Unrealistic Media

Talking about our bodies can be a sensitive subject for everyone. Fostered by overly sexualized advertisements and unrealistic standards of having the “perfect beach body”, people have begun to reorient their way of thinking into what society deems as “acceptable” or “hot” -- but most of these claims are made by photoshopped models and airbrushed magazines, which make the standards essentially unattainable. Through emphasizing standardized appearances, society is inadvertently placing large amounts of social pressure on young boys and girls who feel like they need to resort to harming their own bodies because they want to “fit in”. If we all stand by and allow the destructive cycle to continue, we are ultimately perpetrators of this issue. I believe that this is a conversation that needs to be addressed across all ages, cultures, and organizations. People are harming themselves and others for it, and fuels other unhealthy conditions such as bulimia and depression. The only way to create a unified front against body image expectations is to create a broader platform of discussion so others feel like they are not alone in the fight.


I banter because I want to help change the public perception of the ideal body image.

Letter to My Body

Harriet,

Why don’t you like me? Why does my size bother you so much? What is it about me that confines you and makes you feels so insecure? Is it really about people looking at me and making judgements? Do you think that if I’m not perfectly flat you won’t be loved or be able to find someone to love? Would you really want to be with someone who wouldn’t love you because I’m not perfect? Do you think that this one aspect of you will really change the way people look at you or change the way you look at yourself? Why do you let me hold power over you? What do you gain from it? You obviously feel worse about yourself and less willing to wear certain clothes or even do certain activities if you know I’m going to show – how does that support you and make your life more wonderful? Do you think that it makes your life more wonderful? What pleasure do you get out of it? What story have you told yourself about me that makes this worth it for you? You know everything happens for a reason so the fact that I hold the power in our relationship is not accidental, but why does holding onto me serve you? Why can’t you just let go your obsession with me? What lesson or skill do you still need to learn from me? Do you really think this is a skill that you need to learn over and over again or will once be enough for you?

I understand the discomfort my presences has for you and I can see and feel how much pain you’re in, and I just want to support you in recovery, but you won’t let me. When you see me growing and changing, fear builds up in you about not beings seen as attractive or not being loved. Then, your ex’s keep popping up, and you wonder if they would ever have loved you or even cared about you if I had been bigger or different. Don’t you see that your beauty surpasses the physical and that the reason people are drawn to you is because of who you are and that isn’t dependent on your physical body? Wouldn’t it be easier to love yourself fully and to see yourself as beautiful and not need the external recognition? Do you understand that it would be easier for people to love you and see all of your greatness if you first saw and experienced it yourself? And why do you fear getting to a place of true self-acceptance? Where does that fear of feelings like other people will view you as arrogant and selfish come from? Feeling good about yourself and who you are as a person is a healthy and wonderful way to feel. Embrace when you feel those things, especially when you feel that way about me.

I cannot disappear, I cannot leave you, I cannot morph under your willpower like every other aspect of your life. No matter how much you wish I will change when you’re eating, I will always be what I am meant to be, and that is part of who you are. Unlike other people and things, I will never leave you, I will always support you in the way you need even if you don’t want my help or presence. I am here to keep you alive and to keep you from disappearing. Why do you need to make me small to feel like you can live? I am here to make sure that you survive, and my size doesn’t change that.

When you starve me you feel more confident, when you feed me you feel diminished and less loveable, but when you find someone who does love you for who you are, don’t you want to be healthy for them and the future lives that you will spend together? I know that you feel embarrassed and insecure about how much you let your happiness and confidence be determined by an external source, such as by the men in your life, but you are just trying to survive and you will find your power when you learn what you need to learn from this. Don’t be ashamed of how you feel. It doesn’t matter how others feel about you and this certain situation even if they feel the way you fear. You are allowed to be the only one who struggles with this and you don’t need to feel like less of an independent and strong person because of it.

