Succumbing to Diet Culture, Having a Toxic Ex Who Encouraged My Starvation, and Learning to Love Myself

By: Zeinah Hesham

You tell me you love that my thighs are thick, yet you are grossed out by women’s bellies. You say that you do not fetishize a woman’s body yet you get turned one when you see a girl with prominent collarbones. You say that women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful yet you cringe at the sight of a woman that has a pretty face but has a double chin. You deny that you’re judgmental but you prefer women with fair skin because they look like your favourite celebrity. You love a girl with an appetite but not when that appetite is shown on her body. How can you ask me to love my body when you ruin every aspect of loving it for me? How can you say you love thick girls when you only mean thick thighs, big boobs and a butt but no arm fat or a double chin or rolls? How can you love a thick girl but not love her cellulite and her stretch marks? 

You want me to love myself on your terms. You want me to love myself only when you love my body, too. You want me to love myself when I’m wearing a dress that hugs my curves but not when I’m wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. You only want me to recover from my disgusting eating habits, when you’ve noticed how much weight I’ve lost and how my curves are minimised. You only want me to love myself when my legs are slim, my stomach is flat and my butt is big. You can’t love me when all of those things are big, too. 

You tell me that my body is beautiful.

You want me to lose weight. I am ten years old. My body is growing. I can no longer fit into any of my jeans, I can only wear baggy leggings and shirts and I feel fat in. It’s now 5th grade and the girl that had a similar body to mine is now skinnier with bigger boobs and everyone is admiring her. Years go by and I keep trying to lose weight but I can’t, my curves are all over the place. My belly is bigger than my boobs and my face is fat and my legs won’t stay the same. It’s 7th grade now, I have my first boyfriend. I’m losing weight. I’m working out and eating healthy. It was the year of when my weight was better, it was a year when I had a lot of attention , it was the year people noticed my body, it was the year I got sexually harassed because of my butt.

I’m in my first serious relationship – it’s the most toxic one that I’ve had. I lose weight all the time because I’m happy enough to not eat. I don’t even realise that I’m not eating because I’m having so much fun but then I do. It satisfies me more and more. I start escaping meals , working out more, hours and hours of exercise, skipping meals. I reach the 50s for the first time, it’s my lowest weight. My boyfriend and best friend know of my anorexia – they encourage me to starve even more. In fact my boyfriend told me he was really happy for me when I first hit 59 kg, he tells me he’s proud of me and I should keep it up. Now, not eating is a choice that I make to lose more weight.

I’m 18, I still struggle. I still have to make choices, I have to listen to myself to eat and be happy despite what that number on the scale says. I have to remember that some people’s words don’t matter. What matters is who I am. You love your body, because it’s yours not because it’s hot. You love yourself because you have a wonderful character made up different traits not because you’re better than someone else. You’re confident because you know that you are not perfect and you never will be but you can try to improve in every way you can and continue to love yourself because of that.

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