Saturday, July 31, 2010

Then vs Now

Sometimes I feel like I will never recover completely. Sometimes I feel like I've recovered all I can, that I'm as "better" as I'll ever be. And then something comes along to remind me how complicated this process is.

I only know how far I've come when I consider how sick I used to be. tomorrow is August 1st, 2010. My eating disorder started to emerge in 2004 (though I would argue I had eating-disordered thoughts since I was 8 years old. I just never acted on them). Here's a look back at each August 1st of the last 6 years, starting with when it all began.

August 1st, 2004: I was at the heaviest weight of my life. My dad had been dead a little more than a year. I was depressed. I was vulnerable. I was miserable. I went on a diet because I refused to go up another pants size. I cut out bread. Then I cut out cheese, switched regular soda for diet. I started losing weight quickly. This is where things went terribly wrong. This is where I realized the voice in my head wasn't my own. I made the mistake of listening when it told me it was okay not to eat.

August 1st, 2005: Anorexia had taken over. I had lost so much weight no one recognized me. I was living on campus and going home to stay with my mother on the weekends. I would eat dinner Sunday night at my mom's house, and I wouldn't eat anything until the following Friday night when I made it back. All week at school I drank water and diet soda. If I ate anything, it was lettuce. Or an apple. Or some crackers. I was buying new clothes every week because I was losing weight so quickly. All of my hair was falling out. I stopped getting my period. I thought that I was happy. That's because I didn't want out yet, and I was still stupid enough to think that I had it all under control and could stop whenever I wanted, on my own terms.

August 1st, 2006: I was living at home with my mother and working at the hospital. This was before we lost our house. I was in college, but I was so sick I had moved off campus and back to my hometown. I took two classes online. I didn't eat at all. What I did eat, I threw up immediately. Bulimia was at its worst. I was throwing up 8 times a day everyday. Sometimes I threw up just water. I threw up until I cried. I threw up until I was hoarse. I was miserable and depressed. I wanted to die. My mother came home from work everyday expecting to find me dead. I was seeing doctors and throwing up in hospital bathrooms.

August 1st, 2007: I was still an undergrad and back in school full time, living in an apartment on campus. I was still throwing up, though probably 5 times a day instead of 8. I worked out at least twice a day. I counted calories. I lived with a roommate who didn't care or notice if or what I ate. Sometimes I still didn't eat for days. I started seeing the boyfriend I have now. He lectured me on the importance of food. We fell in love. My mom lost our house.

August 1st, 2008: I moved to Las Vegas with my boyfriend and had lived there for three months. I didn't eat much and I was throwing up at least once a day. I was going to the gym a lot. I weighed less than I weigh now. My boyfriend and I fought all the time.

August 1st, 2009: I was still living in Las Vegas. I wasn't throwing up anymore, but I wasn't eating "regularly." I was a waitress inside the Palazzo. I never ate lunch. If rarely ate breakfast. When I did, it was something simple like a banana. I ate dinner everyday, mostly because my boyfriend made me.

August 1st, 2010: I eat daily. I try to eat three meals a day, though sometimes it's only two. I don't throw up at all. It doesn't mean I don't want to. It doesn't mean I don't think about it, but my mind is strong enough to tell the truth from the lies. I know which voice to listen to, and for the most part, I choose correctly. I am not better, but I am getting there. Let's be cliche-- I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is a way out. I see it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Homemade Vegan Blueberry Pie

Yesterday was terrible. But today, today was wonderful: just more proof that recovery is a process, but recovery is worth it.

Tonight was date night. My boyfriend took me to my favorite vegetarian/vegan restaurant. I had a delicious pasta dish. I ate a lot of it but he had to finish it. To top it off, we split a slice of homemade vegan blueberry pie and homemade vegan soy ice cream. Yum. In the past I would have never eaten dessert. I will admit that tonight I did acknowledge that it had more calories than I needed, but I think that's something most people acknowledge when they have dessert. It doesn't stop them from eating. I don't feel guilty. It didn't kill me. It was amazing. At one point in my life, I thought I would never be able to eat dessert again.

Never say never.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"If you don't leave home you suffocate, if you go too far you lose oxygen."

I just saw some beautiful new photos of my nieces that made me cry. I cried because they are so grown up. They have been changing and growing everyday, and I have not been there for it. It's been three years since I left home, or home left me. They are just children. They don't understand the things that have happened. It's all a terribly complicated situation. Home is a touchy word for me. Home hurts. I feel homesick and there is no cure. I ache for home. But the home I grew up in doesn't exist anymore. I can't go back to it.

My oldest niece keeps asking when I'm coming home. I can't tell her home isn't real. So I try to explain to her that moving back isn't logical. I tell her I can't get a job there. But the real reason is because being there hurts too much. I can't be so close to the place where my childhood played out knowing that I can never get back to it. The land is still basically the same. The maple tree in the front yard is still the same. The creek that runs alongside is still the same. But nothing else is. The house I grew up in is still standing, but it is not our house anymore. My mother couldn't pay for it after my father passed away. So my brother and his wife and my nieces moved in. My mother signed over all legal rights to the home. She lives next door now in my grandmother's old house that is falling down around her. She is all alone and looks out the window at the life she used to have. My old bedroom belongs to my youngest niece. It is not mine anymore. It will never be mine again. All of the memories I have of that place circle around with nothing concrete to take hold of. My family has fallen apart. My Dad is gone. My mother and aunts do not speak. We are all shadows of our former selves. My nieces don't know this because everyone smiles in front of them. Everyone pretends things are okay.

It's probably no surprise that my eating disorder was at its absolute worst when my family life began to dissolve. When we lost our house, I wasn't eating anything. I didn't care if I died. I didn't feel like I had anything to live for. Moving to Las Vegas was me running away. It was less painful to escape than it was to face the situation. But truthfully, by the time I moved, I had no choice. My brother and his family had already moved in. I had no where else to go.

I feel so attached to the land where I grew up, even still--acres and acres of beautiful trees and mountains and creeks and forest. My father is buried there in the midst of it, about a mile from our old house. When I was at my sickest, I wanted so badly to die. I wanted so badly just to lie down beside his grave, to stretch out in the meadow, and to go to sleep.

