Beating ED, eating disorders, overcoming obstacles, Recovery, respect, Uncategorized, women in the workplace

Love Handles

In recovery, one of the hardest things that I have to deal with are comments about my weight. People often mean well, but these ‘observations’ sting, every time with a newfound pain. For me, a part of my eating disorder revolved around other’s opinions. Sure, I purged for myself – desperately clinging on to any form of control, trying to achieve the perfect body. But a massive part of my ED was about how others viewed me. Did they think I was skinny? Did they see the massive whale that I saw in the mirror? Often, if someone would ever compliment my body, I would grab my stomach or bingo wings and exclaim: “What, you think this is beautiful? You need your eyes checked.” Or, I would say nothing. Blush quietly and smile, while the voices in my head twisted their kind words into hateful thorns, pricking me until I bled out.

I have recently started a new job. It totally revolves around teamwork and camaraderie; we all help each other to get the job done quicker. However, last night, something shook me so badly that I am questioning whether to go back. Many of my colleagues are romanian, and they often speak to each other in their language. Last night, someone told me that while I was working, one of my male co-workers called me fat. “Look at that chubby one. So cute.”

Now, to many, that sounds almost like a compliment. ‘He meant it as a joke! Don’t be so sensitive’. But when you have an eating disorder, being called fat, however said, can be absolutely detrimental, both to mental and physical health. I was in the middle of my shift, and I felt like my heart had been shattered with a sledgehammer, the sharp pieces injecting themselves in my lungs, cutting my breath short. I had spent almost three years in fear of this kind of comment. It had finally grabbed me by the hair, pulling with all it’s might. As I carried on my shift, robotic smile sullenly plastered on my face, I realised. As we work, we often give each other small touches on the shoulder or arm to show that we are there for one another. But where does this stop? The male co-worker in question had been squeezing my ‘love handles’, the small area of fat that just spills over my jeans above my hips, every chance he could get. Waiting in line for our orders. Behind the bar, making drinks. As he walked past me. A couple of times, these touches even went below the belt. I put it down to a friendly touch, to let me know he was there. The same way that I touched the girls in the restaurant. But it wasn’t. This comment, paired with the inappropriate touches, could have meant a month of starving myself. I could have run to the toilet and stayed there, making myself puke until I was numb. Or, the suicidal thoughts could kick in. It only takes one comment to send one spiralling.

I talked to my co-workers, who both said that they had experienced the same thing. We all decided to go to the boss, who handled the situation very well. I received an apology, but he will never understand how this will affect me. My superviser couldn’t promise me that he will be fired. I might have to see this man every day until I leave, and leaving now is not an option. Simply, I need the money. Even thinking about seeing him again is putting a lump in my throat. Seeing his best friend, who may or may not know about the situation (they speak romanian, remember?), who may hate me because I got her friend, someone who has worked there for fifteen years, sacked? Honestly, I am shaking.               The manipulation and control of women in the workplace is still happening in this day and age. This fact makes me sick. What makes me even more sick is that if I didn’t have my ED, I would have let the inappropriate touches go. Dismissed them. It was the comment that spurred me into action, and for that I am lucky. However, I now have to go back into work, somewhere that I no longer feel comfortable. Because of one man. Because of a touch. Because of a comment.

These comments, especially in the workplace, have to stop. These touches do not represent camaraderie. They are not nice. We don’t ask for them. We don’t want them. But how can we stop them? I am lucky that I had my co-workers by my side. Many don’t.

It is nearly 2018. When is enough enough?

Beating ED, expectation vs reality, overcoming obstacles, thefatfeeling

The Sisterhood of the Denim Shorts

Summer. Grey clouds making way for clear blue skies. The soft, telltale hum of an ice cream van driving down the road. Hands that are constantly sticky, hot sands burning the bottoms of your feet as you run into silky waters. For some, the long awaited day of results. For others, an opportunity to finally breathe. For most, a time of relaxation and bliss.

