A journey to find individual beauty
I started noticing my struggles with food my freshman year of high school. Up until that point, I was blissfully unaware of eating disorders and what it meant to be beautiful in today’s society. Up until high school began, I had a rather good sense of the world; I believed everyone was beautiful, including me. Everyone just looked different. When freshman year started, though, I realized I was a little thicker than most girls. Granted, I’m Cuban and should be proud of my heritage, but I started feeling a little dejected that I wasn’t a size zero, two, four or even six. I was a size eight or 10. I wasn’t fat by any standard, but I was nowhere close to skinny.
These thoughts started creeping into my mind more prevalently throughout freshman year and got worse when I turned 15. Girls started commenting on all of these diets they were on (I had never been on a diet in my life, at that point). I felt like the food struggle was a world entirely unto itself, making girls feel inferior because apparently “skinny equals pretty.”
As much as I don’t believe that now, three years ago I wasn’t convinced. I started to feel ugly and big, making myself into this monster I didn’t want to be. I started to hate my curves and decided to take a stand. One day I just decided that I wasn’t going to eat again until I was skinny, and as much as I wanted to follow that, my willpower did not support me. As soon as my stomach grumbled I caved. I was so upset with myself that I refused to eat again after that, and I went a little longer this time before caving.
This cycle grew worse throughout high school; I would go without eating for days, then gorge myself to make up for starving myself. I would eat so much at once that I would feel nauseous and it was hard to move. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I knew about anorexia, but that wasn’t me. I knew about bulimia, but that wasn’t me either. I figured I was alone in my eating habit — that no one would understand how I could go days without eating and then all of a sudden become an eating machine, just to repeat the same sick cycle all over again. (Plus, I never lost any weight this way).
I was sitting in health class one day junior year and we were reading about eating disorders. I was frustrated because it reminded me of how screwed up I was. Then, I read something that changed my whole perspective: Binge-Eating Disorder. I started reading further into it and realized that was exactly what I was going through, yet I didn’t know about it because it isn’t a popular eating disorder. I was so relieved that I could classify my eating habits into a category, and I didn’t feel alone anymore.
But even with this knowledge, I still couldn’t change my eating habits. It wasn’t until I almost fainted in school from not eating that I decided to get help. I confided in one of my friends, and she helped me get better. I probably should have seen a therapist, but in any case I no longer have that disorder. I started exercising every day and going on mile-long runs to get in shape. I would eat fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch and something protein-filled for an early dinner. I drank a lot of water and milk. I instantly started feeling healthier and more in control, and although it was hard to kick, it became so much easier once I had a friend supporting me, eating lunch with me, and making sure I was exercising and eating regularly and healthily.
I am at a healthy weight today and feel more comfortable with how I look. I still work out every day and eat at normal times. It was definitely a journey that made high school more stressful than it had to be, but nonetheless a journey I unfortunately had to go through to grasp what real beauty is and learn to be comfortable in my own skin, curves and all.
Courtney Ravelo is a freshman writing and French double major. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.