Before I moved to Las Vegas I saw my nieces everyday. They feel like sisters. They almost feel like daughters. I have missed so much. And I love them more than anything. I hope they don't resent me for moving away. And I hope they never know how hard this has been on me. Sometimes when we talk on the telephone I don't know what to say to them because it's scary to consider that maybe I don't know them anymore, at least not the way I used to.

I can't even think of home without feeling the weight of absence. As painful as it is, the situation is better than it used to be. I don't want to die anymore. It will probably always hurt, but me being healthy and strong is the only way I can ever be happy. Healing myself is part of finding forgiveness and acceptance. Healing myself is part of forgetting. It's part of moving forward. I have to try and make my future as good as my past used to be.

I hope my girls understand.

I love them.

But I can't go home.

It's theirs now, not mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear -- Over the Rhine

I think I love too much. I have an overwhelming love for my family. I love every animal that has ever existed. I love children. I love nature. I love moonlight. I love stars. I love maple trees, caterpillars, salamanders. I love the feel of my bare feet in the grass. I love August. I love rocking chairs. I love good books, the smell of libraries. I love old churches. I love Jesus. I love the ocean. I love foreign languages. I love hummingbirds, cardinals, herons. I love San Diego. I love the smell of honeysuckle. I love magnolia trees, fat white flowers. I love the lake, the crab-apples, the Kentucky meadows. I love the sound of a violin, the taste of a fresh peach. I love being in love.

I have spent my entire life loving everything and everyone but myself.

My heart is big. There is room to love me too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Diet soda is ruining my life.

I should go ahead and admit my undying love for diet soda. It is bound to come up sooner or later, and anyone who knows me knows how serious my addiction is. It stemmed partly from my experiences as a waitress in restaurants that give employees free drinks. But really, it spun out of control during the mania of my eating disorder. Like many others in the same position, I was attracted to diet soda because it has zero calories. I could drink it and not worry about getting fatter. Before long, it became my food. I wouldn't eat anything all day, but I'd drink 10 diet sodas to compensate. I have thankfully cut back, but I will admit that there is nothing, food or drink, that I crave more.

I've always considered myself a reasonably intelligent person. I am certainly intelligent enough to know the damage soda (diet or otherwise) has on our bodies. I eat healthily. I shop organic. I don't like packaged or processed foods. I don't like additives and extras. Yet I will still drink diet soda like it's my life source. I can't shake the stuff. Nothing beats an icy cold can with condensation forming on it. And then the first sip. I'm thinking of opening one right now.

I don't know how many I drink a day because I don't count anymore. My boyfriend is a total enabler. He knows that I need to have them in the refrigerator at all times. If we're taking a road trip, he puts some on ice for me. It all sounds so ridiculous and trivial. If I can kick anorexia, you'd think I could surely kick my addiction to diet soda. Right? Wrong.

I love this stuff.

Have you ever heard the warning that someone once dropped a nail into a glass of soda and after a set amount of time, the nail had dissolved completely? What is this stuff doing to my insides? To my teeth? As if bulimia didn't wreck them badly enough. And don't get me started on aspartame. Not to mention, do you know how much sodium is in soda? It's disgusting. And it's delicious.

I have had this problem with diet soda for years. I can giggle about it. (My facebook profile picture used to be me hugging a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi, my drug of choice). I can pretend it is cute. But what are the long term effects of this stuff on my body? The reality is nothing will ever be done about it if I don't try harder.

I don't want to commit myself to this, but I'm going to make a real effort to cut back considerably. This isn't like when my mother says she's giving up smoking. Or when my boyfriend says he's cutting out Oreos. They never follow through. I never follow through either, but this time I'm going to. I have to.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Pushing it

Recovering from an eating disorder is tricky because there is always the chance of relapse. I've heard it said hundreds of times that unlike an alcoholic or a drug addict who must avoid the substances they were dependent upon to become clean, to an anorexic (or anyone else with an eating disorder) food is an integral and necessary part of not only the recovery process, but to sustain life. As I first began to recover from my anorexia and bulimia, things seemed much harder than they seem now. I was constantly relapsing. I would be fine for days, or weeks, or months, and then I would have a bad day. I'd get stressed. I'd go back to starving myself, or I'd throw up, just because it was easier and it was what I knew. But I would be so frustrated with myself for failing that I gave up (momentarily) trying to recover at all. I realize now, recovery is a very slow process. Relapse is normal. It doesn't mean you're bad at recovering, that you can't or won't recover. You will get better. You have to get better. Being healthy is worth it. You are worth it. We are all worth it.

But I still have questions about recovery. I've been at this long enough to know my weaknesses. I know what triggers me. And I'm learning how to make conscious choices that not only aid in my recovery, but help to prevent any possible relapsing. I still have bad days. Sometimes I have very bad days. But I never think anymore that getting better isn't worth it. I know that relapsing to my old life is not a solution or even a possibility. I don't want to be the person that my eating disorder made me, all alone, sick and scared of everything. That's why it bothers me when I do things like go to the gym. I believe in living a very healthy lifestyle. Yes I try to eat three meals a day. I'm vegan. I avoid fattening or unhealthy foods, not because I'm scared of getting fat, but because I respect my body and want to take care of it. That's why I try to exercise regularly. But when I do, sometimes that old perfectionist in me threatens to take over. Tonight on the treadmill at the gym I kept pushing myself. Why? Because I noticed the number of calories burned was creeping higher and higher. I felt my eating disorder whispering for me to keep running, even though I was exhausted and I had worked out long enough. It kept whispering for me to push it more, to run faster, to bump up the incline level. "What, you're too fat now? You're getting too old for this? Give up. Quitter. You can't run anymore." So I gave in. And I kept running. And my eating disorder won.

I am an advocate of exercise and physical activity. It's good for our bodies. Bodies need exercise. But how am I supposed to exercise without my eating disorder seeing it as an opportunity to gain the upper hand? Should I feel guilty for being happy that I burned a lot of calories, or should I feel guilty for burning them in the first place? I believe that, like food, exercise should be done in moderation. It should be done with the acknowledgment that I am treading onto enemy territory. I have to be armed, even if nothing bad happens. I have to be prepared. I have to be ready to show my eating disorder that it doesn't control me anymore. My thoughts are my own. My body is my own. Don't push it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

“FEAR is an acronym in the English language for 'False Evidence Appearing Real'” - Neale Donald Walsch

So much progress this week. So many positive thoughts. And then I drink a glass of lemonade and my confidence in recovery starts crumbling. Yes, lemonade. Who knew?

