I am fake. I am ugly. I am nothing. I hide my face with layers of makeup hoping that half a bottle of concealer will be enough to make me as flawless as Bella Hadid looks on the cover of every magazine. I use innumerous acne medications, aspiring to be as unblemished as the girls in the Clean and Clear commercials. I reject bags of skittles and Chocolate chip cookies thinking that my sacrifices will make me “love my body” as much as the emaciated instagram models love theirs . I regularly go to the gym working out and burning as many calories as possible. I do everything, yet feel like I am nothing. Nothing compared to the beautiful women pictured on television, magazines, and billboards. Regardless of how many diets i try, how much I work out, how many likes I get or how much money I waste trying to feel pretty, I will always be flawed. I will never be pleased with my appearance because I do not “measure up to the current standard of beauty”,” because I am incapable of achieving the body image the mass media advertises and—most importantly— expects women to desire. I am not going through a phase.
The first time I saw an instagram model, I understood what the definition of beautiful was. That’s where it all began. Influencers like Kylie Jenner and Tammy Hembrow preach natural beauty and self-love yet they won’t post a picture until its edited or they won’t go out in public without pounds of makeup on. Furthermore, they deny their plastic surgery and promise they were born this way. To tell the truth, following these accounts drove me to a dark and unhappy place. I looked towards social media for emotional support and social acceptance. When i didn’t get enough likes or comments on the pictures I posted, I felt like a loser. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I would never be able to have someone love me like people love those models. I just knew I would never look like them. My distorted body image cannot be overlooked the way mass media dismisses the guilt of setting unhealthy, not to mention unattainable, appearance goals for men and women. More importantly, I was 12 years old when this started. Being exposed to this kind of pressure at such a vulnerable and critical stage of my life was detrimental to my mental health. Moreover, looking up to these women just hoping and praying I could look like them one day. But in my mind knowing it would never happen.
I was always an active child. I started playing soccer at the age of three, I scare raised, I ran competitively and I did triathlons. You name the sport, I played it, therefore you can expect that I would have a body that will aid in my performance for sports as opposed to the normal ballerina like bodies most girls hat. Being big and strong used to be something amazing, but now it just feels like a burden. Being able to brag about beating the boys was something I used to cherish, but my body is now considered “manly” And “big “. You like tank tops? Great, I can’t wear them because my shoulders are too broad. What about jeans? Well, I have to buy two sizes up to fit my legs into them. Not only was I extremely hard on myself, but other people felt like they should share what they thought about me. “She looks like a man”, Julius whispered to his friend standing next to him. I pretended like I never heard it until I got home and criticize every inch of myself. Body, face or personality no matter what it was, I hated it. I tried to brush them off but my friends and family had continuously joked about the way I left. For fear that I would be made fun of for the rest of my life, I decided to rip all happiness out of me by restricting calories, working out as much as possible and trying to achieve a certain level of social acceptance. under those circumstances, I developed a severe eating disorder.
Nine months ago I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa – an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight (mayo clinic) and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea- when menstruation stops and it is linked to the hypothalamus (Chris sandel) To put it in another way, I lost my period because my body fat percentage was extremely low. To illustrate, every morning I would wake up and run for an hour and a half, running around 800 calories. I wouldn’t eat my first meal until 12 PM, and I would work out right after. That work out, I would first run to the gym, then work out and finally run home from the gym burning approximately 1400 calories. After my workout I would always eat depending on how I look that day, I would choose to eat dinner or skip it. I tracked everything I ate. My daily calorie intake would sit around 1000 to 1200 calories a day. My life revolves 100% around the way I looked and what people thought of me. For example, I packed my own dinner when I went to birthday parties, I told people I had a food intolerance so they would follow my dietary requirements And lastly I would miss spending time with my friends because I wanted to work out. Life just became a struggle. Nobody wants to live in constant disappointment and agony. Things needed to change.
Today society has been tormented and controlled by social expectations men and women hold on each other. I am not the only one who has been affected by these pressures implemented by social media, peers and most of all ourselves. We need to educate each other on what is healthy versus what is picturesque. Nothing in this life will be easy, we will cry, laugh, scream and be silent. What you do to get over that wall is what defines you, not what your body looks like, what your peers think or what social media thinks. We learn after our hard times what it means to love ourselves wholeheartedly and how important it is to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “You are beautiful.” You are always enough.