Aficionado

I was in a pretty dark place when I wrote yesterday’s post, and I want to thank everyone who reached out to me. You guys are #1, I genuinely appreciate your willingness to help me re-center, find my strength, and resort back to my default mode, which is complete badassery. Additionally, I didn’t expect the content I share here to be received so positively. So thank you guys.

My Anorexic Mind would claim that what happened yesterday as a “binge episode.” However, my Logical Mind recalls that a binge episode is classified by the consumption of a large amount of food (8,000-10,000 CALORIES) within a short amount of time (less than 2 hours). Since today I’m in a place where I am primarily employing my Logical Mind, I can give a more objective post-hoc analysis of my experience.

Realistically speaking, I probably consumed 300-500 extra calories, or two servings of really grainy cereal, my favorite thing to binge on. We eating-disordered people, we tend to memorize nutrition facts. I could accurately report to you the nutritional content of virtually any food with a label; I spend an obscene amount of time researching foods before they even enter my mouth. Annoying, right?

Anyway, it seems that I had what physicians are calling a “Subjective Binge Episode.” dun dun DUN.

Basically, a subjective binge episode varies from an objective one in the amount of food consumed (objective binge episodes involving the consumption 5-15,000 calories, which exceeds daily recommended intake for both males and females). However, both types have the commonality of feelings of lack of control during the binge, which I completely identify with.

My weight has significantly increased since yesterday (I’ve weighed myself thrice), so that’s something I’ve got to cope with today, in addition to beginning research for a literature review on the pharmacological treatments of eating disorders.

Let’s get to the point of today’s post: Pro-Anorexic content.

I spent a couple of hours browsing through the world of blogging last night, eagerly searching for the most effective way to compensate for the extra calories I had had (I hate that had had makes sense in the English language-another topic for another time), and I was appalled by the myriad #thinspo, self-starvation content that I found.

It was addicting. I couldn’t stop reading pro-Ana blogs, looking at “thinspo” images of thigh gaps, rib cages, and hollow cheeks. These images were often accompanied by slogans such as “Skinny girls don’t eat” or “Starve, bitch, Starve.”

Before I knew it, I was researching diet pills. I was contemplating self-induced vomiting. I was eagerly perusing blog after blog of anorexics sharing their foolproof tricks to keep themselves from eating. I told myself that I could do that, too. I could live off black coffee and water. I could run six miles tomorrow. I could do it, I WOULD do it, and I certainly would not allow myself to binge ever again. I was right back where I started seven years ago, when I opened the door for Anorexia, took her coat, and invited her to stay a while.

I am PLEADING with those who propagate pro-Anorexia content, please cease. Get help. See a therapist. The content you post is triggering the delicate-willed like myself, and undoing all of the progress I have made toward living a normal life without disordered eating and body dysmorphia. More importantly, you are hurting yourself. Not only are you catalyzing eating disordered behavior in others with this content, you are empowering yourself to continue down a road that leads to one sole destination; self-destruction. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of ANY psychiatric disease, and damn it, being thin at the cost of your life is. not. worth. it.

Then again, I was a pro-anorexia girl once.

I am making myself crazy with all of this. I am so distressed and so anguished that eating disorders are so damn prevalent and that I keep relapsing, falling prisoner to this disease that causes so much cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and significant decrease in self-worth. I would give anything to be cured, if such a thing is even possible.

On the other side of the coin, I am so distressed and so anguished by any sign of weight gain, no matter how small. I am so anxious about food, and I feel as though I am unable to direct my thoughts to where I want them. I am not the sole pilot of my brain. I need to feel in control.

It’s as if there’s a throw down between my Anorexic Mind and my Logical Mind, but my Anorexic Mind has a mean left-jab, and my Logical Mind lacks the ability to defend itself from invasion.

Who will win?

Oh, and to the asshole who told me last year that eating disorders aren’t ‘real disorders,’ please reevaluate your claim, or at least back it up empirically.  

M. 

 

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Eupepsia

It has acutely come to my attention that there is a subdivision of psychology devoted entirely to food and peoples’ relationship with it. They (the governing body of all things psychological, I suppose) have creatively named it “Food Psychology.”

