TW: This article will be discussing issues such as depression and eating disorders. Please read at your own discretion. I would also like to state that I am not a health professional and I write this based on my personal experience only.
Growing up, I was a generally very happy kid. I had (and still do have!) an incredibly fortunate life and absolutely no complaints about my childhood. However, I was always a little bit on the chubbier side as a kid. I was also always the tallest girl in my class, towering over almost all of the boys my own age, and this combination led to quite a bit of bullying. I was teased for being bigger, told by other kids that I should eat less, and as the age of social media came about, things only worsened for me socially. I remember specifically that on the day that I was finally allowed to make a Facebook account, someone in my grade called me a “fat bitch” over messenger for literally no reason other than that I looked different than most other girls my age. The body-shaming comments that I received as a kid have really stuck with me into adulthood.
By my grade eight year, I weighed 220 pounds and spent a lot of my time eating. Eating provided a sense of comfort because at this point, I had begun to feel really emotional about my weight. I was starting to become interested in boys, but my experiences with them made me feel as though they weren’t interested. All of my friends would get asked to slow dance at our school dances, but I was never asked a single time. At the beginning of high school, my friends started to talk to boys more often. I always felt like I was on the sidelines of my social group because of my body.
In grade nine, I decided that I really wanted to make a change. I began learning more about calorie counting and how this type of behaviour can lead to weight loss. I started being more cautious about what I ate and restricting certain foods that I deemed “bad” because they were higher in carbs or sugar. Low and behold, I began to lose weight.
Photo Credit: Julia Domingo (@julia.mazzoli / @passthekimchi)
Within a year, I lost 40 pounds. It was at this point that I began to see some changes in my social life. I felt like I wasn’t an outcast or the “fat friend” anymore, I had more interest from boys, and I actually wanted to go out and socialize. At the same time though, I continuously convinced myself that my weight loss wasn’t enough, so I kept up the restrictive behaviours and lost another 15 pounds. I could start to feel this pattern taking a real negative turn. I was not only counting calories meticulously, but also obsessing over every single thing I ate. I believe I began to develop body dysmorphia around this time as well. Although I was 70 pounds lighter, I still saw myself as the 220lb girl I once was. It terrified me to think that I could ever be that again. Really, it wasn’t even because of the physical weight as much as it was about all of the negative experiences I had at that weight.
At my lightest weight, I had developed an eating disorder. I decided to switch to a public school for my grade 12 year of high school because I so badly wanted to fit in with a crowd. I continued to deprive myself severely of calories, and any time that I thought I had eaten too much, a cycle of purging occurred. I was so completely unhappy with my body, criticizing it almost more than I had when I was overweight. The amount of praise that I got for being so “healthy” and losing weight only fueled my disordered habits.
Even though I was struggling so much internally, I had finally gotten what I wanted all along — to fit in. I was “popular” at school and I felt that people actually took the time to get to know me instead of just labeling me as “the big girl.” But it wasn’t enough to make me happy in my own body.
I continued to neglect myself for years until my parents noticed that something was going on with me. I was extremely unhappy, now dealing with depression along with my eating disorder. Looking back on it now, I was almost happier when I was overweight because I didn’t constantly obsess over what my body looked like, what food I was eating, or how many calories I was consuming. I also realize now how much physical appearance dictates the way that people are treated in our society. I often wonder how, even though I am the exact same person regardless of my weight, people would have treated me at my new school had I been overweight.
To this day, I have a negative relationship with food and I often still struggle with issues related to my body. I am continuously working on bettering myself in these areas. Although my weight loss had several positive impacts, it also had a slew of negative effects on my life, some of which I never could have imagined. Teenage me thought that the more weight I lost, the happier I would be. But I have come to realize that no physical aesthetic, amount of attention, or drastic weight loss will guarantee you any degree of happiness. It’s the one thing that truly must come from within.
I write my story in the hopes that it may inspire people to be kinder to one another and to judge others for who they are as people, rather than how they look. We often think of weight-loss as conducive to better health. While it can be, it’s important to remember that we can’t possibly know about someone’s physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing just by looking at their bodies. Here is a reminder to avoid commentating about someone’s outward appearance and instead focus on complimenting them for confidence, positivity or resilience.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please see the resources below.
Canadian Mental Health Association:
National Eating Disorder Information Centre:
https://nedic.ca/ (Toll-Free Help Line: 1-866-633-4220)
Ontario Community Outreach Program for Eating Disorders:
KFLA Public Health (Kingston):