Posts

Jax, I just want to say that I am proud of you and you are so so valid and valued!! Thank you for being brave to share your story with us! ♥ I completely get existing on minimal meals and letting friends think you're just health conscious. That's what I did. Tiny bowls of yogurt and granola - half of a half of a sub sandwich sometimes - and then other times I'd binge a pizza with them when they'd get suspicious. I get it. But I'm proud of you for learning to love yourself too! There is nothing wrong with having a meal and enjoying it! Our bodies were meant to have some soft edges and that is okay! You are also absolutely right that recovery is not linear. It's a daily battle - and that is also okay. 




 

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NEKE ♥ here lies a monster
August 21st, 2021 6:18:00pm
9,886 Posts

Jaxxxxx. I am so glad you found a class that was able to help you - and that with your studies, therapy, and everything you can be who you are meant to be.  Please do correct me if I ever misgender you, but I have been trying to use they a lot more as I have many trans friends and it such a difficult journey for them ♥


.


And now, I'm going to share, because.  You all are so brave.   And...  Well, I've type this like 4 times this week?


Body image is a very difficult topic for me. 


I remember being a kid, hanging out with all my cousins, and them all looking different.  Ony my moms side they are all tanned, thin, blue eyed peoples with straight blonde hair.  On my dads side they are primarily thick wavy haired brunettes, with brown eyes, dark skin naturally, and very muscular.  Meanwhile, I am a fat girl, who is 4 inches taller than all my female cousins and the same height as my male cousins (or within an inch), who has hazel green eyes, pale ass skin, freckles, and curly ginger-copper hair.


Buuuuuut I am also morbidly obese.  And I have been since I was a child.  And nobody else in my family is much beyond "a bit chubby".


The thing is...
I eat a healthy diet (approved by a nutritionist, even). 
I work out (5 times a week!). 
I ride horses, and play soccer, and play volleyball, and my job is rather physical 90% of the time.


Physically speaking, I should weigh around 150-170 lbs - my doctor indicates it'd be a bit higher because of my musculature.  Instead, I hover between 275- 300 lbs.  I am 5'6" (yeah, my family is tiny).


The reason?  I have both Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
LINKS TO INFO: shorturl.at/quLNP && https://www.thyroid.org/hashimotos-thyroiditis/


I was diagnosed about 9 years ago with thyroid issues, because I had miscarried a child.  We were looking into my hormone levels, and something was flagged.  After discussions in regards to a variety of things from my daily schedule, to eating habits, to how my weight had progressed over the years, they deemed my thryoid unfit for surgical removal, but bad enough to medicate.  3 years ago I was told I have PCOS as well.


Both of these illnesses involve weight gain, and difficulty with weigh loss.  They also involve gaining weight prior to puberty with a dramatic increase around puberty and for about ten to twelve years after as hormones fluctuate and settle.  There's a host of symptoms, a host of problematic interactions (some thyroid meds make the cysts worse), and a severe lack of easy fixes.  


The part related to my weight?  I am never hungry - but nor am I ever full.  My metabolism moves incredibly slow and slows down further during the winter.  I am almost always fatigued.  I get sick incredibly easy.  My cycle is both incredibly painful and involves a lot of bloating and other issues.  There's a lot more - hair loss, depression, infertility, etc.


So now I am diagnosed, and working towards being healthy.


The body image issue is this:
When I went through puberty, I gained weight monthly and became fatter each month.
As a result, I was not only teased at school, but I was bullied and there were threats.
I stopped eating in front of the other kids, and started giving my lunches away.
I stopped eating breakfast at home because "my lunch was too big".
And I was told that I clearly must be lying about what I was eating at/after school or I wouldn't be so big.
Because when taken to a doctor, they told my mom I had to be lying.
So I was told that after school each day I was to walk a certain amount of laps around our house or I was not allowed supper.
I learned how to push food around on my plate, rather than eat it.
I learned that a granola bar and a few bites of supper was enough if I drank lots of water.
I learned other things too... nobody wants the fat girlfriend in school, nobody wants to play soccer with the fat kid, horses don't run as fast with fat riders, clothes don't fit fat people, fat people aren't bisexual, etc.
So I stopped. 
Eating.  Socializing.  Sports.  Talking.
And when I was still fat...
I stopped wanting to live.
It went down a dark path after that - which I won't discuss much, because I'll get sidetracked.


Years later, therapists later, different doctor diagnosis' later... it's hard to forget being a preteen and walking in the cold, in circles around a house or the shop, with sweat dripping down your back, because your doctor told your mom that you were clearly lying about what you'd eaten and you just needed to "try a little harder".  It's hard to forget looking at food and salivating, but drinking water instead.  It's hard to forget chewing on something delicious just to spit it back out because "you need the caloric deficit."


(I would like to clarify that my mother and father took me to multiple doctors.  However, it took years and me miscarrying for the right tests to be done.  Also, on the laps note - I was having so many health issues from gaining weight quickly, and the doctor kept telling my mom I needed more exercise/less food.   The doctor told her that getting me to walk would help, and not allowing me to overeat if I'd eaten a lot that day would help.  I lied and said I was eating when I wasn't - I was 12, fat, and wanted desparately to be thinner.)


So. I hate the me that I see in the mirror.  When the scale goes up I am inconsolable in my upset and will get so anxious and tearful that I physically am sick.  I often struggle to eat because I cannot eat in front of people without anxiety, and anxiety makes me sick, so then I'm no longer hungry.  The same goes for exercising.  And worse... I have developed a complete and utter distrust of physician's.  After being told for most of my life that I was lying/not trying/fat because of something that I was doing... I just can't trust or want to be around them.