I know that "safe foods" and "unsafe foods" vary person to person. For me specifically, all throughout my eating disorder, I have refused to drink calories. Eating them was bad enough, I certainly wasn't going to drink them too. That meant that if it wasn't water or diet soda, I wasn't drinking it. Even now that I am much much healthier and fairly far along into the recovery process, I still have that same old fear of drinking calories. I also made the mistake, after I drank the lemonade, to read the package information (it was from a bottle). I drank 250 lemonade calories.

I freaked out a little bit.

But I didn't throw up. I didn't stop eating. I didn't call myself fat or do a bunch of stomach crunches or anything irrational. I had a wonderful dinner. I am only upset, not because I drank those extra calories, but because I'm bothered by drinking those extra calories. Shouldn't I be past that by now? Even if I didn't have a physical response to the fear of calories, (which is progress) it proves that the fear of calories itself is still present inside of me when I thought that it wasn't. Why am I still worrying about those things? It's lemonade, right? Lemons, sugar, water. It isn't poison. It isn't going to kill me.

I know that, don't I?

I am going to stay positive.

At least I drank it. A year ago, I would have drank it and thrown up immediately. 2 years ago I wouldn't have drank it at all. And I wouldn't have had dinner either.

I have come a long way.

I have to remember that.

And there is no shame in admitting that maybe I still have a long way left to go.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Golden as drops of grain

I woke up this morning at 9 AM with terrible cramps. I went back to sleep at 1 PM and slept until 6 PM. Needless to say, I didn't accomplish very much after that aside from watching Sex and the City on my couch.

The entire concept of menstruation is puzzling to me. While anorexic, of course, I stopped getting periods. I didn't have even one for almost two years and I used to love it. Who wouldn't like not worrying about cramps or bloating or pre-menstrual bitchiness? But really the absence of my period caused more harm than good. I didn't consider it then, but it was sort of like my body's final submission to the hell I put her through. She wanted only to become a woman, and I could not let her. So she stopped trying.

Now that I am eating regularly again and am trying to make peace with my body, she is resentful for all of the ways I've made her suffer. The periods I have post-anorexia are a million times more painful than the ones I had pre-anorexia. Before I didn't see what the big deal was. I barely cramped at all. Now I become completely incapacitated.

Even if I spent the rest of my life apologizing to my body for starving her for so long, the debt could not be repaid.

I think back to one of my favorite poems by Sharon Olds. Though it is about a Russian girl starving to death during the famine of 1921, a girl who, unlike me, would have eaten any food given to her, I can't help but see her body as my own. I want to feed her. I want to say I'm sorry.

[...] Hunger and puberty are
taking her together. She leans on a sack,
layers of clothes fluttering in the heat,
the new radius of her arm curved.
She cannot be not beautiful, but she is
starving. Each day she grows thinner, and her bones
grow longer, porous. The caption says
she is going to starve to death that winter
with millions of others. Deep in her body
the ovaries let out her first eggs,
golden as drops of grain.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"But I belong to those who do not die for the sake of beauty."

Today was a better day than I've had all week. Why? I managed to stay busy.

I was reading a book earlier in the week that gave a synopsis of Agnes Smedley's Daughter of Earth. At one point Smedley says, "There are times when...[t]o die would have been beautiful. But I belong to those who do not die for the sake of beauty."

Though this book has absolutely nothing to do with anorexia, it couldn't sum up my feelings more. At one time in my life I wanted to die. I thought I was going to die. I'm still not sure how I managed not to die. I thought then that if I starved to death it would have been somehow tragically beautiful. I thought I was a living metaphor. Food was the one thing that I needed to save me but it was the one thing that was killing me. I used to glorify my disease and I was just as guilty as everyone else who perpetuates it. But I see now that there is no glory in death by self-starvation. It is certainly tragic, but it is not tragically beautiful. I will someday die from something. But I will not die for beauty.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Our secret is that we still have an epic longing to be more than what we are." - Seymour Krim

When Seymour Krim wrote these words he was speaking of aging, of time expired, of the fantasy life that everyone wants but rarely attains. He was speaking to the American habit of idealized self-perfection, of jumping "from new project to new project", while all along, "our true projects have finally been ourselves."

I remember when sculpting myself was all that mattered. Losing weight was the one and only thing I cared about. I wasn't so concerned with the inside of my body. I treated it horribly—poured into it too much diet soda, dissolved into it too many pills. And I kept out of it everything it needed. Sometimes I didn't even let myself have water.

The outside of my body was what mattered. It had to be a certain size, a certain shape, a certain number, a certain weight. My hair had to be perfect (hard to pull off when it all started falling out.) My makeup had to be perfect (hard to pull off when my skin looked as artificial as the makeup itself). No matter how thin I was, I tried desperately to appear even thinner. I wanted people to think I weighed at least 5 pounds less than what I actually weighed. And I did everything I could think of to keep losing more and more weight in order to become the size (the ever shrinking, never attainable size) that I thought I should be. I had, like Krim suggests, "fallen so much in love with the ongoing excitement of becoming." When I first got sick, I didn't want anyone to look at me or to notice me. By the time my anorexia ballooned out of control and took over my life completely, I wanted everyone to stop and stare. I wanted them to see how sick I was, to call attention to my sickness and to own up to the part they all played in it.

I have come a long way since those days. I never thought it would happen, but I am now embarrassed by the old me that I thought was holy. I loved her. I thought I loved her. And sometimes, thinking back to those days, I have a tendency to only remember the good things. I tend to forget myself slung over the toilet vomiting my guts out. I tend to forget nights I stayed awake, scared to fall asleep because my chest hurt so badly, the nights I wanted to sleep but couldn't because I was so hungry. I haven't forgotten what hungry feels like, but I try not to think of it.

