At a counselling appointment I was assured that there were many other women “just in this university” who were going through the same things that I was. At first I felt relief, actually I felt a great sense of relief throughout the whole session. The idea was comforting because everyday I feel myself getting more lost in an illness that was pre-determined by the gendered body-hatred I was born into. Since then my relief has been replaced with a despair that hurts my head and strains my eyes. Binging, purging, restricting, hating my body, having a self-esteem that leaves me feeling crippled, these are all feelings and behaviours that I don’t talk about to just anyone. These are feelings and behaviours that are sometimes normalised (this self-hatred!), but most times they are dirty secrets.
It seems to me that a woman’s body is there for her to conquer, not for her to love. Men conquer countries, races, mountains, women. Women conquer their bodies and where they are unsuccessful they are constructed “other” by the media, through consumerism, by men, and in her very own mind. So many women, so many including me, live inside themselves, are caged inside a body that they do not want. My life is food, and vomit, and shit, and laxatives, and no food, and wanting to stay inside. My goals in life include: being able to maintain my body weight, losing weight, feeling okay in my body. I am not the only woman who feels this way.
As much as this was comforting at fist, it is almost too painful to bear when I thought twice. It’s nice to know that maybe I am not completely mental, that this is a much wider issue, not just MY issue. But I am realising how many women are walking around trapped in their mind’s horrid thoughts about their body. I am realising how many women are walking around in pain derived from body-hatred, and that they can’t think about anything else but the fact that their body is “other”, that their body has failed to live up to standard and so it must follow that their life be substandard too. It is not productive or exciting to think and live like this, but this is the way that we live. I carry the pain of my body and the pain that my sisters’ carry about their bodies. I am with you, but I cannot change.