Saturday, 17 February 2018

Changing Rooms, Belly Rolls and Body Acceptance // Eating Disorder Recovery #4

Hello lovely people,

Welcome to the fourth instalment in my Eating Disorder Recovery series (there will be a link at the end in case you missed the other 3). Recently, I had a changing room experience that I want to share with you. I was shopping for new clothes in TK Maxx (they've got some amazing bargains btw) and I picked up two cute printed dresses, in my usual size, to try on in the changing rooms (amongst other things), neither of which fitted. In fact, I couldn't even get them on without ripping the stitching, they were so tight.

And do you what I did?

I cursed myself and my body for growing into its present shape, for my big boobs and squishy tummy. For the acne that decorates my chest, neck, hips and back. For the hair that grows under my arms and on my legs and in between my legs. I cursed it all.

I looked into the mirrors and that's all I saw. I remembered distinctly being in the same situation when I was several sizes smaller (at the peak of my eating disorder), praying that my tummy would shrink to even tinier proportions. Contorting my body into all sorts of shapes, under the harsh changing-room lighting, to try and make it seem appealing to my ED. I remember the groan of hunger in my stomach and thinking of it as nothing but a consolation prize. I remember hearing the latest chart-
topper over the tannoy and having no urge to sing along because every droplet of happiness had been squeezed out of me and in its place was nothing but fear and disgust.

Standing in the changing room a few days ago, remembering that identical moment, I decided that this would not be a repeat of the past.

So I said fuck it, I'm going to take a long hard look in the mirror and say thank you. I am going to thank my body for keeping me alive. For being soft. For being real. For carrying me through every day. For enduring years of restriction and hatred. For being my home even when I want to do nothing but shrink it, change it and punish it. For allowing me to breathe, cry, laugh, write, love, touch, listen, speak, hug and sing. For bleeding every month and surviving it. For being my friend through thick and thin.

Then I sat down, in my mismatching underwear, mid meltdown and took photos. This was not a planned photo-shoot (clearly lol), just a spur of the moment burst of gratitude. I noticed how my belly rolled and creased and thought how bloody amazing and versatile it was. That we can literally fold ourselves like paper and our bodies are able keep our internal organs safe and well.I remembered how this time last year, and the year before that and the year before that, I was cold. But with my newfound softness, the fat around my belly keeps me warm. Newflash - all bellies roll when we sit down, fat bellies, thin bellies - it doesn't matter, and that's OK. You are not expected to have a flat stomach. It is not a prerequisite for feeling good about yourself. You do not have to hide your belly, it's softness or it's boney-ness from anyone or for anyone. You do not have to manipulate your body into the latest fashionable shape and size.


             


a love letter to my belly: a poem


darling,

i’m sorry we’ve not been getting along lately
it’s not you, it’s me
i just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you
i don’t tell you often enough but you are beautiful
your rounded shape is like knotted wood
your dappled skin a blanket of moss
your soft rolls cascade like a waterfall into a tranquil pond
your stretch marks are stripes of pure golden energy
your gurgling and giggling reminds me of your unquenchable spirit and your belly button is damn adorable


love always (even when I don't show it) xx



It's OK to struggle. Healing is not linear; it is not even sequential. It is OK to be triggered and to have negative thoughts, to even hate your body at times. But understand this: emotions are temporary. Energy cannot be created or destroyed only changed. So change it, slowly, softly, with plenty of tenderness. Next time you're in a changing room and something doesn't fit you, remember that just because that item of clothing is not worthy to hug your glorious form, doesn't mean that there won't be other items that will. And if you are a size 16 plus, and certain shops don't carry your size - THEIR LOSS. If their fashion isn't inclusive, they don't deserve your custom or their clothes on your rockin' body.

A final note...

I am aware of my privilege as I write this. I am a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, medium-sized gal. I do not and will not face half the stigma that those with larger bodies, those with darker skin, those with queer bodies, or those with disabled bodies do. I have the privilege of seeing bodies like mine celebrated on social media, in plus size fashion and in the body positive movement. I have the privilege of being able to buy new clothes when I outgrow my old ones. I am privileged. My voice is important but it is not the only one that deserves to be heard.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, sharing it with you has been quite a vulnerable thing for me to do.

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Until the next time,

Niamh xx

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