I feel like I have survived something major and lived to tell about it. I look back on my illness as if it happened in another life. Though in reality it wasn't all that long ago, it feels separate from my current existence and out of reach. I can't tap into that same mindset the way that I used to. Thinking back to anorexia is like trying to describe to someone a very vivid dream you've had. It seems very real the moment you wake up, but the longer you find yourself awake, the more distant the dream becomes. And then you remember you've had a dream but you can't recall what it was about. You just know that something terribly important happened, but it is over now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I have lived in Virginia for two months but I have yet to find a job. It is easy to blame it on the economy, but in reality, I haven't been looking. Of the two months I've lived here, I spent two weeks in Los Angeles, and over a week in Kentucky. I like to use this as an excuse as to why I'm not job hunting. I call it "getting settled."

But the truth is I was "settled" a long time ago. So basically I have all day long to do whatever it is that I want. It was fun at first, but now it's becoming monotonous and depressing. Of course, this triggers my eating disorder. Why eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner when there is no one around to make sure it is happening? Though I am eating anyway, the temptation not to is louder than it has been in some time simply because I know that for the first time in a long time, I could pull it off. But I don't. I try to keep busy and to occupy my mind with other things. I spend my days writing, reading, editing my work, working out. But I realized today that for the last two or three weeks, apart from taking out the trash, checking the mail, and going to the gym (which is almost literally across the street from my apartment) I barely leave the apartment at all. And when I do leave it, I can't wait to get back to it. Is it because I don't know anyone or anything in this city? If so, I'm never going to meet anyone or discover anything sitting at home.

My eating disorder tells me I don't need to go anywhere. It has me where it wants me: sitting here all alone vulnerable and unsure. I can't listen. I have to put in more job applications. I have to leave the apartment for more than an hour at a time, even if it is to do nothing but sit in the grass and read. Too much time alone means too much of an opportunity for the old, familiar wounds to open up again. I've come too far for that.

Tomorrow I'm getting a haircut.

I'm going to the coffee shop to work on some writing and editing. Even though I hate working there because it's so noisy, I have to get out of this place.

And I'm resuming the job hunt.

The question is just what exactly I'm qualified to do. No one in this town wants to hire a writer. Anyone who does wants me to work for free. And everyone else doesn't seem to care that I have a Bachelor's Degree or that I'll have a Master's in December. I am a glorified waitress, per my resume. That seems to be the only position I can land.

There has to be something else.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The things I do not hear

I am happy tonight because when I close my eyes I hear the sound of crickets.

I hear the drum of the air conditioner, the spark and hiss of the streetlight.

I hear my cat rustling the window blinds, the sound of car tires on wet pavement.

More important are the things I do not hear. Better yet, the things I used to hear, but no longer hear.

I no longer hear the sound of my stomach growling.

I no longer hear the voice inside my head that once insulted me and chastised me for eating.

I no longer hear the calories rolling and ticking away inside my brain like a taxi's fare meter.

I no longer hear myself praying to be thinner, praying aloud as if nothing else mattered but the sensation of my body shrinking.

And I no longer hear myself apologizing for having eaten, for being a woman, for having a body with curves and flesh that I've tried so desperately to starve to bone.

I don't hear any of that.

I hear peace.

I hear silence.


Monday, July 19, 2010

"The most necessary apology is the apology for what we have done to ourselves"

A few days ago, I wrote a blog entry about an inspiring book of essays I was reading called Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss. In the last essay, "All Apologies", which is essentially an essay that focuses on racism and the crimes committed by white people against other races, the author says, "The most necessary apology is the apology for what we have done to ourselves." By this statement, I think that Biss is transcending issues of race. The "we" and the "ourselves" are universally human and can be applied to essentially any area of human weakness. When I read these words, I thought only of my body.

Have I ever apologized for the horrible things that I have done to it?

Maybe it is because I know what it feels like to be hungry that I have such a compassionate heart for other living creatures that are starving. In my case, it is easy to say that yes, I starved myself. Anorexia is self-starvation, though I have issues trusting that term in regards to the disease. To the anorexic, eating is not the same basic human right it is for other people. Eating becomes nearly, or sometimes completely impossible. My body wanted nothing more than to eat but my mind would not let it. That's why when I see a neglected child on television in a war torn country with its ribs protruding, I want nothing more than to feed it. When I see a stray animal on my back porch sneaking to my cat's food bowl to try and steal some food, I let it have all it can get. And then I give it more. Because I know what hungry feels like. And there's nothing else I've ever experienced that has made me feel so helpless.

But I also feel an enormous sense of guilt when I see someone or something else that is hungry. Maybe it makes me sound like a traitor to even think of equating the hunger of an anorexic to the hunger of a starving child. I had all of the food I could imagine within my reach but I couldn't eat any of it. A starving child would give anything to eat even one bite of it, and care nothing of calories or fat grams or protein. I know that anorexia is a devastating disorder, but damn it, it's also a very selfish one. Isn't it? When I was anorexic I would have fought anyone who called me selfish for denying myself of food that so many people or animals would kill to eat. When I became bulimic, that was even worse. How dare I throw up food like no one else in the world is hungry?

I feel like I have a lot to apologize for.

First, like the essay suggests, I know that I have to apologize to myself. I have to make peace with myself before I can move forward with my recovery.

The essay also says, "Some apologies are unspeakable. Like the one we owe our parents."

So far, I have been unable to apologize to my mother. My eating disorder stressed her out in a time of her life that was already too stressful to begin with. I need to tell her that I'm sorry for that. And I am. It doesn't have to be unspeakable.

And I have to apologize to my body. It was hungry like that starving child, like a starving animal. And I denied it. I felt and saw it decaying and struggling to survive. But I ignored it. Why? Because I wanted to be thin? It sounds so silly now.

And most importantly, I feel like I have to apologize to all of the forms of life that were/are hungry and willing to eat though the food was/is unavailable to them. To any creature that has starved to death, is starving now, or ever will. I wish I could feed them all. No one deserves to be hungry.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Looking back

I made the mistake of reading my old diary tonight. There was a lot of horrible things in there. I had written regularly in that diary for years. There were entries about my father when he was healthy, my father when he was sick with cancer, entries about my father's funeral, about my first real love and how it ended. And there were entries about my eating disorder, but only 4 or 5 of them. I guess I stopped writing then. Actually, I stopped everything.

