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Cannot See Myself

It has been exactly one year since I was in inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa.


I am 5'2"


I am 5'2". I am 18. Last year, two days after my 17th birthday, I went to treatment at a place which is exclusively for women suffering with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive overeating, and EDNOS. I was 89 pounds when I was evaluated by the team, and when I entered treatment I weighed 93 pounds. I was clinically anorexic and dangerously underweight. I had been taught that this was normal, because the majority of images of "perfection" in magazines and on TV are clinically underweight women. 


Models have a disproportionately low average BMI when compared to the general population. It is very difficult to model "straight sizes" unless you are clinically underweight, so it has become the media's norm. I obsessed over my thigh gap and the prominence of my bones. If anything on my body jiggled, I was mortified. If I couldn't see my ribs and hipbones, I felt worthless. Why was my sense of self-worth so connected to my outward appearance? Why was my internalized ideal to have the body of a sick girl? Why did the word 'healthy' connote 'fat'? 


I still have body dysmorphia and I don't think I'll ever see myself correctly. My body image is very skewed and disproportionate to reality. In mirrors, the image warps and changes before my eyes, and I can't tell what I am really seeing. In public, I will see women who are skinnier than I am, and I will envy them, only to find out from others that I actually look thinner than the woman I am envying. I cannot see myself, and I believe that this is a common problem, so in order to remedy that, I think it is helpful to look up other women with your same dimensions to get a sense of perspective. 


I see pictures of women with my same weight, height, and measurements, and I feel much larger than they are, but seeing the images makes me realize that I am not as big as I think. It helps me realize the reality of my body, which is comforting. It is a revelation that I look healthy, fit, beautiful, and womanly. Finally. 

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