In honor of World Mental Health Day today, I want to dive deeper in sharing about my mental health and how it often impacts my physical health.
Growing up, I was made fun of for my body CONSTANTLY. And I still am. I thought that was something I escaped at this point in my life, but at 29, I still get questioned about my body, what it looks like and how much I eat.
When asked questions about my body, I have a tendency to deflect, not want to talk about it, or tell others that this is none of their business. I say this whether it’s family, friends or strangers because it truly is none of their business.
What I’ve noticed however, is that some of my family are the worst offenders of not respecting my boundaries and they are often my biggest bullies, who will try to tell me that everything they are saying is out of love.
Telling someone to eat more because you think they’re too skinny, comparing their body to someone else, asking if they’re sick or if they have an eating disorder, or telling their spouse to pay attention to the signs of anorexia aren’t statements that are said out of love when you don’t know someone’s background with disorders and when you know NOTHING about what their body was like in the past.
When you know nothing about someone’s relationship with their body, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. If you want to ask me how I am, go for it. But if you try to dig to see if something is wrong with me, I will protect myself from you and not trust you.
Growing up, I was always on the smaller side, I’ve generally been slim and have a tendency to lose and gain weight pretty easily. It’s only been in the past two years that I’ve been the same size, and I’ve received lots of statements of concern from my family who love to state their opinions, even though I’ve been living my best life and my doctors are impressed by how healthy I am.
I’m tired of justifying my weight and my eating habits. I’m tired of eating extra in front of people to prove that I have an appetite and that I eat. The people who are saying things “out of love” fail to realize that I’m tired of the bullshit of fitting into what others are comfortable with when it comes to my own body.
For 29 years, I’ve been told by others that I’m too skinny. And when I’d gain weight, I was told I gained it and needed to lose it. Or I was told that I wouldn’t be able to fit into my clothes. After going home recently, the joke was that I was so small my clothes would be too big to fit me.
When I was a kid, I would take the jokes that I had no curves or that I was a rail with a smile and then go into the bathroom and cry while looking at myself in the mirror. I would cry about how skinny I was, I would cry because I wanted to gain weight. I was disgusted in myself because of others opinions of me and was ashamed of my size.
It took a long time for me to get comfortable with looking at myself in a mirror and truly loving what I saw. It wasn’t until I got active and moved my body that I started to find a newfound appreciation for my body and it’s strength. I became proud of how far I could run, how flexible I became and how fast I am.
It’s a huge slap in the face when people try to tell me how my body is “supposed” to look, based on how it use to look in the past. My family is so surprised by my weight now and they fail to recognize that while I am a different size now, the size they saw me at in the past was due to depression. I wasn’t sleeping and I had really dark thoughts. All they saw was the smile on my face so they assumed I was okay, when in fact, that was the point in time when I was at my worst and thinking about causing the most harm to myself. At that stage in my life, I wasn’t willing to look at myself in the mirror. I was going through the motions of life like a robot.
I no longer have the energy to defend or justify my weight. I no longer have the patience to take on other people’s crap about my own body. Weight can fluctuate, and yes people can have good intentions, but please know that intention can still cause harm. If you see that someone has been the same size over a sustained period of time and they have been told by their doctors that they are incredibly healthy, leave them the fuck alone and let them live.
Stop trying to play doctor and add a diagnosis when you know nothing about their past. I grew up with a fucked up mentality about weight and have been in therapy for over 10 years reconciling the concerns others had about my body with my own thoughts about my body.
I am far more concerned about what I think about my body than about what others think about my body. And I love my body! I actually look at myself in the mirror now with pride and check out my muscles that I’ve gotten from running and yoga.
I see the girl that use to cry in the mirror, now smile when she sees herself, and I’m not allowing anyone to take that away from me. So if you have concerns about my body, keep that shit to yourself because I don’t need it, but thank you anyway.
How do you approach statements made about your body? Do you face them head on, or do you take them with a grain of salt?