Reading over the forgotten words, they didn't seem like my own. Sure, they were factual and accurate. Places and names made sense, but the person writing did not. I used words I would never use now. Maybe part of it comes simply from growing up. The last few entries about food and dieting and weight loss were written when my anorexia was in its early stages. I didn't realize at that point what I was up against. I was still under her spell, naive and eager to please. I thought at first that reading about it all would make me tempted to backslide. I thought I would believe again all of those old lies. But I didn't. They seemed almost silly.

My head is clear now.

Calories aren't the worst things in the world.

I don't care that I'm not losing weight.

I lost too much of myself in the process.

I had to be rebuilt.

And I like this me much better.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I realized something very important after my last post that I had never considered before. Since my eating disorder first began, the time line of my life was broken down into two very distinct parts: life before the eating disorder and life with the eating disorder. I realize now it is broken into three parts: life before, life with, and now, most importantly, life after the eating disorder.

This may seem like stating the obvious, but I cannot begin to express how happy it makes me to put the eating disorder behind me. That's where it is now. It's in the past. I'm not going back there again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding home

I have spent the last 5 days at my mother's house in the town where I grew up. Though I was born and raised here, and every memory of my childhood stems from here, I cannot call this place home. Without veering off on a very complicated and painful explanation, I will just say briefly that the house I grew up in is now occupied by my brother along with his wife and their two children. After my father died, everything else in my life began to fall apart. My family, my home, my health. My mother now lives across the street in my grandmother's old house that is also falling apart. All in all, this land is the closest thing to home that I have, but it isn't home anymore.

Though it hurts me very much to visit this place, seeing my family feels good. We are not as close as we were before my father died, but we are closer than we have been in a long time. Everything is not perfect, but I am content in knowing the past is behind us. Hopefully the future will bring good things.

Since I am leaving tomorrow, I had a long talk with my mother tonight about my eating disorder, a topic that, until now, she was never able to address or acknowledge. When I was sick she was fully aware of it. She just didn't know how to help. She didn't force me into treatment. But she let me know that I had "issues." It took her a very long time to admit I was actually anorexic. It was like if she didn't say it out loud then it wouldn't be true. Back then I thought she was embarrassed to have an anorexic daughter, but I see now that she was just scared. Tonight when I was trying on old clothes that I had up in the attic for the last 2 years (since I've lived on the west coast) she told me how scared she had been all that time I was sick. She told me she expected to come home and find me dead at any moment. Honestly, towards the end, I expected the same thing. She told me how hard she had prayed for years and is still praying for me to have a full and complete recovery. She told me she thinks God heard her prayers. I think so too.

It means a lot to hear this from my mother, not because I wanted to hear her finally admit how sick I was, but because it was nice hearing how glad she is that I'm not that sick anymore. Whether she expresses it vocally or not, my mother has always understood me better than almost anyone.

I am very thankful for that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"A reminder that there is always some promise in destruction:"

Identity is a very loaded word for those recovering from eating disorders. When I was at my sickest, I defined myself only by my disease. I was anorexic. Period. I spent the majority of my time improving up on it and sharpening my skills as if I was mastering a musical instrument or conquering a second language. I poured all of my time and energy into being the sickest, skinniest, best anorexic that I could be, and anorexia accepted everything I handed over without offering anything positive in return.

Now in recovery, like many others in the same position, I am left wondering how to define myself. I am just a girl? 26 years old and I still can't call myself a woman. Honestly, I don't feel like one. I feel as insecure and dependent upon others as I did when I was a child. I certainly don't feel the same sense of ownership of the label "anorexic" as I used to. If I walked down the street no one would whisper, "She's anorexic." I'm not that thin anymore. I'm not that sick anymore. All in all, I'm guess maybe I'm just normal. I used to say there is nothing that terrified me more. I am thankful for my health and thankful for my ability to overcome. But is it bad that I also feel naked without the label anorexic to hide behind?

I am reading a very wonderful collection of essays by Eula Biss called Notes from No Man's Land. It has nothing to do with eating disorders specifically, but it has everything to do with life. In her essay, "Babylon" she says that the fall of the city of Babylon is[...] "A reminder that there is always some promise in destruction." I think there is much truth in that statement. Though I certainly would have never chosen to develop an eating disorder, I can see how it has made me a better person. There was promise in my destruction. There was some beauty in it too. But the good thing is that I have been rebuilt.

Stronger. Better. More beautiful.

I may not be perfect, and I may never be, but that's okay.

I am not in ruins.

I am brand new.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A lesson in self-worth

I am sorry for the negativity in yesterday's post. However, when I decided to write this blog to document my eating disorder recovery, I also decided to describe it honestly and completely. The honest and complete truth is that no one recovers over night. I have been recovering for a long time and I still have dark days. The good news is they aren't as common as they used to be. And today was a very good day.

I spent the day at the pool with my nieces. In a bathing suit. No one called me fat, which I guess is the worst thing that could have happened. I had a great time with the girls and it made me wish I could see them more often. They are very precious to me and I hope they always know that. I wish that I could protect them from ever feeling miserable about their bodies. I wish I could tell them not to listen to any voice (their own or otherwise) that suggests they aren't good enough, that they aren't skinny enough or beautiful enough. They are the most beautiful girls in the entire world, and I tell them so. I know they hear it, I just wish I could make them believe it and remember it. My mother always told me the same things--that I was good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough to do anything that I wanted to do. But I never listened. I had to fall apart. I had to learn it on my own. I pray my nieces never have to.

It has taken a long time but I'm starting to believe all of those terribly cliche things that adults tell children.

It's what is on the inside that counts.

How silly is that?

Not a all...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Old Friend *Possibly Triggering*

For the last several months I have been able (without even realizing it) to mute that voice in my head responsible for counting every single calorie I consume throughout the day. For years I calculated everything. Of course I still know the calorie content of basically every food on the planet, but somehow, without even realizing it, I have been able to silence the voice that obsesses over it. Until today.

Maybe it is something about being at home again. I lived here (not in this exact house, but in this exact neighborhood) when my eating disorder first began, when it picked up speed, when it ballooned out of control and I could no longer determine which part of my brain was fact and which was fiction, which voice was good and which voice was bad. I haven't lived here for the last two years, but each time I'm back, these same old feelings and impulses arise.

