Weigh Your Words Instead

As soon as my grandmother comes home, my mother reports to her exactly what I had for lunch and breakfast. I am in the opposite side of the house, but the walls are thin enough that I can hear their conversation in the kitchen. It is like this every day, every time I eat: They feel the need to discuss what goes into my mouth. I don’t understand it, and it makes me sick. If I could get by without eating around them ever again, I would.

I want to walk down the hallway and stop in the doorway, to stand there for a minute before they notice I’m there, to say, “You know, I can hear you.” Apparently it’s not enough to have body image guilt tossed at me every time I pass by checkout line magazines, every time I go shopping for a new pair of jeans, every time I find myself wondering mid-workout why I put myself through this. Photoshopped bodies aren’t my biggest concern. The hardest part about loving how I look is dealing with other women.


When I was in eighth grade, I started throwing up. I was running three miles a day, I had stopped eating fast food a year before, and I didn’t care for soda. I didn’t tell my friends, didn’t tell my doctor, didn’t tell my mother. Runners weren’t supposed to have body issues; runners were supposed to be lean and fit and able to eat anything they wanted. The epitome of health. But running wasn’t enough.

I didn’t stop vomiting until a year later, when I was genuinely sick and puking in the school bathroom. Three other girls from my class were standing at the sink, talking. Then they started laughing, imitating vomiting noises, and joking about bulimia while I crouched on the grimy tile and clutched my stomach. My throat burned from rawness, as it did every day, and I felt light-headed. I decided that I’d had enough.


I consider myself a healthy person. I run and bike throughout the year because I like exercise. I’ve been a strict vegetarian for a little over three years, but not for weight-related reasons. I still don’t eat fast food, but I don’t beat myself up if every once in a while I indulge in a doughnut. I just don’t think the amount of time I spend thinking about my health is healthy.


I dread family gatherings, mostly because they always involve eating together. My family usually “forgets” that I don’t eat meat, so I usually end up with a plate of grapes. For the next hour, everyone bugs me about how little is on my plate, how I need protein, etc. And I usually get as far away from everyone as I can because talking about my eating habits makes me suddenly not hungry at all.

Every gathering, weight is the first thing the women talk about. “You’ve lost so much weight,” and “I’ve gained five pounds,” and “I shouldn’t be eating this,” and “I need to go on a diet.” They talk about their weights, and also the weights of women they know who aren’t even around. This is the subject of phone conversations as well. And it comes up if I ever try to watch TV with the family (so I don’t).


My mother has all but stopped eating. She drinks about 16 bottles of water a day because it’ll “flush her out,” and she skips the food because she says she doesn’t lose weight when she eats. I want to tell her that she missed the point, that she’s risking health for a corrupted idea of beauty, but it wouldn’t do any good. I’ve tried this discussion. She tuned me out and returned to her ways.

My friends constantly complain about their weight, and it makes me incredibly upset. I think they’re beautiful. But I think about all of the women I’ve ever met, and not a single one comes to mind when I try to remember one who loved her body completely. And I wonder if this is where body image has gone wrong—not only in the magazines, in Hollywood, or online. It goes wrong in our conversations, in the way we carry ourselves, in how we shame others rather than celebrate the fact that not every female form is the same.



(Reposted on Iamthefbomb.com)

Adriane About Adriane

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