I’ve been desperately searching for tried and true tricks to intervene before I subject myself to a situation like the episode I had last week, and the psychodynamic side of me feels that searching for the origins of my peculiar relationship with food would be helpful in selecting an effective treatment, because, frankly, I’m done being the kind of weirdo whose biggest concern is what she is going to eat today and lives in constant fear of losing control of the abundance of food around her. It’s time to be a different kind of weirdo.

In the beginning, I was a chubby kid. I loved KFC and pasta with parmesan cheese, sue me. It just so happened to deposit itself right on my abdomen. I was a hopelessly picky eater, and refused to eat all things produce and lean protein. Though my parents never said anything, I could sense their concern-even from a young age. I was NOT a happy camper. Ever. Still to this day, you can see the sadness in my eyes in the sparse stack of photographs from my youth. I didn’t like me, and lived in a constant state of self-consciousness, always trying to make myself disappear, though not through starvation means quite yet, which would account for the sparse stack of photographs from my youth.

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In the interest of time, let’s jump forward to adolescence; everyone’s favorite life stage. Moderate body dysmorphia is relatively common among young teenage girls, but what I experienced fell far outside of the bell curve. I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t self-conscious, but my early teenage years were certainly the most severe in this regard. It was at this time in my life that I had finally gained the motivation to transform myself into the only thing that I thought could make me happy-skinny.

As soon as I turned 13, I signed myself up for a calorie counter account, and began logging every bite. Anorexia had reduced my calorie intake to a mere 250 calories per day, and my diet consisted mostly of baby carrots and a fourth of a cup of Multigrain Cheerios.I weighed myself seven, eight, nine times per day. The rapid weight loss was energizing-I was above hunger, above the need for food. I was strong and I was beautiful. And people were noticing. I was 5’2, and 72 pounds.

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My eyes had sunken in, my hair had thinned, I had constant goosebumps, and every vertebrae on my back was both visible and palpable. I remember making my own mom cry one day when she accidentally walked in on me changing my shirt.

The folks dragged me to therapy, but my therapist left a bad taste in all of our mouths, so I was only forced to attend the initial session. While all of this was going on, my parents had begun seeing a personal trainer and nutrition coach, so food and exercise dominated a lot of household conversation, which reinforced my preoccupation with “healthy” eating.

I remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I’d bake sweets for my family on almost a nightly basis, the aroma of the baked goods forcing me to salivate, but I was strong. I never gave in. I ate the exact same food every single day, at the exact same time, and in the exact same quantity.

Sleep was hard to come by, initially due to the audible pleading of my stomach for sustenance, but later due to hunger pains that only increased in severity as the night wore on.

I wish I knew what exactly made me “snap out of it,” but eventually (and thankfully), my body took over my prefrontal cortex, and forced me to slowly restore my weight to a sustainable range. Strangely, I don’t remember much of the weight restoration process, but I can imagine that it was excruciatingly devastating to watch myself gain the weight that I had worked so hard to starve off.

My level of self-consciousness has remained fairly constant throughout my development into adulthood. Today, I am right smack in the middle of the “healthy weight range” according to the BMI chart. But my relationship with food is nowhere near healthy.

Last semester, I took a 20 credit hour course load. (Full-time is 12.) However, I couldn’t bring myself to focus on anything school-related until I had a Maddie-approved meal plan prepared for the day. I’d spend upwards of an hour per night just packing food for the next day, because my anxiety would be far too severe for me to cope with if I didn’t.

Every time I visit the ladies room, I will spend 2-3 minutes examining myself, pinching various areas of my body in disgust, regardless of who might see. I have to forcibly pull myself away from the mirror before I burst into tears. I visit the scale multiple times per day, and threaten myself with starvation if I don’t like the number I see.

Sometimes, when my anxiety is unleashed, I hide in the pantry and scarf down entire boxes of cereal. After which, I go to the gym and attempt to purge it all with hours of cardiovascular exercise.

