Why do we beat ourselves up trying to look like those impossibly skinny stick insects that parade up and down the catwalks of Milan, Paris, London and New York?
Why do magazines berate anyone in celeb-dom that looks vaguely healthy because, goodness me, they have curves and maybe just a little bit of a tummy?
Why does anyone think that looking like a bag of bones covered in skin is vaguely attractive?
… because at some point in our lives we all do.
I have never been overweight, but that has not stopped my life being ruled by food. In times of trouble and stress it has been the one thing I used to control my life.
My unhealthy obsession with food started in my formative years.
I did Ballet like most little girls, and was always being told to hold my ribs in. Now when I was little, I thought this was an indication that I was fat, it was only later when I started developing that I realised my ribs naturally stuck out.
When the bullying started at secondary school, that’s when the anorexic tendencies began. I say tendencies because I never did the full throwing up stuff.
I just stopped eating.
I literally lived on a sandwich a day for nearly 2 years, until my parents found out what was happening.
Once life started returning to semi-normality I put weight on. But then I hated what I saw in the mirror.
I saw a big ugly ball of fat.
So, I started to control my food again. I would exercise in secret, forgo meals, but pretend I had eaten, where I could.
At sixth form my confidence wasn’t helped by the other pupils. I was constantly being called ugly, stupid, and then when they saw me in a bathing costume that’s when the taunts about my rib-cage got worse. Obviously I was some deformed mutant as I had 4 boobs!
At 17, I went under the knife. I had excess costal cartilage removed – if I remember correctly I had about 4 inches shaved off one ribcage and 5 off the other. Some may call it vanity, for me it was more of a psychological barrier. With the object of taunting removed maybe I could regain some self-confidence.
But I still hated what I saw in the mirror!
When I was at university fending for myself for the first time I put weight on – to the extent my mum taunted me (not in a vile way, just jokingly) about it – so I did something about it.
This time I didn’t starve, but lost weight carefully, although I did start obsessing about what I put in my mouth.
The one thing I couldn’t live without was biscuits. And if I got down about my studies I would have a cup of tea and happily munch through literally a packet of biscuits, without thinking anything, until afterwards.
I had some really good friends at uni – most of whom I have lost contact with – but I will never forget their concern at the beginning of our final year when I came back weighing pretty much the least I’ve ever weighed. I weighed just under 7 stone – and I stand 5’9″ tall. So I did look like a lollipop long before it became a popular look in Hollywood. If we went out for a meal, and I went to the bathroom someone would always tailgate me to make sure I wasn’t throwing up. Not that I ever did – seriously couldn’t do it. I tried it once, but who likes being sick?
For that I will be eternally grateful. They were true friends.
Throughout my twenties I didn’t starve myself, I just became obsessed that I didn’t eat too much. I would live on one meal a day. I didn’t have breakfast. I went to work and lived on water and then ate a small meal in the evenings. I did still binge on biscuits.
But I was in control, or so I thought.
Looking back, I was not in control rather my obsession was controlling me.
From the taunts that haunted me about being ugly and the one that has scarred me for most of my adult life that the only person who would go out with me would either be blind, drunk or mad the only thing I thought was that if I lost just a little bit more weight I would be prettier. I could not look in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I just saw the imperfections.
Through Mr Wong No. 1 until I got pregnant I would always use food as my coping mechanism.
If I was stressed I would stop eating, when I was depressed I binged. Simple.
Nowadays, I have thrown away the scales. I do not weigh myself. If I can fit comfortably into my jeans, great. If not, I cut down on the carbohydrates until I can. I am not obsessive any more. I have finally given up biscuits and now find I cannot actually eat them. But if I fancy a piece of cake I will have a piece of cake.
I try to eat healthily and ensure I get adequate exercise.
It’s taken me most of my life to realise that I am not an ugly ball of fat. I am what I am. Like everyone I have good bits and bad bits. I just focus on the good nowadays.