It hurts me to consider this, but I think my eating disorder issues must be directly linked to this place, which more than likely means linked to my family. When I am here I only think of one thing-- the absence of my father. My ED surfaced about a year after he passed away. There's just too much sadness here. There's so much overwhelming grief and regret and wishing for what was. It's too much. It makes me anxious. Being anxious triggers bad behavior.

For the first time in a long time I just drank a glass of soy milk and estimated without even trying to that it had about 115 calories. I didn't have to think about it. It's like the "check engine" light coming on in your car when something is wrong. It just pops up. It's like food isn't food if I'm not attaching calories to it. Tonight food feels like food. Once I start worrying over calories then eating becomes a task. Once eating becomes a task, it is too tempting to allow eating to become frightening, stressful, and before long, impossible.

I'm not sure what to do with all this.

I liked it better when food was not food.

I have to get a grip on this.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am completely wiped out after driving 8.5 hours today to my mom's house. I drove all alone without my boyfriend which means I didn't eat all day. If I am left to my own devices I stop eating. Great.

The good news is my mother won't stand for it. She took me to the grocery store when I made it into town. She is not as strict about me eating as my boyfriend is (okay-- she isn't strict at all to be honest) but she at least says a hundred times a day that I need to eat more. My nieces were here for dinner tonight too and they are too old now to play the "Why aren't you eating?" game. The last thing I want to do is have my behavior rub off onto them. I couldn't let that happen.

So, the solution?

Vegan tacos for dinner = delicious.

I use black beans instead of any sort of meat. And I made my own salsa. It might not make up for skipping breakfast and lunch but I'm not going to bed hungry.

It's going to take a lot of strength to get through this week, but I can do it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Me vs. The Swimsuit

It was a good day until I tried on old swimsuits.

Do I have to say anything more?


I'm spending the next few days in Kentucky with my mother and my nieces. It's an 8-9 hour drive (depending on how many times I stop). The first thing my niece told me on the phone a few hours ago? "Don't forget your swimsuit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

There's no getting out of it now. There's no use praying for an entire week of rain. It's me vs the swimsuit all week long.

The ones I used to wear are too small. Or I am too large? Even the ones that fit still look ridiculous. Who ever invented swimsuits in the first place?


I told myself I won't let this ruin my good time. I don't get to see my nieces often, only a few times a year. I'm not going to waste it by being miserable and insecure.

We're going to swim. We're going to jump on their trampoline. We're going to go to the park. We're going to talk about Team Jacob and Team Edward and whatever else 6 year-olds and 9 year-olds like to talk about.

And we're going to love it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who makes the rules?

It rained today.

I wanted to do nothing but sleep.

I took my car in for an oil change.

$220 later, they replaced the front tire, too.

I don't have a job.

I'm not doing anything to better that situation.

I had roasted potatoes for dinner.

I'd like a glass of wine.

Seeing Las Vegas on television makes me homesick.

I miss the bright lights.

I feel like I am gaining weight.

Suddenly recovery seems more difficult.

I want to be healthy on my own terms.

I want to eat only if eating won't make me fat.

I don't like to follow the rules.

But I have to.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seeking Peace

I accomplished a lot today but it was mostly boring. I spent 4 hours doing homework. I don't like to think of it as homework since everything I do for school is reading books I love to read and writing about the things I want to write about. Nonetheless, it took up most of my day.

By dinner time I was eager to get out of the house so the boyfriend and I headed to a local bar/restaurant. Of course, like every other restaurant menu I come across, there was little available that I could eat. Everything I order has to be modified. (As a former server, I know how annoying this can be!) I settled on the Pear & Blue Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts, sans the blue cheese. I discovered there is a strictly vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the city I live in that I've never had the chance to visit before because it's in an odd location that isn't really near me or any of the places I frequent. I think it's time to give it a try.

I talked to my mother on the telephone on the way home to find out she is having a lot of issues going on in her personal life that make me sad. I wish I could help her. I wish I had money to give to her, a magic wand to swoop over her head to erase all of her problems. She has taken good care of me my entire life. It's hard being powerless to help her now.

For my entire life I've had a tendency to be sad when others around me are sad. It's my nature to withdraw from life and turn into myself when things go wrong. Once, during an argument, my boyfriend told me I enjoy being miserable. He was right about that, but I'm learning that being miserable doesn't help anything. It may sound like sunshine and rainbows and butterflies, but I'm learning that a positive attitude really does make a difference in life. I have never been a bubbly person. I've always sulked and complained and reveled in my misery. But what is the point? My days on earth are limited. When I'm 30, 40, 50, 60 years old, do I really want to look back wishing I had been happier and healthier when I was young instead of wasting my youth miserable, hungry, and afraid? I don't.

I read this quote tonight that made me think: "First keep peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others." Thomas Kempis

I haven't found peace for myself yet, but I'm looking. I'm getting closer every day.

I just recently moved to the east coast, but before that, I lived in Las Vegas for the past two and a half years. When I first moved into that apartment in Vegas, I was scared and broken and miserable. I wasn't eating regularly. When I did eat, I retreated to the bathroom and made myself throw up until it was gone. Somehow, by the time I moved out of that apartment (in May of this year), I was eating every single day and hadn't thrown up in a very very long time. The name of the street that I lived on is called Peace Way.

Anyone believe in signs?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Love yourselves!

It really bums me out when girls/women don't love themselves. When they can't love themselves. I never knew how to love myself either.

I was just on twitter and saw the profile of an anorexic girl who was on day 10 of her latest fast. She had her shirt pulled up to show her ribs in a desperate attempt to prove her worth to the world. Maybe you know her. Maybe you are her. I was her for the first 25 years of my life. But I'm not that girl anymore.

I will no longer let the shape of my body dictate my self worth.

I will not let the weight of my body hold me back from enjoying this one shot I have at life.

I will not let the mirror decide whether or not I am good enough.

I will not feel guilty for feeding my body.

I will not hate my body. It has never hated me, despite the horrible things I have done to it.

I will not listen to that little voice inside of me who screams and screams not to eat.

I will pray that girl ends her fast tonight and ends it for good, even though she thinks that's the worst thing that could happen to her. It isn't.