Weight gain is by far my greatest fear, and I structure my entire life around avoiding it. I have isolated myself in order to ensure that I don’t slip up. I am prisoner to my obsession with food.

I am ready for a life without this, but unfortunately, I won’t let me let it go.

M.

 

The Problem of Modesty

“Modest is Hottest.” The all-too familiar chant for anyone who grew up in the LDS Young Women’s program. We grow up being taught that as women, it is our responsibility to cover ourselves up, in order to protect the thoughts of the young men in which we interact with. Exposing the shoulder, midriff, cleavage, or thigh causes young men to have lustful thoughts, and we best not corrupt them.

I never bought into this whole “modesty” thing, mostly because in this instance, the word “modesty” is being completely misused. I would suggest we substitute “modest” with “conservative,” but “Conservative is Hottest” isn’t nearly as appealing to say, and doesn’t rhyme, either.

Also, I never felt that the burden of controlling someone else’s thoughts was a burden assigned to me. After all, if I was busy controlling my dude friends’ thoughts, who was controlling mine for me?

Back to my point. So I was always that girl in high school who stuck out like a sore thumb in homecoming pictures because my dresses lacked sleeves, and rarely reached past my mid-thigh. Tank tops in the summer were a staple, as were two-piece swimsuits. (Except at Girl’s Camp, of course.)

Today, I was at the gym, minding my own little business on the weight floor, when an older man (estimated age 60) approached me.

“Excuse me,” He said as I ripped out my headphones, DMX blaring. “I know i’m an old man, but I just wanted to thank you for not wearing those tiny running shorts.” I looked down at my Ultimate Yoga Pants, my cheeks growing hot. I blinked.

“I’m new to this gym,” he continued, “I switched here because at my old gym, all the girls would wear these tiny, little running shorts. I’ve been coming here a week now, and I haven’t seen a single girl wearing those. I appreciate you covering up.”

Dumbfounded and jaw agape, I mumbled, “I like stretchy pants.” and marched out of the gym, ears fuming, and cursing myself for not having a better response.

To be frank, my dear old gym friend, I did not choose to wear pants as opposed to shorts for modesty’s sake. The last thing on my mind when dressing myself this morning was “gee, how can I present myself in a way that will promote clean thoughts from the men that see me?” Because let’s be honest, I will be objectified regardless of the length of my leg wear.

This cultural attitude that women must cover themselves in order to protect men from entertaining lustful thoughts and desires is problematic at best.It ingrains a sense of shame in young girls over their bodies. Girls as young as they come are being told that tank tops are immodest. The shoulder has been sexualized. Girls are shamed into conforming to some arbitrary dress code and told that if they don’t, they are causing men to have lustful thoughts.

And we layer EVERYTHING. Which is fine, if that’s what you’re into. But when it’s 112 degrees on a July afternoon, you can bet your bottom dollar I will not be sporting more than one layer.

So sure, let’s keep the fun “Modest Is Hottest” motto. But let’s stick to the literal definition of the words within that phrase, and let’s hear the boys chant this at scout camp, too.

According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, Modesty is defined as “freedom from conceit or vanity.”

Where, exactly, does the shoulder coverage fit in there?

M.

Parity

I remember the Spice Girls. I remember all four of us: Cortney, Tasha, (my cousins) McCall, (my sister) and myself, dressing up and choreographing dance moves to all of their songs. None of us could be Baby Spice, because all of us wanted to be Baby Spice. I still think I should have been her, though. After all, I was the only one with blonde hair.

I remember long summer days at the pool, and our quad piling into the back of my mom’s minivan in our bathing suits. I remember sitting side-by-side with my cousins and comparing the sizes of our thighs. Mine were way bigger.

I remember asking my mom later if I was fat. She told me that I wasn’t, and that my cousins were simply too skinny. I was seven years old.

I remember the summer before 8th grade when I decided to participate in the Miss Kaysville Fruit Heights scholarship pageant. I won the Director’s Choice Award, but I know that the pageant was rigged, and the only reason I got any sort of award was because the director of the pageant just so happened to be my neighbor. I’m still glad she didn’t let me leave empty-handed, and still have that little trophy sitting on my dresser.