I am what I would call "working on it". 
I don't cover mirrors anymore - but I also still avoid them.
I wear clothes that are nice - but I hate shopping and make my friend do it (♥ her).
I can eat if I trust people - but sometimes I will have to leave the room because I get nervous
I play sports again - though sometimes afterwards I cry, or before I get so anxious that I cannot.


I am trying very hard not to hate my body, every day.
I am trying, every day, to not be angry that I have these two sicknesses.


But at least I'm trying!


 


 


 




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utakata - 🌟 -{main; dwbs}- - hard words are for fools and cowards
August 21st, 2021 6:55:12pm
694 Posts

Oh Neke.


Your experience with school and doctors sounds so familiar to me; only I was 'lucky' enough to be diagnosed with my illness at 14, 5 years after I began to show symptoms. There's nothing like the patronising, holier-than-thou air that some medical professionals get when they just refuse to believe you; or reduce all the issues that one is feeling to a single, simplistic factor, and I'm so sorry that you've had to live through that for so very long.


When the very people who are meant to be helping us, healing us and building us up are the ones disbelieving us, questioning our every word and scrutinising our every behaviour as if we're not to be trusted to know when our own bodies are going so very wrong, it is just incredibly damaging.


I'm so glad that you finally have some answers.


 


 




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Eyre ⋄ thru it all, my eyes are on you
August 22nd, 2021 12:07:00am
8,285 Posts

First of all, this is a very big, sensitive topic for a lot of people with and in Western societal influence(s). Thank you, all for being open and honest about this gnarly and complicated inner struggle. It's something I, too, experience but haven't quite found the right vocabulary and words to explain/discuss. 


I admit, I skimmed through your stories, not out of dismissal but because I am so easily triggered into comparing my struggles against another's; I often find and judge myself not worthy enough to struggle with diagnostic labels or conditions because I don't have x,y,z element in my story or was never x,y,z of something or the other. My biggest fear is that someone will affirm that I am not "enough" in any way or regard; and I say "affirm" because the dialogue in my head already jabs its haughty finger at me, most of the time, anyway. 


Thanks for mentioning trigger/content warnings; I understand all that/those struggles; eating disorder(s), self-harm, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive personality disorder = me too. I'm at a point where I'm starting to notice so much brain fog while trying to carry out my new job duties due to the havoc to which I've subjected my body - memory loss, concentration difficulties, black-and-white/all-or-none thinking, more ritualistic thinking patterns and/or behaviors; Neke, I get the whole feeling like "my body is betraying me" thing when you feed yourself less and still gain weight; I am told it is a sign of the degree of malnutrition my body is in and I can say it is the most devasting, mind-boggling occurance ever. I realize I am not as young as I was in college, but I don't understand why my body won't respond to deprivation like it used to; it becomes another reason to flay myself, so to speak; I've done the whole gambit of weight gain from medication side effects that I wasn't aware would happen, even whilst they were helping the darkness clear; 


The reason I picked the name "Eyre" for a player name was from connecting and identifying with the character of Jane Eyre in Charlotte Bronte's novel of the same name. From a lonely, abandoned and frightened girl of childhood to becoming a woman of great confidence and independent will and spirit and strength, I saw much of myself in young Jane and admired more in adult Jane. I re-read the novel almost every year to remind myself of the possibility and potential I have within myself to exude her character in more ways than one.  {...and just like that, Eyre's train of thought is lost....but I did want to say a humble thank you for each of your voices defying those demons and monsters that threaten to overwhelm and for sharing yourselves with us/me.}




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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 23rd, 2021 11:47:07am
2,766 Posts

Neke, Uta, and Eyre - I'm proud of you and thankful for you sharing your stories and trusting this space enough to share your stories! 
You have each been through so many adversities. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to have doctors call you a liar when you were struggling and doing your best. I cannot begin to imagine being forced to walk laps or miles and how dehumanizing that must have felt when you were already so tired from the lack of nutrition. 
Eyre, it is perfectly okay that you only skimmed! I know that sometimes re-reading stories that deal with something you struggle with can be difficult and potentially triggering. So, do not apologize for protecting yourself!
Neke - I also have PCOS. You are not alone. 

I would just like to say to each of you that you are enough. You are valid and valued. You matter and you are important. You are each beautiful or handsome! And I'm proud of you because every day you wake up and you do your best and that is all that matters. Please know that I am ALWAYS always here for each of y'all! 

And if you haven't heard it today - I love you. I am proud of you. Please drink some water and if you can, please eat a meal. It is okay to give your body nurishment! 




 

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NEKE ♥ here lies a monster
August 23rd, 2021 12:25:52pm
9,886 Posts

@Uta; Honestly, it had me go down the path towards suicide.  I was telling them something was wrong, being ignored.  I was so sick all the time, so exhausted, and trying to eat healthy/workout on top of feeling so gross and tired?  It was awful.  I hit low and kept falling.

@Eyre; It honestly is just a mind mess up when these things happen and you're trying so hard.  ♥

Sat, you are, as always, amazing.




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goose 🍓 main| new layout
August 26th, 2021 7:49:31pm
148 Posts

Wow. I am a huge fan of this community. I am also non-binary, Jax! I related SO HARD to your post that my own would sound like a re-read. Glad we all have found our own ways of dealing with our unique (and, in that way, similar!) traumas; and further, that we have others to lean on for support.




 

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Content Moderator Saturnia 🖤
August 27th, 2021 9:58:44pm
2,766 Posts

Thank you for supporting my MHM posts goose! ? 

I'm always here for you if you need someone! 

neke - I can say the same for you! ??




 

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NEKE ♥ here lies a monster
August 28th, 2021 12:07:59am
9,886 Posts

Daw, thanks Sat




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