PSA & TW: This will talk about eating disorders, none of the diets are recommended and very harmful if used at readers discretion. Please get help if you need, you are not alone.
Recovery in this sense, is not an end goal; the goal of living in recovery is to have few and fewer days between struggling to survive. One of the most difficult parts in healing is admitting there is a problem and as corny as that sounds it is very true. For me and for many others out there.
In my life I can trace it back to grade 4, announcing to my fellow classmates I was going on a diet so I could be skinny just like them. Instantly, or what seemed like it, my elementary school life had changed. I was no longer getting bullied for how my butt wiggled when I walked, the negative labels I was once given were replaced with nice ones. I even had more than one friend. I had gained all of these perks (basic human standards) because of a simple diet. A diet that included me not eating my lunch but ‘sneaking’ it later in the day. That positive reinforcement was all I needed to create a toxic relationship with food and in turn my body and self worth.
Flash forward to adulthood and that little girl who was hiding food had been introduced to keto and excessive working out. Keto would work for anyone if they had enough ‘will power.’ Mix in intermittent fasting and it was a full proof way to become ‘healthier’ with the positive side effect of weight loss. Like promised the weight came off. Naturally the next logical ‘lifestyle’ change was to move to paleo, and monitoring calories to a maximum of 1200. Along with weight loss there were other side effects, the ones diet culture forgets to metchion. I was cold all the time, even in the summer. I was in a mental fog all the time, headaches every single day, irritability, destroying my metabolism and last but not least the amount of guilt and shame that followed after eating deemed unhealthy by diet culture.
Just like in elementary the social and societal benefits were plentiful. On social media so many people were cheering me on, complimenting me on my looks and hard work. I got invited to more parties, and for the first time men would approach me trying to pick me up, offering to buy me drinks. It did not matter how unwell I felt on the inside, because of how I looked on the outside I was seen as a value to society. For physically taking up less space I was allowed more space in other people’s lives.
Eventually I got hungry. Eventually my ‘will power’ and ‘discipline’ failed me. After work I took two loaves of bread from the staff room, brought them back to my desk and ate them both in one sitting as I wrote reports. I had over eaten before but that day was the first of many when I started to binge. At first it was only a weekly thing just making it to the next bread day at school. I would overcompensate by skipping other meals. However all my mind could ever think about was food. When would I eat next? What would I eat next? If any kind of snacks were left in the staff room and no one was around I would stuff my pockets as I ate what was on the table. It eventually branched outside of work too. Hiding and binging food was my new normal. It soon became a comfortable feeling to eat so much that there was pressure on all sides of my belly. That feeling of comfort did not come alone, it held hands with fear. I was scared I was going to gain weight again and be that girl with no friends, and no value. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of strict dieting and binging. With no results of any weight loss my dieting and binging would only worsen.
Naturally I could not keep up. I had gained a lot of the weight back making me obsessed to get that false sense of validation and acceptance back. It was not until I came across an instagram account that I started to notice parallels between our different lives and I started to question. Eventually the people around me started to notice. The one who noticed most along with catching the brunt of my emotional mess was my fiance. Overtime with several failed attempts at being honest with my psychiatrist and doctor I lessened dieting and restricting but was still consistent with binging, hiding, and sneaking food.
Then covid hit, my self-destructive patterns came back and was putting more stress on our relationship than it ever had before. I knew it was not fair to him and it was not healthy for us as a partnership. I had to seek help from professionals. Saying I was scared would be an understatement, I ended up in the Doctor’s office crying as he asked me questions on what I was trying to say. This is just the beginning, and only a glimpse at the memories, thoughts and beliefs I have begun to dismantle in my life.
My story is not much different than most stories in the eating disorder community. Most women can trace their first body conscious memory back to when they were in elementary; and most women, plus size women especially get praised for making unhealthy choices in the pursuit of being thin or “healthy”. This happens because society has conjured up this false narrative that our bodies and we as humans have no value unless we obtain the latest version of perfection. This is vastly untrue and I promise you, your value is not determined by the body you are in.
I met Harley back in November, when she booked her first session with me. This was my first shoot in my new studio and this image above this write up with the robe… is one of my favorite images to date. I have a huge metal print of this one in the studio and everyone just swoons over her. I mean I can’t blame them… just LOOK AT HER. Harley is all sorts of amazing. Flashforward to Feb 2021 and she became a brand ambassador. She was already cheering for every woman like you reading this now and thinking that you can’t do this. The thing is you can. Boudoir is all about body positivity and learning to love your body. I got you boo, join my VIP woman’s only group if your not already and join us each day to empower other ladies around you. Plus sometimes you can win some pretty sweet prizes for just being amazing.