EDs Don’t Discriminate: Neither Does My Story

When someone says the word “eating disorder” what vision immediately appears in your mind? Be honest and think about it for a moment. For me—and, I would imagine for many—a shockingly skinny white young girl pops up. And many think, for this reason, young white girls are the only people EDs affect. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. While I know this, I don’t always see evidence of it (although I wish I did), but a recent review I received from a reader of What Goes Down brought this realization back home:

EDs do not discriminate.

It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or Chinese or Peruvian, big and tall, or fat and small, a girl or a boy, or even transgender, an ED cannot see any of that and cares nothing about it. Once it sees you as prey, you are only that: genderless, nondescript prey. And any of us can fall prey. Continue reading “EDs Don’t Discriminate: Neither Does My Story”

Why Barbie Makes Me Laugh

I think we’re all pretty familiar with the “life-size” Barbie analogy where a Barbie doll is made to-scale as a life-size woman and she’s absolutely ridiculous: boobs she could not fit into any shirt, feet the size of insects, arms as thin as reeds. It really is quite hilarious (and sad) that children strive to look like that. If you haven’t seen that Barbie analogy, here’s a great recap:

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While I think this measurement-to-measurement comparison is an important reminder to the little girls and boys inside us that Barbie is not a good role model, the more I think about Barbie, the more I see how a real-life version of Barbie would make me laugh. I wouldn’t envy her, or be jealous of her. I would simply laugh. Just imagine the many oddities and limitations Barbie has to deal with and how she might handle that on social media:

Because she can never NOT smile:

  • “Lost in Simon Says again today. Hate when he says ‘make a sad face’.”
  • “I am pissed. Why don’t you believe me?”
  • “This IS my resting bitch face.”

Because she has no nipples:

  • “Piercing guy told me ‘No’ because he wouldn’t know where to put them.”
  • “Is it cold in here? I can never tell.”
  • “Where do I put my pasties?”

Because her knees only bend with two audible pops up to 20 degrees:

  • “Namaste in this awkward extended position cause I can’t do Lotus.”
  • “At least I can bend and snap (oh … *snap*).”
  • “There goes my pole-dancing career.”

Because her toes are always pointed like she’s in a perpetual orgasm:

  • “Got my ‘O’ feet on today (and everyday)!”
  • “I can’t wear Birkenstocks. I just can’t.”
  • “I can’t understand why they call them ‘flip-flops’ – mine never flop.”
  • “Why are the cops always so mad when I tippie-toe in the line-up?”

Because … well, just because she’s hard, shiny plastic:

  • “Nothing jiggles when I twerk.”
  • “How do I ‘make it clap?’”

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The more I think about it, the harder I laugh. Imagine Barbie trying to go down stairs. Her back foot wouldn’t bend enough to let her safely put her front foot (even in ‘O’ mode) onto the next step, so she would just tumble the rest of the way down and land in an only slightly-bended heap at the bottom. Like a falling stick. (It’s a good thing she’s plastic.)

But, then how does she even get up?

Can she?

I believe if Barbie took one single fall, she’d be down forever.

I hope some of these Barbie musings have made you all laugh as hard as I have, and—far more importantly—realize how infinitely more amazing YOUR bendable, capable, unique body is compared to that piece of plastic.

–Callie

Let’s talk about it: Kristen Brunello’s Eating Disorder Recovery Speakers Podcast

That’s exactly what eating disorder survivor, Kristen Brunello is doing with her Eating Disorder Recovery Speakers podcast—bravely talking about it—and I could not be more grateful.

“Eating disorders grow in the dark,” she says in her June 8th podcast interview, which is so true.

