Body image, body awareness, body shape. Whatever words I use it comes down to one thing: how comfortable you are with what you see in the mirror.
For me body image is what I struggled with most. When I started receiving treatment I couldn’t see any way that this would improve, or even begin to get any better. I had hated my body image for so many years, it felt ingrained. I wanted recovery but I had accepted that no matter what help I got I’d still hate what I saw in the mirror.
Big baggy jumpers became the everyday wear. This was fine in the winter on cold days, but not so appropriate in the middle of summer!
I would spend hours in front of the mirror ‘checking’. Checking I hadn’t gained weight since the last time I looked, grabbing, pinching, touching my stomach. I hated myself, I hated how I looked and wanted to cover up at all times. I couldn’t get changed in front on my boyfriend and would take my clothes into the bathroom so he couldn’t see me.
Body image can change. I don’t no at what point I finally accepted my body and started to become a little more comfortable in how I look but it did happen. Yesterday was eye-opening for me in showing me just how far I have come on the body image front.
As some will know my parter and I are in the Lake District and we went to a spa day yesterday. I did this because I wanted to do something nice for him but I also knew how many challenges it would bring up for me, from an anorexia perspective:
- 2 course lunch out
- massage, letting someone touch me, feeling exposed
- wearing a swimming costume all day
But I did it. Not only did I do it but I wasn’t as aware of my body as I expected to be. I spent most of the afternoon wearing a swimming costume, getting in and out of the pool, walking to the jacuzzi, sitting in the sauna and steam room. The best part- I didn’t feel the need to cover up. Ok, so I might not have been the most confident person there strutting around the pool! But I didn’t need to cover myself or hide away. It wasn’t until towards the end of the day that I noticed my posture had changed, instead of how I normally sit with my arms wrapped around my body covering my stomach I was able to relax.
It was an amazing feeling, looking backover the day seeing what I had achieved. Not too long ago I wouldn’t have contemplated a spa day but I showed myself I could do it and I’ve shown how much my body image has improved.
I had an amazing day, spending time with my partner and allowing myself some ‘me’ time. There were no longer three people in our relationship, anorexia did not get any attention and was out of my mind most of the day.
It felt great.
This is what recovery looks like, noticing the little improvements along the way, most importantly being proud of them and seeing what a big deal they are.
So, if you hate your body image and can’t see a way through that, just remember I was in the same place. I even told my doctor that they would never be able to help me change how I felt about my body, but look at what I have just achieved. You can too. And you will.