You grew up believing that you were in charge of your emotions and the way you view yourself, so now you struggle with the fact that you feel like you are choosing to feel this way, and feel embarrassed that you can’t just change it. Don’t fight yourself and me so much. The easier you  make accepting your challenges, the easier it will be to overcome them. I am ready to give you your power back, but you need to be ready to receive it.

My request is that you look at these questions and understand where they are coming from, and why. Really explore these questions and you may be able to take your power back from me and understand your greatness and strength that has always been there. There is a gift I am supposed to give you and a lesson you’re supposed to learn, but learn it when you’re ready to, and don’t be afraid to let me go.

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

The story of my first day at my eating recovery clinic.

I stood at the doors holding my admission documents tightly to my chest. The cool October air blew past me as it ruffled the gold and yellow leaves clinging to the trees that engulfed the block around the building. Just walk up the stairs. I inhaled deeply as I raised my foot and placed it on the first step. Closing my eyes, I continued to ascend the stairs and enter the building.

“You must be the new patient! Charlie?” A red haired women who sat at the information desk stood and approached me excitedly.

The room was painted an off-brown/grey colour and the florescent lights beamed down on the faces of those who walked through. There was a flight of stairs that blocked half of the desk that lead to a floor, which laid hidden to those who did not know of it’s existence. There was a clear separation of the buildings occupants- a small pediatric clinic, that had pairs of mothers and their children wandering in and out, then, there was where I was going.

“Hi, yes, is this where I check in?” I asked, as I threw my hand forward to shake the approaching women’s, trying to hide the trepidation in my voice.

“Yep! I just need you to stand in front of this wall so I can take a picture of you, and then you’ll meet with our admissions representative. She can give you the lowdown of what your time is going to look like here.” Her tone was oddly chipper and I was taken aback by her slim figure and choice of clothing, which felt inappropriate for someone working in her occupation. It was a bit disconcerting.

She pulled out a large camera as I stood exposed against the plain white wall. Feeling naked in my black tights and tank top. She placed the camera in front of her face and pressed her finger against the black button that shot a blinding white light in my eyes. I looked at her a bit shocked for the lack of warning.

“Alrighty, got that, thank you. I’ll just walk you back to the offices.” She guided me along the thin corridor to the offices located behind the stairs. She passed me off to another woman who sat me next to her desk. The next few minutes were a blur as she handed me folder after folder of documents to sign until she stopped and turned to me.

“Now, I have to ask you some questions to get an understanding of the type of monitoring you may need. It is standard procedure for all new patients, just to get a better overview of your disorder and what we can do to provide the best possible care.”

I swallowed, preparing myself for whatever was to come next. I nodded, showing her she could proceed.

“Do you self-mutilate?” 

I shook my head.

“Do you use any recreational drugs?”

I shook my head.

“How much do you drink in an average week?

“I don’t drink often, I’m only seventeen”

“Have you ever attempted suicide”

I shook my head.

“Do you have suicidal thoughts?”

I shook my head.

“Do you use laxatives or diuretics?”

I shook my head.

“How often do you binge and purge?

Those words always got to me. Binge. Purge. I felt the blood rush to my face and I began to tug at a loose string on my leggings. “Depends on the week I suppose.”

“Have you ever been sexually assaulted?”

I nodded my head in affirmation.

For the first time since beginning the questions, she looked up at me and her eyes offered her condolences. An act I appreciated but also hated receiving.

She continued down the list of required questions, purposely marking the paper in front of her.

“As you know, this is an adult program, but from your intake and our perception of your maturity, the adult program will be far better suited for you than the adolescent one. You are actually the youngest patient we have allowed into this facility. However, if you feel that this is an uncomfortable environment for you at anytime, please let us know.”

I had no problem with the program, knowing that I would never encounter any issues during my treatment. I had played the confident, young woman who was “wise beyond her years” my entire life.

I nodded and stood up, believing that our meeting was finally over.

“One last thing, we need you to walk over to the medical offices in our building and get weighed, have your blood drawn, and give us a urine sample.”

She walked me over to the adjacent offices and I met the third stranger of the day.

