I'm No Longer Skinny, But I'm Healthier

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide, eating disorders, and self harm.

I was a skinny kid.  My mom used to joke that I would never be over 100 pounds.  My friends were jealous that I could eat anything and not gain weight.  Being skinny became a personality trait; it was who I was.

I never worked to be skinny. My dad told me that it was in my genetics to be skinny and slightly muscular. So I ignored fruits and vegetables, instead opting for pizza and french fries and ice cream. I assumed I would be this way until I was an adult.

Then, when I was 16, I was hospitalized for a week for suicidal ideation. I had been severely depressed for weeks before. I denied myself food as a form of self harm; I thought so little of myself that I didn’t believe I deserved to eat. While hospitalized, my medications were adjusted. I wanted to eat, but I felt nauseous at the thought of food. I lost even more weight.

I don’t remember how much I weighed when I was discharged. I was skeletal, still unable to eat very much because of my meds. But I remember walking around in a sports bra and shorts and my friends commented on how good I looked. They said I had abs, that my waist looked great, that I had a thigh gap. They were comments that I was used to; I’d heard them my whole life. But I took them to heart.

 

 

Eventually I began gaining weight back. I hit 100 pounds again. Then I hit 110 pounds, then 120. My “abs” disappeared, my waist all but disappeared, my thighs became thicker.  I was no longer the skinny little kid who could eat anything without thinking twice about the nutritional value. Instead, I hated myself every time I ate anything. I was on the verge of developing an eating disorder multiple times.

It wasn’t until two years later that I began to realize that I wasn’t just skinny when I was discharged, I was malnourished. My mom was putting up pictures for my graduation party when I saw one of myself from days after I was released from the hospital. I made a comment about how skinny I was. My shorts were hanging loosely off my hips, my face was slim and I could see how people could think that I had abs.

My mom wasn’t having it.  “You were a shell of yourself,” she said.  “You were a skeleton.”

I still think about how I looked before I was hospitalized. Whenever I walk by a mirror, I turn to the side and look at my stomach. I’ve become more comfortable with wearing crop tops and showing off my body a little bit more. Whenever I yearn for a flat stomach or a small waist, I simply remember how I felt about myself in the days when I had those things and think about if my mental health is worth a “good” body.