However, for a select few, summer is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Summer is a time of fear. The salty sea is riddled with scantily clad girls while tanned, slim bodies cover the sands. There are no baggy jumpers – shorts, crop tops and bralettes replace the acceptable, comfortable and safe uniform that a sufferer may wear. Missguided’s slogan reads: “The Official Babe Uniform”. They boast size 6 models flaunting high-waisted swimwear, tiny hotpants and barely there skirts. My ‘go to” summer outfit is not one of these options. Before I started suffering from an eating disorder, I always wanted to wear the ‘Babe uniform’, however, being the chubby kid, it was increasingly difficult. As I tried on a particularly small pair of denim hotpants, it dawned on me; Society would not allow me to wear such clothes. These shorts were meant for the slim, for the beauties that I saw in the adverts. They definitely weren’t meant for the whale that stared back at me. After I stopped eating and started visiting the toilet after every meal, I was so proud of my body. I had worked hard for it; so much blood, sweat, tears and vomit had gone into making it what it was: an uncomfortable, unnatural size 8. I say ‘unnatural’ because my skeleton is not made to be a size 8. At a healthy weight, I am destined to be a size 12. However, at the time, I simply couldn’t accept my destiny, my skeleton. I wasn’t happy with the way G-d made me. So I decided to change it. A year after the denim hot pants scene, I was sure that the ‘Babe Uniform’ was waiting; and I was ready for it. As I tried on a skimpy size 6 bikini, I realised that it was baggy. Baggy! A surge of relief, gratitude, pride and fear ran through me. I was a SIZE 6! I was a ‘babe’. Only, I wasn’t. I was just a very sick little girl. I was so intent on showing off my body, flaunting my easily visible ribs and taut stomach. I joined the tanned bodies on the beach. However, as I pulled my tight denim shorts over my thighs after a swim in the sea, I realised that I was entirely uncomfortable. My legs were rubbing against the material, my bikini totally soaking them. Apart from the physical discomfort, I felt like a prize pig being sold to the highest bidder. My entire bum was on show, and while I initially enjoyed the attention, the novelty soon wore off. Why are innocent young girls feeling pressured to look like 20-year-old women? I see the adverts for Missguided, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and they all present the same thing. The ‘Babe Uniform’. Then girls, aged 12-18, run to purchase the newest crochet bikini, adorned with a plunging neckline and stringy bottoms. Girls who haven’t even hit puberty, pressured to look like Kylie Jenner, who Instagrams herself in a sheer bra and knickers. She’s twenty years old. Girls of 12, sauntering along in their padded bras, their ‘cleavage’ pressed up against their crop tops, thanks to a religiously followed youtube tutorial labelled: ‘How to get boobs’. What I want to know is; why can’t kids just be kids? ‘A new age’ seemed nice, but as the adults were playing with their nice new iPhones, Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram formed. Technology surged along, and while the kids caught on, the older generation have no idea as to what goes on behind those shiny screens. So, back to my original argument. Summer is now upon us. In fact, it’s nearly over. And although I’m in recovery, I have still found summer painful. Feeling incredibly fat as I wear my flowery dress while my 11-year-old sister models my denim hot pants from the summer before. Seeing young girls soak up the sun as my stomach flips just watching them feel so comfortable. Slowly taking off my dress to reveal the bikini underneath, wondering if the yummy mummies can see my rolls of fat as they tan with impeccably taut skin, fake boobs brimming over their double D cups. How is it that I am bigger than them when they’ve had three children? Now that the end of summer is approaching, I think that I finally understand. It’s because I’m happy. These people spend all of their time worrying about their appearance. I wasted two years. No more.  I will not wear another pair of uncomfortable shorts, another crop top, when all they do is make me feel like a stranger in my own skin. Make me feel a shaking discomfort so huge that it almost claims my entire holiday.

Last year, I wore the ‘Babe Uniform’ because I could.

This year, I refuse to wear them. Because I can.