by Tara Fannon
...In fact, I don't remember a time when it didn't. It changes in different social environments. It changes based on who I'm with. It even changes based on whether or not I've been to the gym that day. I mostly go between feeling dissatisfied with my physical appearance and not even noticing it. My relationship with food is love-hate. I'm always aware of what I'm eating. Eating healthy and whole is important for obvious reasons but I also don't want to gain weight. I overindulge on caloric foods and then I restrict myself. I regiment my fitness and almost never take a day off. My whole routine holds me captive and I'm tired from it.
In recent years I've taken to repairing my body image and my beliefs about food. It's probably pretty important that I stop thinking about the shape of my body as some sort of affliction and seeing food as the enemy. I appreciate that my body is physically strong, moves freely and easily, and almost never gets sick. I understand the concept of balance when it comes to diet. So why do I still struggle?
As an adolescent I spent half the time living with my mom and the half with my dad. My mother always stocked the fridge and pantry with processed, calorie laden, nutrition-stripped foods. There was almost always Doritos, Hostess Devil Dogs, and sugary drinks in the house and I could help myself. It wasn't because she didn't care. On the contrary, like so many parents, she tried to make up for whatever she thought her parental shortcomings were by spoiling me with junk food. My dad, on the other hand, restricted junk food to special occasions like birthdays and holidays. 'It made you fat if you ate too much of it', he would say. At my dad's, it was important to sit down to a balanced home-cooked meal every night.
When I was twelve I moved to south Florida with my mom and stepdad. All the girls in my school seemed to be tan, thin, and blond. I was a pasty-white brunette with baby-fat and freckles. You can imagine this scenario. Just like before, my mom juggled multiple jobs so I was a latchkey kid. Day after unpleasant day at school I would sooth myself with huge helpings of unhealthy foods. On top of that, every Friday night was pizza night in our house and I almost always used my weekly allowance to 'supersize it' at McDonalds. I was the type of kid that slept until noon on the weekends and ate cold pizza when I emerged from my room. To make matters worse, I was a sedentary teen. Instead of playing sports I worked.
I think of my mother who, to this day, will eat a family-size bag of sour cream and onion potato chips for dinner. I think of my father who is of the old mindset that carbs make you fat and eats so few for fear of gaining weight. I think of my stepfather who used to call me thunder thighs, never-mind that he's easily 60 pounds overweight.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming my family for my damaged thinking but it's clear that they've set things in motion. I just picked up the baton and kept running with it. My body image fluctuates. I've taken to repairing this, and it's work in progress.