If you knew nothing about me, you’d probably look at that picture and think “wow she looks great!” You’d congratulate me, tell me how awesome I am, say you envied my dedication. I’ve been told my body is “goals” and received comments on how tiny I am. People ask me how I did it, in hopes I’ll reveal some great secret they can copy.
Because unfortunately in our society, weight loss and thinness is a sign of health. We assume if someone lost weight, they must be healthier. That it’s always something to be celebrated. An achievement, a mark of success.
But for me (and for many other women), a thinner body does not mean a healthier body. In fact, it means the exact opposite.
My “perfect body” came from starving day after day, from slowly destroying myself. It’s a body without a regular menstrual cycle, with osteopenia in its bones, with a weak heart and all sorts of other damage I’m not even aware of.
I finally have the body I always dreamed of when I was younger and watched all the popular girls get asked out on dates. I have the body I thought I could never have. I surpassed the weight I had written at the top of my life goals list (sad that was the number one thing I wanted right??).
I finally have the one thing I thought would make my life perfect. And guess what. It did the opposite. Instead of giving me everything I wanted, it took it away.
And while my #transformationtuesday picture might get hundreds of likes on Instagram, while I’m hit on a lot more at bars now, while I’ve achieved what many people dream of, I’m not proud. I don’t want to be the girl on the right anymore. I don’t want to be starving and miserable and lifeless all to be the hot girl.
I would give anything to be the girl on the left again.
I would give anything to rewind to before my eating disorder, before I was a size zero, to that carefree girl who loved her life. Who exercised only when she felt like it. Who had an amazing boyfriend, great friends and a bright future. Who could eat an entire pizza followed by ice cream without a second thought. Who felt hot 99 percent of the time.
So the next time you see a before and after picture, take a minute before you comment. Remember you don’t know what it took to get there. You don’t know what demons that woman is facing, what her life looks like, what her story really is. You don’t know anything other than her size.
I’m not diminishing the people who truly lose weight for health and do it in a way that improves their lives for the better. I think that’s wonderful.
But what I’m trying to say is our society focuses way too much on “skinny at any cost.” We heap praise on those who lose weight like they just cured cancer. And when young girls see how much weight loss is valued, they sometimes fall down the slippery slope of an eating disorder. Because what girl doesn’t want to be valued and appreciated and “popular”?
Let’s look beyond the outside and praise the inside. Maybe the transformations we aim for should be the growth of our soul, our creativity, our dreams. THAT’S what should get likes on social media or guys at the bar. THAT’S what we should be teaching our daughters is what makes them worthy.
And that’s why one day I’ll be the girl on the left again. Not necessarily in size, but in spirit. In joy, in happiness, in heart.
**This post appeared originally on the Real Life Recovery Diary.