I was instructed to take off all of my clothes, and proceeded to be weighed, measured, poked and prodded. At this point, I was exhausted and it had only been about 20 minutes since I had arrived.

Finally my intake was done and the red-haired women who had greeted me at my arrival came to retrieve me. She walked us over to the base of the stairs which lead to the facility I would be spending the next month at.

I walked slowly behind her as she talked about how wonderful the program they offered would be, and how I would make amazing relationships and meet many people. I stared blankly at the walls surrounding me, covered in inspirational quotes and calming photographs, barely hearing the words pouring out of her mouth. I had sacrificed so much to be here. I had flown across the world and left my home, my friends, my dogs, my senior year. Pain surged through my heart as I felt the familiar sting of grief and sadness behind my eyes.

We arrived at the base of the stairs and I began the walk up to the facility. The joyful, red-haired woman waited at the ground floor and slipped back to her post behind the information desk. 

I reached the door and as I began to open it she called up to me from down below, “I forgot! Silly me! Welcome to the Eating Recovery Center!” I had arrived.


I banter because... it's a way for me to share and accept my experience and story, and because not enough people understand the effects of an eating disorder and the journey a person experiences with it. 

Forgiveness

The story of telling my mom about my eating disorder:

The smell of hay and sweat mingled in the still air surrounding us. I sat uncomfortably, pushing my crossed legs against the door of the convertible. The seat belt tightened across my chest as I inched further away from the center of the car. We sat parked a few meters away from the gate to our housing complex.

I could feel her stare piercing through me, begging for some sort of expression she could hold on to. My hand gripped tighter around my horseback riding crop as I absently glared into the vacant night street.

The unfinished conversation hung over our heads, heavy with anticipation and uncertainty. She wanted some answers, she wanted something that could help her make sense of what our relationship had turned into. Anger and resentment filled my chest, and all of the unspoken disappointment and grief that I had kept from her, caused of the past few years, were finally boiling to the surface. I knew it was unfair of me to expect her to know or understand without me explaining it to her, but it was easier to blame her for this instead of accepting what was happening. The second I shared this with her, everything would change.

Profound guilt began to linger through my body, I had been so cold and disconnected for so long, it didn’t feel safe to open up again. It was too painful. I knew she loved me and that nothing would change that, but I was her perfect daughter. I was the perfect daughter that was about to crush her soul.

“Mom, there is so much you don’t know and so much you will never be able to understand,” I said as I continued to look blankly ahead of me.

She sat silently, the only evidence of her presence were the sounds she occasionally released as she wept. It was too agonising to look at her when she was like this. Her eyes red and pleading, her skin blushed and splotchy, moist from the residue of tears cascading down her face.

“These past two years have been so hard and you were never around to see it or offer support. You were so involved with your own life, it was like you forgot you had children. Your friends became your family while your family became dispensable.” I knew my words had cut through her as she attempted to hide her sobbing.

Again, the car filled with uncomfortable silence, and not even the sweet hum of traffic could penetrate the seemingly disconnected world we had created.

“When I tell you what I am about to tell you, I need you to not touch me.” For the first time in an hour, I turned my body and faced her. The shock of my direct action was painted across her face and she knew the only appropriate response she could provide was a nod. I could feel tears welling up behind my eyes and I felt like my throat was going to shut. Don’t cry.

“Over the past year or so…” My heart began to race. I can’t say it out loud. I can’t do this. I returned my gaze to the road ahead of the car. I didn’t think this was going to be so difficult.

“...I have struggled with an eating disorder.” As the words came out of my mouth, I felt a pang of sharp pain, then the feeling of powerlessness wrapping around my neck to suffocate me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her hand timidly approach me. I recoiled deeper into my seat, hoping it would eventually shield me from this conversation.

She could no longer hold back her emotions and began to openly wail, the sound breaking the barrier we had established from the rest of existence. Guilt overwhelmed me as I sat and saw the deep regret and blame my mom had been holding in her heart. Yes, she had fucked up in the past, but these past few months she had been trying to reconcile things and I had used every opportunity to push her away. To get back at her. She may of been unintentionally absent, but I had been purposely cruel. I reached my hand out and placed it on her shoulder, shifting my legs to face her.