I remember Lakin Larsen, my favorite babysitter, who always made me two packets of Easy Mac and played Kim Possible outside with my little sister and me. She was always Kim Possible, and we were the bad guys.

I remember going to bed with one little sister, and waking up with two.

I remember when the only things that mattered to me were whether or not I would be sleeping over at my cousins’ house for the third time in a row, and who had the most Water Babies.

I remember when everything mattered.

I remember when everything mattered so much that I couldn’t bring myself to fall asleep at night because I had too much worrying to do about things that mattered.

I remember how in 8th grade health class, we had to practice reading each others’ blood pressures, and mine was so low that even Coach Downs couldn’t find it. I’d never seen a teacher look so concerned before, and I doubt he’d seen a student so underweight before.

I remember buying Coach a snow globe with a John Deer tractor in it for Christmas that year. The man was obsessed with John Deer tractors.

I remember our summer snow cone stand out in the front yard and how we got a whole gang of older kids on bikes to buy fourteen dollars worth of snow cones in one day. They came back once a week, and we’d always spend our entire earnings on syrup and ice so that we could re-open shop the following day. We owned that neighborhood.

I remember when I finally decided that I was going to stop taking myself so seriously, because, let’s be honest, nobody else does. Life has been significantly easier since I’d made that decision.

I remember starting high school with a brand new clique of friends. My best friend, Brooks, introduced himself like, “Hi, I’m Brooks! And I’m a giant teddy bear!” and then shook my hand. I knew right then that we were going to be best friends for a long time.

I remember Brooks coming over to my house for the first time. He laughed at the chubby third grade version of myself my family had mounted on our living room wall. I locked myself in my closet and wouldn’t come out until I felt that he’d adequately begged for my forgiveness.

I remember my Chemistry teacher, Mr. Stevens, and how one day, in front of the entire class, he advised me in his British accent to enroll in medical school for the sole purpose of finding a mate. He said once I’d done that, I could just drop out and be a trophy wife. That was the day I decided I was going to get a PhD.

I remember back in high school when I was a ballroom dancer, and I’d have to get spray tans for competitions. I remember being told by a fellow classmate that I looked like I “rolled in a bag of Doritios.” I blushed, but you couldn’t see it due to my artificial tan.

I remember waking up at 5:30 every morning to get ready for school, which gave me two whole hours before class started. I didn’t mind, because just like everything else, looks mattered.

I remember when I’d foolishly decided to sign with a modeling agency. The agents were all real smooth-talkers, and wrongly convinced me that I “had a great look” for modeling and said that if I worked hard, I could be successful. Guess who didn’t get an ounce of work through aforementioned modeling agency?

I remember how in junior high school, the proper way to tell a boy you liked him was to hurl Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into his back yard while he was jumping on his trampoline with his friends. This method was successful on all trials but one.

I remember being labeled a perfectionist by some shrink my parents made me see one time

I remember deciding that things didn’t matter any more, and how that mindset resulted in really poor grades, and a lot of sneaking out of my house on school nights.

I don’t remember ever finding a balance.

Hedonic

I don’t mean to be THAT girl, the one who’s always a minute behind the latest pop culture trends, but let’s be honest, I’m typically that girl who’s always a minute behind the latest pop culture trends. I live under a rock of Fall Out Boy and New Girl. My scope of pop culture exposure is fairly limited.

I listened to the radio the other day because I forgot my little tape cassette thingy that lets you play music from your smart phone. I hope I never forget my little cassette tape thingy again. Anyway, that preposterous “All About That Bass” song came on.

Aside from its reprehensible tune, I find the song’s lyrics to be absolutely ludicrous. Let’s take a closer look at the problematic themes of this song, shall we?

“My mama, she told me, don’t worry about your size. She says, ‘boys like a little more booty to hold at night.'”

