“I wish I had your problems. You don’t know how lucky you have it!”
At many times in my life, I have found myself thinking that another person’s problems would be so much easier than my own. I listened longingly to people moan about being too busy to eat or lamenting their inability to gain weight. In some of my darkest moments, I would pray to wake up anorexic so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of being obese just the emptiness of not eating. I would look at skinny people and envy their ability to go through life not worrying about what they eat or if their clothes fit. I was so wrapped up in my own body issues I assumed I was in a significant minority.
How naive and self absorbed I was to think that only a few people in extreme situations have food issues! The longer I am on my own journey, the more I feel the true minority are people who don’t wrestle with their own body issues.
About a year ago I came across an independent film called Disfigured, and it really struck a chord with me. The film follows the two main characters: one an obese woman who is attempting to deal with her own body image issues through attending a Fat Acceptance support group, and a recovering Anorexic woman who attempts to join the group because she sees herself as fat. As their tentative friendship grows the two women begin to open up and share their distorted body image issues with each other. Eventually coaching each other with lessons on anorexia and compulsive eating. The women are desperate to shed their own disorder and see the other extreme behavior as a possible cure.
This film does a good job of probing the deep dark places that people with eating disorders go in their own minds. I could see myself clearly in their desperation to be fixed. It is so easy to understand, intellectually, that there are no easy fixes to weight and food issues. Emotionally speaking I have, in the past, fantasized about having an opposite eating disorder. In the end no one has an easy time overcoming their demons but they gain new perspective on what it means to have body image issues and it is clear their hearts have been opened and healed, if only a little.
Heavy people wear their body and food issues on the outside for all to see, while many who don’t eat get to blend in. My hope is for people to start to open up and talk to each other. I share my own experience to inspire conversation and motivation. The process of living well is much easier to navigate in a community that will cheer when you succeed and encourage when you falter. Talking to other people about their own struggles has both expanded my perspective and bolstered my self confidence. I no longer feel isolated with my very obvious issues; instead I feel liberated and part of a vast community of people all striving to be their very best self.