"#BodyProbs" by Annie Nishida
Fuck that boy in seventh grade that sat across from me in homeroom. Every day, he’d greet me with a friendly, “Annie is f-f-f-fat.” It was a fake stutter he used for comedic effect, and it didn’t really land with our tablemates in my opinion, but nonetheless, his words still got to me. Was he a kind soul for being honest when no one else was, or was he just as an asshole that liked to humiliate me on a regular basis, as if his balls would shrivel up if he didn’t? Either way, for the first time in my life, I felt f-f-f-fat and u-u-u-ugly.
Fuck societal pressures that confirmed the words that came out of fake-stuttering-seventh-grade-dickhead’s mouth. I began noticing how impossibly pint-sized celebrities were, and wanted to be like that. Maybe if I were smaller, people wouldn’t have anything mean to say. Maybe boys would like me more. Maybe this would make me like myself more. The possibilities were endless and so very purported by the media. The solution to all of my problems seemed simple—lose weight. Duh.
Fuck the Jonas Brothers who toured the summer of 2008, when I was 16 years old and at the height of puberty. I was proudly obsessed with them, and I was scheduled to attend four of their concerts in a month’s time. Obviously, I was bound to come across them at some point and wanted to look damn good when the stars aligned and I got to make out with (fuck) Joe. To prepare for this moment, I ran in place for minutes (seconds?) at a time via Wii Fit but the results weren’t happening as quickly as I’d hoped. I needed to get down to a size Emma Watson (Joe’s celebrity crush, as reported by Tiger Beat), and I needed to do it faster than I could recite the lyrics to “Burnin’ Up.” Perhaps it was the fake-ass-stuttering boy in seventh grade, the seemingly universal opinion that skinny girls get more dick, a bad case of Jonas Fever, or a lethal combination of all three, but one day I decided I wasn’t beautiful enough.
Fuck perfectionism that constantly reminded me I wasn’t good enough, even 30 pounds lighter. For five years I found myself in a self-loathing cycle that consisted of me eating, feeling disgusting, eating more because I felt disgusting, and ending up doubled over in the bathroom in a misguided attempt to make myself feel worthy again. I would look at myself in the mirror post-purge, and be disappointed in myself not for having done it, but for eating in the first place. This left me feeling weak, irritable, and hungry enough to eat my own right foot until the day I decided I was done with it. And the second time I decided I was. And the third. Finally, around my billion-trillionth attempt to stop, I figured out what I was doing wrong—I was trying to navigate the Obstacle Course of Disordered Eating by myself, when in fact, I really needed an Obstacle Course of Disordered Eating buddy. That’s when I opened up about it to just one person. Because of that one person, though, I finally started to feel understood, supported, and like I wasn’t alone or gross or abnormal. Not immediately, but eventually, five years of hateful remarks I’d aimed at myself started to subside.
Fuck hashtags that help bring up those bad feelings. This journey hasn’t been perfect or easy, and there are some days that I find myself scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing tiny girls posting tiny bikini pictures and tiny captioning them #fatgirlproblems #fatlife #lardymclard for the sake of receiving “no u aren’t omg ur so skinny” comments. This leads to me stand in front of a mirror, pinch my stomach, and chastise it for existing—because if these girls think they’re #fat4life, then what does that make me? Some days I have slip-ups, when I drink the Kool-Aid so graciously provided by the nasty thoughts I let harvest in my head. As I write this, however, I have gone 42 days in a row putting my health first, and telling the sputtered insults, idolization of literal human incarnations of stick people drawings, and #ironic #fatgirlbutreallyskinny remarks to GTFO.
Fuck the stigma surrounding mental illnesses that makes people like me feel like they should ashamed of their battles. I’m not a freak for being influenced by biological factors, insensitive comments, and images of “beautiful people.” I’m not weak for “allowing” my mind to be overrun by thoughts of food, becoming perfect, my own self-image, or how those three affect each other. I’m also not an individual whose story is unique. So many people have similar experiences (perhaps with less Jonas Brothers), but the way our problems have been stereotyped makes it difficult to talk about.
I’m sharing my story not because I think I’m special, but because I know I’m not. There will always be stuttering ass-hats in school, articles about stick-thin famous peoples’ diets, and Jonas Brothers (they’ll reunite, just watch), that, when ingested in the right combination, can do some seriously damage to one’s self-image. When that happens, it helps to talk about it with people who understand and who have perhaps been through the same thing, but the only way we’ll feel comfortable enough to do so is if conversation is encouraged. And also, like, pet furry animals, because that’ll probably help, too.
*image by Katie Nishida