The first time I cried over my physical appearance, I was five.
I remember it like it was yesterday...I was playing quietly on the playground at Springdale Elementary School, when Buddy Lewis, all rat tail, freckles and glasses, ran up to me and said, "Lucinda's got a big butt! Fatty, fatty two by four!!!"
Of course, at the age of five, boys do this sort of thing just to irritate girls. If Buddy Lewis would have said that to twenty-six year old Lucinda I would have laughed in his face and told him to blow it out his ear. However, I wasn't twenty-six...I was five.
I was also socially inept and very self conscious at such a young age. So, instead of telling Buddy to screw off, I simply got up, and without wiggling my big, five year old bottom, walked as stiff as I could to the bathroom and cried.
This was the first time I cried over the size of my bottom, and it certainly wouldn't be my last.
Throughout my elementary and junior high school experiences, I would see things about other girls that I found fascinating. Their braces, their long perfect hair, the way they walked or dribbled a basketball. I would try to emulate these girls by flipping my hair, walking with an extra bounce in my step or arching my back. Most of the time I ended up looking like I had a sprained shoulder and epilepsy, but I continued to try.
In junior high, I noticed that all of my friends were losing their "baby fat", but mine apparently had some sort of vice grip around my stomach and ass. I joined track...because my friends did. Yeah, while all of my friends were entered in the running events, I was entered in the Shot Put. (Go figure)
It was the summer of my eighth grade year that I decided I would just stop eating. At first, it was difficult, but after about four days the hunger pains subsided. I drank a lot of water to keep my stomach full, and allowed myself one cup of grapes a day. For the first two weeks, it was easy to hide the fact that I wasn't eating. My mom worked a lot, and it was mostly just my sister and I at home. Whenever I went to someone's house, or to my granny's I would feign sickness so I didn't have to eat.
It was incredible. The weight just fell off. I remember one day my mother stopped in the kitchen, looked at me and said, "Wow. We need to buy you some more clothes. You're losing your baby fat."
I continued eating only grapes and crackers for two months. If I was forced to eat because I went out with my family or friends, I only ate a small amount and would normally get sick quickly afterward. Four weeks before my first day of high school, I weighed a shocking one hundred and ten pounds. At the beginning of summer, I had weighed one hundred and forty pounds.
I was unable to continue with my anorexic behavior because I couldn't hide it during school. I liked the fact that I was able to control my body by not eating, but I didn't want the world to find out about it. Most of the time I would eat a bag of popcorn or Funnyuns at school, and about twenty minutes later would have spastic vomiting in the girls room. It was during one of these vomiting sessions when the thought occured to me that maybe instead of not eating anything, I could eat, but then force the food out quickly.
In one day, my Anorexia morphed into Bullemia.
A few weeks went by and instead of hearing, "Wow, Lucy. You lost a lot of weight over the summer! Have you been on a diet?" I heard, "I guess your metabolism changed, huh? You can eat whatever and you don't gain any weight."
In addition the purging, I began exercising vigorously. Almost always at night, in my room. I would do one hundred or two hundred sit ups and run in place for hours while everyone else in my house slept.
Every thought I had revolved around what I ate, and when I ate it. I can't even begin to count the hours that were spent in front of my bedroom mirror, examining my bony body, and wishing that I could just get that last little bit of fat off. There were times I would poke my little invisible fat places so hard that I would bruise myself.
The truth is, I looked like Skeletor with a big poof of blonde, curly hair on top. I smiled, and hid my bony little body under my blue,school jacket, and hoped no one would find out.
I learned, over time, that my anorexia was something I would do in stages. I would realize what I was doing was wrong and I would stop. I would eat healthy and be a normal teenager, and then I would catch sight of myself in a shop window and think, "Geez, my legs look huge", and the cycle would begin again.
Countless hours were spent standing in front of my mirror turning this way, then that way and sucking in my stomach and pushing my collarbones out. It was exhausting.
My Senior year of high school, I came to terms with the fact that I would never be svelte. I liked chocolate too much, and I had, what my Granny liked to call, "The Barr Butt". (Sadly, it's a family heirloom and we can't get rid of it.) I was never what I would call fat, but what most would call "curvy". I had big breasts, an enormous backside and a weird, little waist...but it was the only body I was ever going to have, and I had to learn to love it.
Since that fateful day in 2003, I have carried and birthed two children from my body. I breastfed my children, which, as most of you women know, turn your breast into flat banana boobies when you're done.
The good news is, I married a man that has loved my body in every shape it's taken on. When I was in high school, he liked my big butt. When I was pregnant...Well, maybe we'll skip to post partum.... After I had the children, he liked the enormous ta-tas. He is able to make me feel pretty regardless of my size, and for that I can never thank him enough.
I have ballooned up to a startling two-hundred and fifteen pounds, and shrunk down to a scary one-hundred and twenty. I have been in a constant tug of war with my body since I was five, and I'm putting my foot down to say, "Enough is enough."
I have been to one side of the scale and back, and I am finally at peace with my body. I can honestly say, that I look and feel better now, than I did at sixteen.
I know now, that there is nothing I can do about the fact that my stomach looks like a Sharpe's face or that my breasts look like two sad bananas. I'm also not going to wax poetic about how stretch marks are symbols of your journey through life, because that is bullshit.
Stretchmarks suck. No one likes them, almost everyone has them. Shut up with your poetic, stretchmark crap. No one cares, and you're stupid if you believe it.
The main reason I am sharing all of this with you is because...there are people you know and love that are probably struggling with these crippling illnesses. They are terrible diseases, and it's hard to overcome them alone. If you even suspect that someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, don't question yourself. Talk to them. You could give them the gift of time spent away from the mirror...living their lives to the fullest.