A series of posts uncovering what is really beneath my anorexia and depression.
Reason 4. Genes load the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.
‘Merica. Ain’t it great (again)? In many areas, I’d say NOOOOOOPE, including the messages our culture gives us about women’s body image (and men’s frankly) and the standard for beauty.
I’ve read lots of books on this topic for the past 18 months. It’s no surprise, but yet we seem to be Stepford women, following the lies and garbage anyway.
I think Ana really introduced herself to me around 7th grade.
Ana in 1991 (7th grade):
Your best friend has boobs. She buys size 1 or 3, while you have to get 5 or 7. Look around, everyone else has a boyfriend. Oh great, now you need glasses on top of the braces. You are not pretty. Boys do not like you. You have Kirk Cameron on your bedroom wall? Ha, you wish. That YM magazine you read? Come on, we both know you can’t keep up with any of them.
Ana in 1996 (high school graduation):
Well, you graduated with honors and got into the college you wanted but who cares? You STILL have never dated anyone. Your face, I just don’t know what to do with your face. At least your weight is average, even though your best friend is still much smaller. Look at who is popular. Look at the cheerleaders with their beautiful hair and their super cute uniforms. You could never be one of them. You tried to be cool on the softball team, but they were really laughing at you not with you. You aren’t even cool at CHURCH, now that’s lame.
Ana in 2002 (West Africa):
You weigh HOW MUCH?! I know you want to think that doctor lied to you, but let’s face it, you’re fat now. You are the ugliest, fattest girl in West Africa. Even the Africans are complimenting how big you are. Your friend introduced you to Gilmore Girls. Don’t you want to be like Lorelai? She’s so skinny and funny and cool. What about all those Friends DVDs you’ve been watching? Rachel and Monica? Think again. That pair of shorts your roommate has that you want to fit in? OMG, I rolled over laughing when you came up with that idea.
Oh wait, you’re finally serious? Okay, let’s do it. You’ll need to eat what I tell you, exercise when I say to, and only go where I approve. But I promise, if you follow my advice, you’ll be beautiful…well, that face may still be there, but I can get you skinny. And maybe finally we can get a guy to look at you.
Ana in 2014-15 (social media took over my world):
All these people have better lives than you. They do fun stuff. They are creative and smart. Your high school friends are still so skinny…oh except that one. You don’t want to look like her. Their marriages look perfect too. You need kids. Perfect people have kids. You won’t have anyone if JJ dies unless you have a kid. Since your parents died, no one REALLY loves you. They invite you along, but wouldn’t miss you for long. Looking at People Magazine again? They are all so thin. You can look like them. Again, not in the face, but the body. We can do that. You need to be skinny since you don’t have anything else going for you.
Ana in 2018 (11 years of Seattle, 10 years an orphan):
You got the kid. She made you fat, but you could’ve lost the weight faster if you wanted to. You have the husband and the kid and a good job, but you live in SEATTLE. I need the sun as much as you do. I don’t want to live here anymore, and neither should you. Let’s see what we can do, since we can’t move. Oh yeah. You can at least be happy with your body.
Look, you still can’t do anything about your face. But you can damn sure do something about your body. You can’t be pretty, but you can be skinny. Look at all those women out there. Everyone else is thinner than you. When you walk by people, count how many you think you could wear their pants. I don’t care how tall or short they are, or how old they look. You should be able to fit into anyone’s pants.
If you eat this piece of bread, you’ll feel the fat immediately. If you eat something for breakfast, you know you’ll be out of control the rest of the day. You have to save your calories for the evening because you know that’s when you can’t help yourself. If you’re that hungry, just have another Diet Coke.
Ana’s voice constantly screams at me all the ways I’m not measuring up to society’s beauty ideals. The TV, the movies, the social media, WALKING DOWN THE STREET. It all feels overwhelming and impossible.
Genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger. It feels like I’m dealing with a machine gun that has ammunition for infinity and I’m trapped in a room the size of a small closet.