I remember it like it was last week. Because it literally was last week.
I was raiding through my sisters newly-extended wardrobe (AKA her overflow into what used to be my wardrobe) for my SQA certificates. So there I was, ankle deep in New Look and ASOS gear, when I found it. When I was 10, my auntie gave me a Winnie The Pooh stationary set and letter-writing kit, and there it was.
I liked writing notes, apparently.
Thing is, when I opened the little box, I found a mound of recorded body measurements. I knew they were there, but I forgot how bloody scary it was. From the age of 10, I’ve had an on/off relationship with eating phobias and been obsessive over my weight.
I remember being a child and measuring my hips, upper waist and ‘muffin top’ area every night. I used to keep track and hide the results in this little box. The body tracking developed into a phobia of eating in public and deliberately putting myself off the food by thinking of anything that would do the trick – the idea of sick, spiders, gorey film scenes etc.
Thankfully, my mum is stubborn as fuck and wouldn’t let it go any further. I was forced to sit at the dinner table until my plate was clear, while the rest of the family went about their nightly routines. So, ultimately, I ate my dinner alone most nights. The only time I really got my way was at school, when I wouldn’t eat all day. I’d have a carton of mango juice in the morning and that was me until dinner time. School actually fed my phobia (pardon the pun) as I was repeatedly reminded of my pale, skinny frame by the girls I was ‘friends’ with. Those same girls started rumours of anorexia, and HILARIOUSLY pointed out my bee-sting tits. HA.HA.HA. OH MY GOD TOO FUNNY AND ORIGINAL…
I remember one day, specifically, when the main one tripped me up outside Tesco – just as I was about to tuck into a jam doughnut. See, if I ate, it was always sugary. Somehow I thought this would keep me going and not faint. So there I was, clutching to my 12p treat, and she trips me. So I go face first, squashing the doughnut in the process. Laughs all round, followed by a brilliant ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry!’ act. Needless to say, I was mortified, so I was quiet. She seen I was embarrassed, and chose her time to say:
‘Not like you were going to eat it, anyway, eh?’
The other girls stayed quiet, which was great and lovely – obviously. Nothing like support from my peers, woop!
The day after that, I left the group.
The thing with eating phobias is that they like to be encouraged. These girls calling me skinny made and ruined my day at the same time. Her squashing my ‘lunch’ probably made me ecstatic. The only way to beat eating phobias and disorder is to remind the individual of their loss of control, which my Gran done superbly. She consistently would say I didn’t look well or good, not in terms of facial appearance but my teenage body was boyish and shit. I developed anaemia from lack of iron, my blood vitals were embarrassing and, at 16, an underlying heart condition became evident through my body struggling to keep up with over-exercising – something I still flirt with nowadays.
I suppose it would be fair to say that I still struggle with this. As I type (at my mums house), I know there’s an exercise chart on my bedroom wall down the road. There’s also post-its with descending numbers on them, which can only be taken down once I reach that weight.* Thinking about it, its bloody hilarious. At 23, I still-sometimes- genuinely believe my body is supposed to be rake thin. But it’s not. It’s just part-time madness.
*A young me got that tip from Portia De Rossi’s book ‘An Unbearable Lightness’, wild.
I eat like a horse now, albeit it’s because I know I’ll burn it off through working on my feet all day. I still deal with anaemia, but that’s not life-shattering. And my tits are still, yes, tiny. But I won’t allow myself to start recording my body again. I embrace the one curve that I have- my arse, and I try my best to stay fit.
I know people will think I was a stupid wee girl who just wanted to be skinny, but this phobia is closely connected to the OCD that I now deal with. OCD demands control of different elements of your life, back then it was eating, and now I deal with it in other ways – another day, though.
I suppose the point of this post is to give a shout out to the girl who tripped me.
I was skinny, yes.
I had an eating disorder, yes.
But you’re now grossly overweight, with like-minded, vicious friends. You’ll always say hello to me in the street, and I’ll always want to kick you in your hairy face.
But it’s all good, because you’ll never squash my doughnut again.
And that’s all that matters.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating phobia or disorder, please seek medical attention. It’s not worth it, and I know it’s not a choice to live with it – but it’s a choice to get rid of it.