Two weeks into Lent, I am having nearly 100 percent of my meal plan every day. Giving up restriction has been simpler than I thought. At the same time, it has been miserably hard. Sometimes, I just want to scream and go back to starving myself.
One of the hardest elements is the constant nagging voice in the back of my head. “You are so fat,” it hisses. Anytime that I sit down, see myself in the mirror, look at my body, or feel my clothing on my skin, I feel nauseous. How can I live in this body for the rest of my life?
Therapists and other eating disorder care providers often told me that body image is that last thing to go. Restriction, binging, purging – all of those urges will continue to pop up in life. You might even use those symptoms. However, getting rid of negative body image will take a long, long time.
Why is that the case? Well for one thing, nearly everyone seems to have a warped body image. Women are constantly complaining about their appearance or trying to change something. One hears men whining about this less often, but how many times do you see a man looking enviously at a buffer guy or trying to fit into a muscular, handsome ideal? Females are not the only ones who struggle. Other people are conceited and vain, flaunting their beauty to degrade others.
The media and society also play a role in this. Why is it that we expect women to be perfectly thin but not so thin that bones protrude? Is that even possible? As mentioned above, men also have a high standard to meet – fit, tan, attractive, strong. I wish that we could just see the beauty in each person’s diversity.
Another reason that body image is hard to run away from is that we are stuck with bodies at all times. You cannot escape from your skin. Believe me, I would if I could. However, we must learn to work with and love the body that we have. This is a life-long process for many people.
Although I understand why body image is the last thing to go, the thoughts still cause me great stress. Some nights, I still cry myself to sleep out of despair. How can I hate the vehicle that maintains and transports me? It has been with me at all times and rarely let me down, yet I continue to abuse and hate it. So many of us do that to our beautiful bodies. We must learn to slowly let go of that anger, pain, and perfection by finding other outlets.