“chasing the perfect body was an obsession and if anything an excuse and a safety blanket for my eating disorder to hide behind”
For me, and I think for a lot of eating disorder sufferers, the idea of the ‘perfect’ body can be a major factor fuelling their disordered eating, I know for me this was certainly the case. I would see pictures in fashion magazines of women and men who were immaculate from head to toe. And I can remember thinking, and sometimes still think, “why don’t I look like that?” – (it is an easy mindset to slip into). There is one thing that all these pictures have in common, and that is that the models are extremely slim, with no cellulite and certainly no wobbly bits. In my mind, and I’m sure the minds of many others, this was the only way to be beautiful and be desirable, and achieving this meant losing weight. Effectively the discourse around body shape was and I think still is the thinner the better.
The health and wellness industry, which is partly responsible for creating the ‘perfect’ body is a multi-million dollar industry, who make their millions from drawing out insecurities and offering pictures of what society has decided people should strive towards, image-wise. They use pictures of the 0.01% who have 8 packs and legs longer than a long thing. Models are totally idolized by society, and don’t get me wrong they are bloody beautiful. But this obsession can be incredibly dangerous, especially I think to younger people who do not realise that there are thousands of factors that have contributed to their final look, other than diets and exercise.
Photoshop, genetics, plastic surgery … to name a few. And I don’t blame them because it’s all we ever see.
What I’m trying to say is that the images that we all see on the front of magazines or of our favourite influencers on Instagram are more often than not a load of bollocks. It takes them hours to get the perfect lighting to hide their cellulite (which is perfectly natural by the way) or to get the sun creating the perfect shadows to enhance the look of their abs. We only see their highlights, where they look the best they possibly could, but I guarantee you this is not what they look like, or the rest of society looks like 99.9% of the time. Yet still, these are the only photos we see. And this has created a warped sense of reality in regards to body image and contributes to low body confidence which often is a cause of many eating disorders.
When I was at my lowest weight, basically skeletal I was still thriving for the perfect body, I didn’t know precisely what this would look like but in my mind as long I was losing weight I was one step closer to having it. Basically, I was incredibly vain and thought that being skinny and having the ‘perfect’ body – the one that everyone wanted, would make me happy and make people love me. And this false belief can be a slippery slope towards patterns of disordered eating. For me chasing the perfect body was an obsession and if anything an excuse and a safety blanket for my eating disorder to hide behind.
At the time, the thigh gap trend was in full swing, because this was the latest beauty trend, that all the models had. Every girl I knew was obsessed with achieving the highly sought after beam of light to stream through their legs. I became fixated on achieving this. I couldn’t tell you how many “thigh gap workout” YouTube videos I must have watched- what a bloody waste of time that was. The sad thing was, I remember a boy saying to me that I was looking good and that I “even had a thigh gap”. This kind of comment only encourages those that are in a similar position to what I was. I thrived off of comments like this, it gave me a sort of high that I could only gain from losing weight. And this definitely stemmed from vanity and my physical appearance because in my mind the thinner I was, the prettier I was. Thankfully I am now in a place where I am comfortable with my body and can happily say that:
I love my body
I don’t wish I had a thigh gap
I’m happy in the knowledge that I will never have a thigh gap, because my thighs love each other so much that they just want to smooch each other the whole time, and I’m not about to break that party up.
There is no such thing as the 'perfect' body – its BULLSHIT
Eating disorders do not have one cause, everyone’s triggers are different. But I do think that the unrealistic body type that society tells us we should look like is contributing factor to a lot of people with eating disorders issues. The discourse around body image needs to change. There is no one ‘perfect body’ – we are all different and no diet or rigorous exercise routine can change this.
But that is ok and we need to normalise normal bodies – ones that have lumps, bumps and all the best bits.