They’re such a lonely, isolating disease. For those who (sadly, just like me) fall down that wretched rabbit hole, they find they spend their days, their nights, their every meal with those two stupid voices in their head telling them to “Eat!” or “Don’t eat!” Had I heard someone like Brunello talking about it so long ago, I would have saved myself years of torture. Continue reading “Let’s talk about it: Kristen Brunello’s Eating Disorder Recovery Speakers Podcast”

Time Not Spent Wasted: A Review of Marya Hornbacher’s Memoir

My time spent reading Marya Hornbacher’s book was anything but that. Wasted was probably the most honest account of an eating disorder I have ever read. The most shocking and intense, too. While every other author I’ve encountered has written about their own experience battling an eating disorder has been 100% honest, Marya’s incredible writing and dark humor, combined with her courage to continue to dig beyond just the awful “this is what I did” but, further, to the horrifying “this is why” moved me.

Wasted was probably the most honest account of an eating disorder I have ever read. The most shocking and intense, too.

While I understand Marya’s tone may not be for everyone, I am a 100% believer in calling myself on my own bullshit. I can’t always tell when I’m fooling myself (because my brain, when it wants to be, is quite good at it), but I agree with Marya that when you sense it—when you have some wave of reality wash over you and you then see the lines your brain has been feeding you are lies—you have to call yourself on your own BS. It’s the most important thing to do, so you can disempower that particular line of thinking from ever being able to grip you again. One fantastic example of this:

Marya talks about the “collective perfect body” that she and many of her young peers seemed to be striving toward. Marya notes all of the girls she was surrounded by in her younger years, who were talking constantly about their weight, their bodies, their diets, etc., seemed to be trying to attain the “perfect body.” Looking back, Marya discovers it seemed they were all striving toward the same perfect body, a collective perfect body, which, when those of us trying to recover can finally pull the veil of lies from our eyes, know is impossible.

Realizing your body, my body, can only be what it can be, nothing more, can be a harsh reality to face, but it is reality.

None of us can have the same “perfect body,” but giving up that dream is the hard part. Realizing your body, my body, can only be what it can be, nothing more, can be a harsh reality to face, but it is reality. The thought that you can attain any shape other than your own is a lie.

I also admire Marya’s attempt not to diagnose or offer a cure, but simply to explain what happened to her and why, her understanding of it at least. I do believe her analysis, that sometimes people with eating disorders seem to dramatize their disease to feel powerful and special, has merit. The thought of being normal and just eating and letting your body be whatever it is going to be seems almost so mundane that it paralyzes people. They don’t want to be mundane. They want to pursue something powerful and great and, for many, an eating disorder fills that role. This reminded me of Portia de Rossi’s struggle in Unbearable Lightness.

Marya’s talk of “letting go” toward the very end of her spellbinding tale almost blinded me, it was so spot-on with my own experience.

I agree with Marya’s assessment that eating and trying to be normal can feel like giving up, like failing. I’ve often said the hardest part for me was the letting go because that’s exactly what it felt like. Like I was striving for something hard but worth it, then I just gave up. Marya’s talk of “letting go” toward the very end of her spellbinding tale almost blinded me, it was so spot-on with my own experience.

While I have read many eating disorder memoirs, Marya’s probably touched me the most. Not simply because of the graphic truth of it (which will, no doubt, leave images with me that I believe will help me in many future moments when I am struggling with the decision of whether to skip a certain meal because of an old impulse to deprive myself – no more! Thank you, Marya!). But, her assessment of recovery was the most powerful to me, because I agree with her that it really never leaves you. Or, at least, it has not left me.

It’s not every meal, not every week, not every month, but I have never felt a moment that it has entirely gone away. But, I have felt, in every moment since I, as Marya explained it, felt ready to recover, that I am now stronger than that voice.

As Marya said, you can stop the bad eating habits and begin feeding your body properly, but the mind never forgets. Food never loses its tiny little nagging voice that picks at you. It’s not every meal, not every week, not every month, but I have never felt a moment that it has entirely gone away. But, I have felt, in every moment since I, as Marya explained it, felt ready to recover, that I am now stronger than that voice. I have tools and reasoning, and a hope and desire for the future, that can always overcome that voice, even though I believe it will never leave me.