Love yourselves

It's not too late...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who says being vegan is hard?

It's actually not as complicated as most people think. And the good thing about going vegan is that it's healthy for your body, the environment, and the planet. For dinner tonight I made risotto with corn, tomatoes, and fresh basil with an avocado, grapefruit, and pistachio salad and fresh mint lemonade. Delicious and healthy. My boyfriend said it was restaurant quality which means a lot coming from a chef. But now there's all these dishes to do...

I have found that cooking has been an unexpected but very therapeutic way for me to recover from my eating disorder. I've had to learn how to eat healthily, which is something I never did, even before I was anorexic. I have been a vegetarian since I was a child because I couldn't stand the thought of eating an animal. I used to look at chicken nuggets and see nothing but the baby chickens my grandfather raised in his barn, the little yellow puffs of feather and fuzz that I wanted so badly to touch, not to eat. So I didn't. But for me, a vegetarian diet was not a diet of vegetables. I found myself eating lots of french fries, pizza, pasta-- all of those things that are indeed vegetarian, and often wonderfully delicious, but nutritionally invalid.

These days I have traded in my lifetime of vegetarianism for strict veganism. This means no meat, no fish, no eggs, no dairy, no gelatin, no honey. Apart from food, it also means no fur, no leather, no animal-tested cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and no products of any sort that use animal by-products of any capacity. It's not as difficult as it sounds. I've been doing it for years and have had to change my lifestyle very little in order to accommodate it.

I am certain my jump to veganism was indirectly related to my anorexia, which, ironic as it sounds, has made me a healthier person. How? By being so conscious of everything I put into my body, I then became conscious of where my food came from and how it was made. I couldn't eat in restaurants because everything was so fat and calorie packed that it terrified me. So did packaged and processed foods. My solution? I didn't eat much, but what I did eat, I made myself.

It is weird to consider cooking as a means of dealing with anorexia, since as an anorexic, I barely ate at all. Instead, I would watch the food network for hours. I could taste the food in my mind just from watching it being prepared without ever having to taste it. I picked up lots of useful information along the way. Somehow I managed to learn how to properly feed myself in the midst of starving myself. When I actually began the recovery process and slowly started to reintegrate food back into my life, I found that cooking was enjoyable, and eating could be enjoyable too. This is what else I have learned:

Food is not the enemy.

Food gives our bodies the fuel they need to survive and to thrive in the world.

We are all so full of potential, each one of us capable of so many wonderful and unique things.

We can't do them while running on empty.

For a list of companies that do and do not test on animals, please visit:

For more information on becoming vegan, please visit:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A bit of hope

So tonight was spaghetti night. I ate too much by anyone’s standards and now I’m miserable. I feel like maybe I have gained weight but I haven’t been on the scale. I used to weigh myself literally every time I walked into the bathroom. Now I do it once a week at the most. I am at a “normal” body weight for my height but it feels fat to me compared to how thin I used to be. How sick I used to be. When I go to the doctor I still do blind weigh-ins. I turn around and mount the scale backwards so I don’t have to see the numbers. As soon as I see them, I get panicky and feel like throwing up, no matter how low they are. The problem is, recovery or no recovery, they're never low enough. The nurse doesn't tell me what the scale says. I don’t care what I weigh now. It’s better not to know.

I would feel better about my body if I went to the gym more often. I used to work out every single day, sometimes more than once, but lately I haven’t had the energy to do anything. I’m in a rut. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

Sometimes I forget how crucial my boyfriend is to this whole recovery process. We live together, and if we didn’t, I’m sure I’d eat less. He’s part of the reason I began eating again in the first place. We were friends before we were in a relationship and I felt like I could really open up to him about my anorexia. Unlike everyone else in my life, he was willing to listen, and though he didn’t really understand, he made an effort. He helped me to see how important eating is, as silly as that sounds. I had to relearn that food is good for you. It nourishes your body. It has vitamins and minerals. Anorexics don’t care about any of those things.

My initial solution to eating again was to start throwing up. Before long I was throwing up about 8 times a day. It became unmanageable. When I was an undergrad and living in the dorms I could get away with starving and binging/purging much easier. No one kept tabs on me. But when my boyfriend and I moved in together (it was two years in May) I had to stop. Suddenly there was someone watching me all the time, asking me what I had eaten, if I had eaten. He was there listening outside the bathroom door, accusing me of throwing up whether I had or I hadn't. I wasn’t used to it. I hated it. But I think maybe it saved me.

I wanted to throw up tonight because I had dessert (some coconut milk "ice cream") but I couldn’t for three reasons. 1). My boyfriend made dinner. 2). I’m scared of letting him down. 3). Most importantly, I'm scared of letting myself down. I can do this. I have to.

The difference between today and two years ago is that today I didn’t throw up. I don’t know how many calories I took in and I don’t care anymore. In the past, I had to count every single calorie. I had to be fully conscious of it. I kept a running tally in my head all day long. I knew how many calories I would be allowed to have that day before the day even began. If I exceeded the limit, I had two options: workout until I burned it all off, or throw up until there was nothing left inside of me. Regardless of which path of punishment I chose, I starved for the next three days straight.

I don’t care how many calories I had today. I haven’t weighed myself today. I haven’t done any sit-ups or crunches. I haven’t cried. I haven’t called myself fat. And guess what?

The world didn’t end.

Someone still loves me.

I’m learning to love me too.

I can do this.

I have to.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Every day is my best day; this is my life. I'm not going to have this moment again.- Bernie Siegel

So someone on my twitter page posted this quote tonight and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Moments are fleeting. We all pretend to know that, but do we really live like that? I've spent so many years feeling ugly or fat or not good enough for what ever reason. And now I wish I could have all of those moments back. I wish I could go back and really live in all of those moments I was holding back and trying to disappear, to blend into the scenery, to go unnoticed and unrecognized, terrified someone would think I was ugly or unimportant. Who cares if my body isn't "perfect" in a swimsuit? Is that worth missing out on the beach? The beautiful ocean, the waves, the sand, the breeze? Am I really going to continue to let my own perception of my body keep me from living this one and only life that I have been given the chance to live? Not anymore.

