*Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder
My eating disorder started in my junior year of high school when I was just 16 years old. At the time, I would have told you “No, you’re crazy I’m just dieting.” In hindsight, my diet and intense calorie counting turned into an obsession and before you knew it, I had dropped 35 pounds in less than a year and my BMI was a 17.6, which doctors told me was underweight. In a world where I feel as though thinness is praised, hearing the news that I was severely underweight, almost to the point of becoming infertile, I was over the moon. This should not be a normal reaction. Even though doctors told me I needed to gain weight to become physically healthy again, I didn’t understand why. When I looked in the mirror, I still saw the same “chubby” girl and I so desperately wanted to look like all the thin girls I saw on Instagram and magazines. This was the time that I realized I also struggled with body dysmorphia. Since my junior year of high school, I have struggled immensely with my eating disorder and body dysmorphia. However, after going to treatment and therapy, one tool that I have utilized to help me battle my eating disorder is feminism. I know that might sound confusing but let me explain.
To understand how feminism has become a tool for my recovery, it is imperative to know how society has a massive influence on body image. Between models on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other media platforms, pop culture and the patriarchy has planted seeds in people’s mind of what an “ideal” body image is for all genders. The patriarchal system is oppressive and has continuously put women and minorities down for centuries. I am guilty of playing into the media portrayals of idealized body images and it has taken a toll on my mental health and fueled my eating disorder. Although I succumbed to the patriarchal system of telling women that in order to be “good enough” you essentially must not weigh enough, I am not a “bad feminist.” It has taken me awhile to come to terms with this but by acknowledging the contradictions in my life I have a better understanding of how to deal with loving myself when I feel as though the patriarchy is knocking at my door. Feminism has the power to begin to dismantle this flawed system.
In my opinion, feminism at its core sincerely believes that regardless of our gender, age, race, ethnicity, abilities, and socio-economic status we are all human beings who deserve to see advances and equality in society. Knowing there is a group of people like this that I can identify with has opened my eyes to the fact that I am more than my eating disorder. In taking my step toward recovery, feminism has become a different lens I see my eating disorder through. Within society, there are many injustices that people face, politically and mentally. By having a feminist way of thinking it has revealed to me that I have a better understanding of the setbacks that I, myself face and the underlying reasoning behind it. It has taken me years of self-reflection and therapy to understand that the reasoning behind my eating disorder is the images that I consume on social media, which causes me to become extremely insecure in my body. While I am not saying that feminism is the “cure” for eating disorders, it has given me a new mindset to view myself and dig deeper into the feeling of loving myself, the same way I wish all other people can be loved. Which in the end, comes back to the basic principle of feminism.