The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of Project Open Voices, a coalition of students providing a platform for open dialogue on campus. Today’s submission, which focuses on body image, was authored anonymously. POV is always accepting submissions, so if you want to share your story, email email@example.com. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: firstname.lastname@example.org (password: kenyoncollege).
When I was younger, I thought I was one of the few that could escape society’s trap. I thought I could be one of those girls that orders a burger and doesn’t think twice about it. I thought that if I was good at basketball and soccer and softball, I would not think about what my body looked like. I was wrong.
As a child and in my early teens, I never looked at food labels, besides that one time in freshman-year summer school health class when we recorded what we ate for a week. I was playing four hours of soccer a day that summer, and I ate more than almost all my peers. I was proud of it. Slowly, though, things began to change. In our junior year of high school, my best friend started counting calories on her phone. I noticed pouches of fat where I had never noticed them before. Before I knew it, I had fallen into the cycle I always believed I could avoid.
In a matter of a few months, I lost over twenty pounds. My life was governed by rules about what I ate and when I exercised. No more than 800 calories before dinner. No pizza. No red meat. No ice cream. Late in the evening, after soccer practice, I would sometimes slip out to the track and run a few miles. I carried hard candies in my backpack because sometimes I would get uncontrollably dizzy from hunger. I did not get my period for an entire year, until my doctor prescribed me birth control to start it again.
Of course, my parents grew concerned. However, I always stayed right at the threshold of a medically dangerous weight, so I could excuse it with “I’m just exercising more,” or, “I’m trying to eat a little healthier.” The obsessive behaviors that were difficult at first became habits that continued into the beginning of college. I maintained this weight until sophomore year, when in the midst of my first relationship and the first time I allowed myself to have fun, I gained it all back.
I wish I could say that gaining the weight cured me. I wish I could say that I love my body now. Some days, I do. Some days, all I can do is pinch the fat on my body and yell internally because I lost the illusion of self-control I once had. The truth is, when you have a bad relationship with your body, you are constantly engaged in a game of tug-of-war that you can never win. My hope for myself and for everyone fighting the same battle is that even when we are having a bad day, we keep tugging.