Okay, Meghan Trainor, so your mama taught you to keep some junk in the trunk so that future suitors have something to grab at when you’re laying in bed at night? How is that any different than girls who starve themselves because everyone and their dog knows that the no boy doesn’t like the slim Victoria’s Secret Model body type? I have a really hard time picturing anybody’s mama telling them to do anything to their bodies that make men want to hold them more. In addition, this is a clearly anti-feminist theme because mama says the reason to keep your booty plump is for the sole purpose of attracting men, thus a form of self-objectification, which is completely problematic.

“Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.” 

So skinny girls are, by default, bitches? No, no. That’s called jealousy. If you didn’t at least partially covet those with a daintier frame, you wouldn’t feel the need to call them bitches. This ties in to a previous post of mine in which I discuss how women tend to degrade other women by attaching some kind of ridicule about their physical appearance to another insult, i.e. “skinny bitches.” (See “For Maximum Efficiency“)

“Cuz I got that boom boom that all the boys chase.” 

What in the hell is boom boom?

Skinny shaming is no better than fat shaming. I am a complete advocate of self-acceptance, but, in my opinion, (and the RIGHT one, on this website, anyway. Welcome to my totalitarian online world, people.) accepting and learning to love your body cannot be done while shaming those with body types that differ from yours.

This is going to sound completely adolescent, but if you have to shame other people to feel better about yourself, are you really improving your self-esteem?

Perhaps.

If mentally telling yourself that boys like your curves better than hip bones or vice versa improves your sense of self-worth and esteem, by all means, keep telling yourself that. But shall we not incorporate such themes into our media and allowing them to plague the minds of the young and easily-influenced?

As for me, I couldn’t give a damn whether REAL men like curves. Or thigh gaps. I have the body I have. It functions efficiently and I keep it healthy and feeling good. And that is good enough for me.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, skinny, tall, short, have an extra toe, have been christened”big-boned,” what have you. Learning to accept the body you have is an entirely separate process from shaming somebody else.

As a side note, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” –Some Profound Author/Poet/Inspirational Speaker.

M.

Irascible

Today, I am bugged.

And I have plenty of legitimate reasons to be. I can count the hours of sleep i’ve gotten in the last two days on one hand. We ran out of my favorite caffeinated drink packets this morning. My Chapstick melted all over my jeans on the way to work. I cut my lip on accident whilst trying to pry open a cup of Greek yogurt at lunch today. Global warming.

So EXCUUUUUSE me for being a little “tender.”

Work went well, though, despite my 10 hour shift and it being Friday.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am becoming quite the efficient little receptionist, if I do so humbly say so myself. I even get my very own pen which i’ve labeled with a note that says, “This has probably been in Maddie’s mouth.”

One of the major tasks of my position as Efficient Receptionist with adorable name tag and special pen is to check in patients and also schedule their next appointments.

Never a dull moment in customer service jobs.

We get a lot of older men coming in to my work, and i’ve suffered more than my fair share of passes from these older dudes. But today was noticeably higher-saturated with passes from older dudes.

Wow, please excuse the atrocious grammar in that last sentence, and then note again the lack of sleep of which I am suffering.

Allow me to elaborate:

Old Dude #1: Thank you, missy, you are too sweet.

Me: …..

Old Dude #1: Uh, umm, (stammers, ad lib.) That wasn’t sexual harassment. (Turns and bolts toward the exit, but stops suddenly upon grabbing the door handle and shouts behind him, “have a great day, my dear!”)

Why in the actual hell would you even say the words, “sexual harassment” in this situation?! We could have easily both ignored your forward and borderline inappropriate comment about the sweetness of which I was exhibiting.

Scenario Dos:

Old dude #2: Hey, gorgeous! Sorry I’m late!

Me: ….

Old Dude #2: Oh, no, I was talking to him. (Nods to my coworker, who is a male.) Otherwise, that’d be sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment.” Can we just delete that phrase from our vernacular? It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Scenario Tres:

Me: Okay, Old Dude #3, are we scheduling you for 2 appointments next week or three?

Old Dude #3: two, unless the third one is me and you for dinner.