“I’m sorry that I blamed you for this, it wasn’t your fault. It isn’t your fault. It’s no one's fault. I was in so much pain and it was easier for me to paint you as a bad guy than to accept reality. I should have been honest with you. I should have been vulnerable. You had no way to know. I forgive you and I hope you can forgive me.”


I banter because... it's a way for me to share and accept my experience and story, and because not enough people understand the effects of an eating disorder and the journey a person experiences with it. 

少女的負擔

誰能體會到少女的負擔?

也許這會顯得出乎意料,

依據她燦然的臉蛋,

你怎能猜到?

她早已喪失了

對於她映像的不惑

她渴望著完美

可臻於完善蘊含天價。

誰能體會到少女的負擔?

苗條,美麗,深孚眾望

她的魅力只不過是

一場即將開始的苦戰。

她咆哮的胃

是美好的兆頭

求證了一帆⻛順

可她只蘊含內疚。

誰能體會到少女的負擔?

她日復一日地承受。

至今她只剩骨架

及她灰⻩,沉沒的臉蛋

環繞著她的親友

只想改變她的命運

以及幫她重新做人,

可現在太遲了嗎?

誰能體會到少女的負擔?

他們呼籲她堅持堅持

“她終於沒事了!”他們喜悅地歡唱

這是世上最大的誤解

晝夜不息的惡夢

仍會折磨她

別問我我怎能知道,

因那位少女是我。


我諧謔因為...這一切事不宜遲,非同小可。人生非不可不了了之,我們以揭開這一席話, 亦能揭開逾期的和解過程。

少女的负担

谁能体会到少女的负担?

也许这会显得出乎意料,

依据她灿然的脸蛋,

你怎能猜到?

她早已丧失了

对于她映像的不惑

她渴望着完美

可臻于完善蕴含天价。

谁能体会到少女的负担?

苗条,美丽,深孚众望

她的魅力只不过是

一场即将开始的苦战。

她咆哮的胃

是美好的兆头

求证了一帆⻛顺

可她只蕴含内疚。

谁能体会到少女的负担?

她日复一日地承受。

至今她只剩骨架

及她灰⻩,沉没的脸蛋

环绕着她的亲友

只想改变她的命运

以及帮她重新做人,

可现在太迟了吗?

谁能体会到少女的负担?

他们呼吁她坚持坚持

“她终于没事了!”他们喜悦地欢唱

这是世上最大的误解

昼夜不息的恶梦

仍会折磨她

别问我我怎能知道,

因那位少女是我。


我谐谑因为...这一切事不宜迟,非同小可。人生非不可不了了之,我们以揭开这一席话, 亦能揭开逾期的和解过程。

The Young Girl's Burden

The Young Girl’s Burden

Anonymous

Who knows the young girl’s burden?

I bet you’d be impressed,

She wears a smile so often,

You never would have guessed.

Her comfort with her image

Is something she has lost,

She yearns to be perfection,

But with it comes a cost.

 

Who knows the young girl’s burden

Of pleasing everyone?

And skinny being pretty,

The struggle’s just begun.

The grumbling in her stomach

To her is a good sign,

It proves that it is working,

But she won’t turn out fine.

 

Who knows the young girl’s burden?

She’s carried it for weeks,

All’s left of her is bone and

Her sallow, sunken cheeks.

Surrounded by her dearest,

Who try to change her fate

And try to make her better,

But is it much too late?

 

Who knows the young girl’s burden?

They urged her to stay strong,

“At last,” they cheered, “she’s healed now!”

They’d never been so wrong.

The nightmares will still haunt her,

It never ends you see,

But don’t ask how I know this,

For that young girl is me.


I banter because... it matters and needs to be talked about. Nothing has ever been solved by sweeping it under the rug. By opening up this conversation, we open up a healing process that is long overdue.