Not anymore...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence day

We finally made it to my mother's house in Kentucky after the failed attempt yesterday. It is nice to be home, to see family, to feel familiar, safe, at peace. But there is sadness here, too. My father passed away in 2003 from cancer and I can't come home without thinking of him. Everything triggers a memory: the mountains, the trees, the air. Simple things like an old tire store we used to drive by or the coin-operated car wash by the side of the road. It is good being home, but it hurts being home.

Since it is the 4th of July, my family had a barbecue like many other families. This is the first time in years, not just for the 4th but the actual first time in years, that I have been around a kitchen table with my mother and brother and the rest of my family that I have actually eaten and participated. In the past, no matter what the meal consisted of or what the occasion may have been, I was always fasting. I didn't want to eat with them, I couldn't. And so I politely refused every single time until eventually they got the picture and stopped asking. I didn't eat much today (an ear of corn, some green beans, and a little salad) but I sat down at the table and I felt like part of the family again. My eating disorder has always made it terribly difficult to feel comfortable eating in front of others. I always felt like they were looking at me and judging me and thinking I was as fat as I thought that I was. I still felt a little of that today, but I didn't listen. And I finished my plate. I held my niece in my lap and watched the fireworks. And I thought of the way my life was when I was a child just like her, before I had an eating disorder, before I hated my body. Before my Dad died. Before I left home and moved to Las Vegas. Things were so out of place and so chaotic for so many years. And though they may never be completely better, I'm far enough away from the chaos to feel a small piece of peace.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We make plans, God laughs, right?

I am supposed to be in Kentucky right now visiting my mother, typing to you from the warmth of her kitchen table via her ancient laptop. Instead, I am sitting at the computer desk in my apartment listening to the sound of fireworks exploding above trees.

I moved to Virginia last month. Before that, I had spent the last few years in Las Vegas. So leaving behind the brightly lit Sin City for a town where there are more trees than, well, anything, takes some getting used to. The town I grew up in and where I should be visiting tonight is very similar in landscape to this one, though my hometown is much more rural and remote. (Even more trees... even less people). My boyfriend and I wanted to visit my mother and the rest of my family to celebrate the 4th of July. The only problem is our uncharacteristically needy cat, Gatsby. We got in the car today after a bit of a late start, threw our bags in the backseat and the cat up front with me, and began the 8 hour drive east. A few miles out of town we stopped at a fast-food restaurant so my boyfriend could have lunch. He had chicken fingers. I had nothing because 1. I don't eat fast food, 2. I am vegan so even if I wanted to eat fast food, there is nothing on any fast food menu for me, and 3. There is little on a fast food menu that isn't deep fried or so unhealthy it makes the anorexic in me cringe, recovery or no recovery. So I drank a diet soda and pet the cat while my boyfriend attempted to eat and drive. Within minutes the cat, who had been lying near my feet scared but no stranger to traveling in the car, tried to climb up into my lap. And then we smelled it. And then we saw it. And then we panicked. He had gone #2 all over the floor mat. We pulled over in a shopping mall parking lot and the cat proceeded to vomit. And he was drooling and heaving and gagging. Needless to say, less than 30 miles out of town, we turned the car around and took the cat home. We spent the rest of the evening cleaning cat excrement and not visiting relatives. We did manage, at least, to escape to a movie this evening once the car was cleaned and the cat was at home asleep on the couch and feeling like his normal self again. Since the 4th is actually tomorrow, we plan on waking up bright and early to start the trip all over again, only this time we're leaving the cat at home.

Somehow the events of the day did not manage to ruin my appetite entirely so I made a nice salad for dinner. It had romaine lettuce, garbanzo beans, red onion, tomatoes, avocado, and my homemade dressing. At the height of my anorexia I never ate salad dressing. I used to work at a hospital (ironically enough) and each day for lunch I would sit around the table with doctors and nurses and office personnel, all of them aware of my magical shrinking act and total avoidance of all things edible. Skipping lunch was not an option, so I ate a salad of mixed greens and cucumbers. No dressing. Only packets and packets of salt. Even now dressing still makes me uneasy. I like to make my own so I know exactly what is in it, but even then I find myself worrying over the calories and fat in the olive oil. It’s disgusting and terrifying. So I came up with a shortcut. Lately I have been cutting out the olive oil all together and making a dressing of only balsamic vinegar, a shot of dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and the juice and zest of some sort of citrus–I use lemon, lime, or orange (whichever I happen to have). I also bought some “balsamic drizzle” which is basically just balsamic vinegar and grape juice that has been reduced and thickened. It doesn’t have many calories at all. If I add just a splash of that it thickens the dressing and helps to emulsify it. I must say it is quite delicious and virtually fat and calorie free. Is it wrong for me to be scheming like this? Am I supposed to feel guilty? Just because I am in the recovery process, does that mean it is wrong for me to still watch calories and fat? Where do we draw the proverbial line? I don't think eating healthily is a crime. After all, I am eating. That in and of itself is progress. Right?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Welcome to life.after.anorexia

I am a MFA student at a low-residency grad school in Los Angeles. For the next four months I will be writing here daily about my experience dealing with and recovering from anorexia. I am not the skeleton I used to be. I ate three meals today. They were small meals, but I ate without puking or crying or spitting the majority of my food into the wastebasket. I don't have to panic anymore. I don't have to deny myself one of the most basic human rights. I don't have to trick my body into thinking hunger is good, emptiness is good, starvation is sacred. I don't need to constantly know I am thin anymore. I don't have to weigh myself ten times a day anymore. I don't obsess over it anymore. You shouldn't have to either.

Three years ago, I would have never believed anyone who told me I could be "better". I didn't believe in becoming "healthy" and I never wanted to. But I can honestly say, without feeling fraudulent or melodramatic, that I'm glad I began the recovery process. There was a time when I wanted to die, when I ate so little it seems somehow unreal that I managed not to die. It wasn't all that long ago I was abusing laxatives, diet pills, enemas--anything to get the food out. Fat scared me more than death. What does fat mean to you?

Through this project I hope to foster a sense of reclamation of the body. We don’t have to be ashamed or afraid of ourselves despite the rigid beauty restraints put in place by society. I want to show the importance of loving our bodies, not only for ourselves, but for the young girls and boys who are growing up with the poisoned assumptions that a woman’s body is only allowed to be one shape: thin.