I want to thank you, Marya, for putting yourself out there and braving the telling of your momentous tale. I appreciate your honesty, your humor, and—first and foremost—your exceptional writing. It is an incredibly powerful piece you have given us.

–Callie

Goldilocks and the Three Thanksgiving Pants

It’s true; I have three pairs of Thanksgiving pants for the three different phases of my eating past. I can’t go back in time and change what I did all those years. My past is still very much a part of me, so I have to find a way to face it, forgive it, and find some humor in it. I truly believe that is the best way to make peace with it. Look back and laugh a little.

When I looked back, I was surprised to find I had somehow channeled my inner Goldilocks (I guess I can chalk that up to my natural blonde locks) when I found I had evolved through three very different types of Thanksgiving pants. I also found it ironically hilarious that Goldilocks begins her plunder hungry, looking for food, and the first thing she does is sit down and eat a stranger’s whole bowl of porridge.

I had to laugh, realizing that was a pretty fitting testament to what my ED-self might have done back then. Hide your porridge folks, Goldie’s hungry and on the hunt! And, in true Goldilocks-style, that is exactly where my twenty years of porridge-plundering began—with pants way too small in an attempt to hide my hunger. Continue reading “Goldilocks and the Three Thanksgiving Pants”

Happy Halloween: Be a “Butter” You!

I wouldn’t have even needed to dress up for Halloween back then. I could have just gone as a pumpkin with those orange-colored hands!

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While it’s a little hard to tell in this photo, I was sporting fingers I had turned orange by eating too much butter spray. Did I know it was causing my slow pumpkin-transformation at the time?

Heck no!

I thought a yellowy goo that tasted like salty heaven but boasted NO calories, not a single one, could only be good for me. But, in true Halloween style, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter SPRAY is plastic in a mask, only dressing up as real butter.

This, year, let’s keep it real! Be a “butter” you : ) – the real you! The one whose size and shape you love because it is unique to you. Anyone else trying to be you would need a disguise. When I look at it that way, it makes me feel like a pretty cool person, one no one else can be.

Dress yourself up and head out on the town! But know that there is only one single, solitary Y.O.U. deep down!

Happy Halloween, peeps! 🎃

–Callie

Be a Food Boss: Make Cooking a Priority to Make Yourself a Better Person

This is something very important I learned about food. The more time you spend with it, both in the selection process at the grocery store or farmer’s market, in the prep process as you wash and chop it, and especially in the cooking process—as you sizzle, spice, and meld all of those amazing flavors together—you gain a much greater respect for food. Now, how does respect help you fix your relationship with food? Well, if you respect something, you’re far less likely to abuse it, mistreat it, or waste it, right?

Think of it like a relationship you’ve been building with a superior co-worker or your boss. Maybe you’ve been working hard to get projects in ahead of time, come to meetings with fresh ideas, be more reliable in the workplace, or just come to work with a better attitude in hopes of being seen by that co-worker or boss as someone who brings value to the team. That takes a lot of time, patience, diligence, and commitment to build that relationship, to be that reliable, valuable person.

… if you respect something, you’re far less likely to abuse it, mistreat it, or waste it, right?

And, you do it, because the acknowledgement is something you want, something that will make you feel accomplished and good about yourself. You do that because you respect your boss and you want your boss to respect you. Now with all the time and conscious effort you put into that, would you decide to come to work one day super late, looking disheveled and tired as hell, miss a meeting and a deadline and give only the excuse: “I didn’t have time to do that?”

Absolutely not! Not only would it simply be mortifying because that’s not the person you are. You would never BE that person. But, it would also undo all of that very hard work you put in to impress your boss, unraveling a lot of the hard-earned respect you had gained. Now, stick with me for a minute. I promise I’m taking you to great, revelatory places: Continue reading “Be a Food Boss: Make Cooking a Priority to Make Yourself a Better Person”