Me: *slams head against keyboard just hard enough to escape consciousness for the remainder of the work day.*

So that had me in a pretty sour mood for the majority of my shift, but it was my very last patient of the day that about made me lose my marbles.

Before you call me a man-hater and start throwing tomatoes at me, please return to your designated seat, make sure you’re caught up on your meds, have a sip of water, and continue reading.

Last patient walks in, and I go about my routine of getting her checked in and ready to go.

Last Patient: It’s so nice to see young girls like you being so efficient!

Me: *looks up from what i’m doing, eyebrows knit together in confusion and disgust*

I was unaware that “young girls” had a track record for being non-efficient.

What’s so surprising about my abilities to accomplish office and admin tasks at work? Is it that i’m a girl AND that i’m efficient? Is it that i’m young and efficient? Does she not know any girls who are efficient? And when can people finally start referring to me as a woman rather than a girl gosh dang it I am almost two decades old.

Maybe I just read into these things way too much because of my constant, ever-waxing feminist attitude. Maybe I should have just taken her comment as a compliment and not thought anything more of it. But WHY is it nice to see young girls being so efficient?! Would it still be nice if I were a young boy and being efficient?! Would she even say anything?! WHY AM I YELLING?!

I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off and tired. And now i’m going to angrily slump on my couch and efficiently eat Nutella from the jar with a miniature spoon.

M.

The Acceptional* Feminist

Last night, a fairly new crony and I went on an excursion to “the ruins,” an old, torn up structure that rests on the side of a hill not out of walking distance, and not too steep to climb up to in sandals.

We sat down side-by-side and took in the city view and had deep discussions about life. Naturally, the topic of feminism, and my firm belief in human equality, was a major topic of discussion.

“I’m a feminist,” I mentioned, as casually as you would say, “I’m a sophomore,” or “i’m a dog person.”

He hesitated for just a fraction of a second, just noticeable enough for me to know that I wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear out of his pie hole.

You wanna know what he said? Okay here goes:

“Oh, but you’re a GOOD feminist,” he said.

It kind of reminded me of the way I repeatedly pat my dog on the head after she pees outside rather than on the carpet.

I blinked away any possibility of a stupor of thought before clarifying for him that Feminism is inherently a GOOD and all-around beneficial movement for society as a whole, and had to differentiate between a feminist and a man-hater.

Now what, you may ask, qualifies me as a “good feminist” to this young man?

Is it the fact that I like wearing skirts and shave my armpits (and legs, all 3 months of summer, anyway) and wear mascara on a daily basis? Is it that i’m straight and let guys take me on dates and don’t make a scene if someone opens a door for me?

Is it that the way I present myself JUST SO HAPPENS to conform to a lot of society’s list of acceptable ways to present yourself?

Because if that’s what makes me a “good feminist,” then I don’t want to be a “good feminist.” That’s the whole point, right? To show that women DON’T NEED the acceptance or approval of men and are human people who, gee, I dunno, do things because they make them happy?

Trust me, I don’t do any altering of my own appearance in pursuit of the approval of men. I wear skirts because dang it sometimes it gets really hot here in Utah and I just so happen to despise pants. I wear mascara because it makes me feel more alert, awake, and ready for my day. I shave my legs because I think it feels really disgusting when you brush your legs against each other and can feel the hair follicles moving.

Notice how none of my reasons for my feminine hygiene regimen have anything to do with men? Yes, me, too.

I guess some people really will never understand that NOT ALL FEMINISTS are bra-burning, man-hating, vengeful women.

Some are.

Some feminists are just your average-joe college girls who love bows and slug bugs and bleaching their hair and dates with preppy boys who wear Jake by Hollister cologne who simply refuse to be treated as second-class citizens because their anatomy differs from that of their male peers.

But conveniently, and luckily, for me, I have been deemed a “good feminist,” by a man.

Hooray for wanting equal rights in a manner that suits dudes!

M.

*Note: I am completely aware that “acceptional” is not a real word… yet. But this is MY blog, MY rules, and MY vocabulary. For your convenience, I have provided a reference guide.

Acceptional: (adj) containing qualities/behaviors that are both acceptable and favorable.