I’ve been reading Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives by Aimee Liu. Let me start off by saying that I like it, I really do. I feel like it brings up a lot of really nice points. I absolutely recommend it.
However, I do have one really big problem with this book. It’s a problem that I have with most eating disorder books, actually; they only seem to present really extreme cases. I’ve read dozens of stories about people that have been struggling with their eating disorders for 13 years, anorexics that wasted away to 70 pounds. Where are all the stories about people that maybe didn’t get quite so bad? I’d like to read some stories about people that maybe don’t describe how they went in and out of hospitals from the time they were twelve. Obviously some books are WAY worse than others and go into the weight/diet/exercise routine of the suffering individual. But even many beneficial books that leave all these details out focus on how sick the individual was. I am absolutely interested in their story, I promise, but I’d like to read about how their eating disorder originated, what purpose it served for them, how they got over it. Not how many years they had spent in residential treatment or how many different therapists they had seen.
I can see how stories like these are really important, they emphasize that eating disorders are extremely serious, that they are not jokes or choices, and often, that recovery is possible. But at the same time, they really frustrate me. First of all, they present this idea that you have to be absolutely dying to have an eating disorder; a stereotype that I think is a really big problem to begin with. They also bring out the competitive nature of eating disorders. Something about it makes you want to be the sickest, to prove yourself. Which is so extremely problematic when you’re competing for something that only ends in death. I must admit that I have been jealous of people that have gotten to low weights or have been in and out of the hospital. And I’m angry about it. I’m angry that I’m jealous of them. I know I shouldn’t be, and I’m working really hard on it. There’s just something about not feeling “good enough” at my eating disorder. That eating disorder voice uses it to tell me that I’m a failure, to give me more of a reason to restrict, to tell me that no one cares about me, to tell me that I’ll never be good at anything. Because I’m hurting just as badly as the people that HAVE been in and out of the hospital, even though I may not look like it. This tangent brings me to my main point…
The rest of us are hurting badly too! Eating disorder, no eating disorder, bad body image, low self esteem, whatever. I’ve heard SO many people say that they “don’t deserve” to get better because they haven’t gotten sick enough. I’ve said that myself. But it just isn’t true. No one deserves to be sick. No one deserves to hate themselves. Why should people be constantly trying to tone, firm, diet, tighten, shrink, or whatever. We’ve been taught to hate ourselves. To compare ourselves to others. To never be content with who we are. To want to be thinner, prettier, smarter, wealthier, funnier, everything.
I’m not 100% sure where I was going with this. I just sort of kept writing. I think my main point is that I’m angry. I’m really fucking mad. I’m mad that this happened to me, to the people I know with eating disorders, everyone without eating disorders that doesn’t like something about themselves. I’m mad that we have to DESERVE to feel good about ourselves and our bodies. That we’ve learned that we shouldn’t appreciate ourselves. I’m trying right now to channel that anger into my recovery and I want other people to do the same. Whether you’re recovering from an eating disorder or bad body image or low self esteem or whatever. There is no “deserving” to feel good about your body and take care of it properly. That’s something that everyone should be able to do. And other people, the diet industry, your fucking high school GPA, whatever, should not take away from you.