12:45 p.m. - 2014-07-10
I used to stare at those images because I wanted to look like that. The fact that I did look like some of them was lost on me; there is always someone skinnier on the Internet.
More recently, I look at them to ... I don't know. Maybe it is a form of ED recovery therapy, or at least ED mitigation therapy. I am 5'3-1/2" and I weigh 100 pounds. This used to be an intolerably huge number to me. Since I got divorced, however, I've become more interested in sticking it to my ex-husband and his ugly girlfriend than being the skinniest woman on earth. I've come to realize that I look much better at 100 lb than at any lower weight, and that looking good matters more to me than looking skinny. 100 lb allows me to have both the all-important thigh gap AND boobs. Toll-takers and cashiers tell me I have a great smile and they love my sunglasses, two or three random strangers offer to help me unload my shopping cart into my car every time I buy mulch, and my ex persistently stares over my left shoulder or at my feet every time we see each other.
Still, the little voice in my head babbles at me softly, sort of like the background noise of running water or an air conditioner, that 95 pounds would be better than 100, and 90 would be better than that. I've spent more than 20 years of my life obsessing over losing weight. It's like quitting any addiction: How do you fill all that empty space in your life??
Of course, I've had a million other reasons over the years to want to quit my eating disorder. It got me kicked out of college. It's dangerous to my daughter, who watches everything I do. It's cost me half and inch in height and, at times, made my hair fall out and my nails crack. I thought for years that it had made me permanently infertile (although apparently it didn't)! Still, it seems that for all the really good reasons that I've had for not starving myself to death, the only one that resonates with me is sticking it to my ex. This probably means I'm not a very nice person or a very good mother.
I think it's because I am very cutthroat and I hate to lose; I felt that way about being skinny and now I feel that way about looking as trim and sexy as my ex is beer-bellied, pale and receding (hairline-wise).
So I go online and I look at all these pictures of women who look like I used to look, and I tell myself, "That, Babe, is not going to make anyone but another anorexic jealous." It's working for now. The same stuff that used to be "thinspiration" to me is now a total turn-off.
The problem is, I'm still using it the same way. I'm still obsessed with these images, and the way my body measures against them. I'm still obsessed with perfection, although my definition of perfection has been modified.I'm still working under the assumption that it's what's on the outside that matters.
Because, well, fuck it, it DOES!! Nobody ever looks at you and sees your soul (thank God; I'd be a pariah). They look at your body, your clothes, your house, your job and your stuff, and assign you a relative worth as a human being. My body, for me at least, is the easiest thing to change and control. It's really the only thing one can improve for free. It's the one thing that M didn't destroy or seriously fuck up when he left; my family, my house, my income, my employment status, my social niche, my self-image, my identity, my future and even my name were all obliterated in my little personal Hiroshima. My body, on the other hand, he couldn't touch. He even has my kids every weekend. My body is the one thing he can never take away.
They say that's the reason you develop an eating disorder in the first place -- you feel like your body is the only thing you can control. Well, maybe in the end it becomes the reason you decide to control your eating disorder. Even when you're an adult and a parent, it feels sometimes like it's the only thing no one can take away.