February 23-March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I have the same feelings I have of this Week as I do of the many Months out there. Black History Month, Women’s History Month–they limit our potential as growing, thinking humans to expand our grasp on our collective memory to an arbitrarily assigned date bracket on a Western-hegemonic calendar. That is to say, history is history. It should always be celebrated.
However! What I’ve presented is a perfect-world scenario. In the real imperfect world where I trip over air and drop the only clean fork into a cobweb, we need these Months and Weeks because without them, our history would (unfortunately) fall painfully flat. Without them, how could we take ourselves seriously? I dream of a future when Black history is more than 28 days of special Facebook posts. And I dream of a world where Eating Disorder awareness isn’t hindered by main-stream misinterpretations.
Because, here are the facts. Over 30 million people will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime, and chances are no one will notice. Eating disorders are not determined by weight or appearance. They affect women and men of all ages. They are a disorder, but they can be beaten. I cannot emphasize enough the value of early detection and constant support. Take some time to educate yourselves this week, if not every week, on issues like eating disorders, body awareness, and acceptance. It could save someone’s life.
In celebration, I thought I’d post a picture of myself from my senior year of college and a picture of myself today. I am not going to post my story here. That would require weeks of mental preparation and many, many drafts. I just want to put it out there that I am proof of the importance of seeking help early on. Without the intuition of my close friends and their remarkable support, I don’t know what would have happened.
I wanted and needed to say this because I know it has not been easy with me the past couple of years. I have had bad days, and I haven’t always accepted the help you have given me. But know that I would not be where I am without you, and know that I owe you a great big one. Thank you.
So, without further ado: 2012-2014.
Okay, so it’s hard to tell because I no longer own a camera, so gratuitous photos of my body are no longer a thing. But I’ll tell you, I wasn’t sure how I would feel looking at pictures of myself from before graduation. Most people wouldn’t be able to see how much I’ve grown, but I sincerely hope the people who hug me can feel it. I sincerely hope the people who love me can tell. Because, I’ll tell you, I’ve grown. I’m stronger, physically and mentally. My body is a fortress and it can carry me anywhere.