I’m putting the kidding aside for a second.
Let’s talk about something important. Something that needs to be said. Something we all know, and we all ignore or pretend to subscribe to while secretly doing exactly what society wants us to do anyways.
We hate ourselves.
We hate our noses, our cheekbones, the pudge around our waistlines, that annoying roll of fat beneath our push-up bras from Victoria’s Secret. We hate that chicken fingers are 850 calories, we hate that calories exist at all, we obsess over what we eat, how many steps we take, how we reflect in a mirror.
This topic has been beaten to death with a stick, so why does nothing ever seem to change? What do we have to start saying to get people to actually start subscribing to the idea of self-love instead of self-hate?
Why does is feel so good to hate ourselves? Why is it so scary to just accept who we are and what we look like? Why has media found a way to make this a timeless issue?
When my friends start bitching to me about how much they ate that day, or try to brag about how they haven’t eaten since breakfast…or at all. That’s backwards. Brag to me about the kick-ass lunch you had, and get pissed when you didn’t get to eat all day. That’s the way. And it makes me so mad, it lights a fire under my ass and I want to scream at them, WAKE UP! Food is not the enemy, that magazine in your hand is, that Instagram model with the fake lips, ass, and liposuction stomach is the enemy. Stop worshiping the devil, ladies and gentlemen. Stop praising your demons and allowing them to feed on your soul.
Tell the anxieties and insecurities to get lost. Go spend $100 on food and eat it all, shamelessly. Only go to the gym to be a stronger woman, not to punish yourself for a burrito that you thoroughly enjoyed eating.
I know what some of you are thinking.
Haleigh, you are a foodie. You couldn’t hate food if you tried.
That’s not true. I starved myself nearly to death when I was 17. I stopped eating lunch and started passing out. My friends all commented on how I never ate, and it fueled the fire. I tried to sustain myself on apple juice, popcorn and as little dinner as I could get away with eating without sparking the concern of my parents. (Which I failed at, mind you.) I stopped going to chick-fil-a with my friends after school and started going to the gym. Then I didn’t have the energy for the gym anymore, so I struggled my way across the high school parking lot, fighting against the dizzying feeling of losing your peripheral vision, fighting against the need to pass out, I got in my car, and I drove myself home, fueled on the less than 5 calories in my chewing gum.
Then I didn’t have the energy to sit at home anymore, so I started sitting in doctor offices while they examined my heart and measured my waist and told my parents, “everything was fine.” But clearly, everything was not fine.
Finally, one day, my sweet old cardiologist looked at me and said, “you are better than the road you are going down. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel shame about the body you are in. You have a strong heart, you are stronger than this.”
I was lucky. I was lucky because those words worked for me. Those words gave me the strength to slowly start allowing food back into my life. They empowered me to walk across the parking lot, to get back in the gym for my well-being instead of my physical appearance, to start going back to chick-fil-a with my friends. To be the one to always bring s’mores to the bonfires.
Food is not your enemy. Food is never going to make you weaker. Food is the fuel for life and everything you do, down to your very DNA.
I’m not saying you have to be like me and bask in the glory of all things food. But please, do not shame yourself for enjoying what sustains you.
If you feel like you are struggling with an eating disorder, please visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline. NEDA is devoted to helping anyone who feels like they are struggling with an eating disorder.