As a young girl, I was always hyper-aware of my weight and its comparison to every other person my age. When my feminist awakening finally (and thankfully) occurred, I was about twelve years old and struggling everyday with the constant pressure of food and weight on my mind. By the middle of my eighth grade year, when I was thirteen, I was constantly getting into debates with my middle school teachers about issues such as the dress code and its obvious sexism and prejudice towards heavier girls. Of course I argued that everybody is beautiful regardless of size and shape, which is true; however, I was struggling with seriously believing it myself.
Everyday I would compare my body to other girls, rating each and deciding which was more appealing, which to me meant skinny. As ashamed as I am to admit it today, I absolutely despised my body and would constantly search for 'flaws' in other girls to validate my own self worth. In the summer before high school, I was finally feeling better about my body image, partly due to the intense soccer conditioning I was doing for tryouts, and also because I had abandoned old habits of counting calories and fasting. Everything was going well until the soccer season ended and I gained five pounds. Those five pounds were like bullets to my self confidence and I instantly fell back into my destructive eating habits. On the other hand, at this time I was the most socially aware I had ever been, constantly researching and pointing out the blatantly obvious discrimination of women, African Americans, and other minority groups in the modern world.
The most difficult aspect of all of this was the absolute shame I felt about hating my body. I always told people that their body was beautiful no matter the size and shape, but I was secretly criticizing them in my mind. One thought constantly plagued my head- Does this make me a bad feminist? Feminism, for me at least, stands up for people of all shapes and sizes, and feminists are fighting for the confidence of all body types, everywhere. Fat doesn't mean ugly, and I wholly believe that, so why did my mind associate fat with unattractive? I have come to the conclusion that this association dwells from the patriarchal views of today's society, which promotes the idea that fat is not sexually appealing, especially to men. Of course my eating disorder, and I assume other people's, was completely not caused by a need to seem attractive to males, but a mental instability which placed strict sanctions on my own mind. There is simply no better way to describe it than this: I was completely supportive of other people's bodies, but on a 1-10 scale of my own body image, I was a -5.
It was only about two months ago, when my eating disorder was out of control and I finally confessed it to my parents, that I staring accepting everyone's body, including my own.
As a fourteen-year-old high school freshman, accepting yourself is one of the hardest things to do. Consequently, I turned to my feminism to help me with this daunting task. I realized that until I accepted my own weight, I could never tell other girls and boys my age that their body was beautiful.
Even though my weight and eating disorder still continues to be an everyday struggle, I have learned through studying feminism that I cannot promote body positivity until I had it myself, and that revelation lead to my journey to recovery.