Here it is. Listen–by Leigh

My friend Leigh wrote this blog. The link to it won’t work, so I copy and pasted it.  It’s important. You should read it. EVERYONE.

 

Here It Is: Listen.

by leighkgb02

Okay. I am sick. And tired. I am completely overwhelmed by the world and the on-going war on body images. I am a part of this war. But I seem to be one of a very, VERY small community of people who actually promote being healthy and accepting of who you are. And really, how SICK is that?

Here’s my story (as short as I can possibly tell it):

I am “skinny”. I have been small my whole life. That is the way I am built: short and thin. For awhile it was almost dangerous. It seemed that my body burned off calories and carbs faster than was healthy; the number of times my doctor gave my family and me instructions to give me Pediasure or the like so I could hopefully gain weight was astounding. There were occasional threats of hospitalization if I couldn’t gain the necessary weight. When I was 12 I finally reached 98 pounds. I didn’t gain a single pound until I was 16 and reached 100.

Does that sound like complaining? Are some of you about to jump on me and scream foul? Please, go on and tell me just how LUCKY I was to nearly be forced into the hospital. How girls would KILL (HAVE killed) to have my so-called “problems”. I dare you.

If you just accepted that dare, you aren’t the first. Oh no. You’re at the bottom of a long list of strangers, acquaintances, friends, enemies, family, teachers, and co-workers who decided to ostracize me for my struggle with who I am. Can I let you in on a little secret? You’re all a part of the problem I mentioned in the first paragraph. Please, don’t get offended! Keep reading! I promise this story gets better.

When I was very young, I didn’t know there was a problem with looking the way I did. I gathered that children my own age didn’t really like me because I was weird. I liked to read, I was loud, I talked a lot, and I had a vivid imagination. Okay. I understood that. I still managed to make friends because I was outgoing, friendly, and despite my weirdness, accessible. I would listen to other people’s problems and points of view and not judge them for what they liked and were interested in. That endeared me to quite a few people, despite their distaste for the things I enjoyed doing.

But sooner, rather than later, I started hearing about how “lucky” I was to be so skinny. How many of the girls wished they looked like me. How boys preferred the way I looked to the way they looked (which I thought was insane, considering boys did not give me the time of day except to tease me). When I say this all started happening “sooner” I mean it: I was 5 the first time a girl on the playground said this to me. Five. Years. Old.

Some of you didn’t even bat an eyelash, did you? Because saying things like this to girls, teens, and women like me is commonplace. It’s acceptable. Who cares if it’s a five year old saying it to another five year old? Does it matter? YES. Yes it does.

Because it didn’t stop there. I started hearing more and more often the older I got. From more than just my classmates. In the fifth grade I distinctly remember the day I was told by my teacher: “I remember when I looked the way you did, so small and petite. You’re so lucky. It’s no wonder girls are jealous of you.” In front of the class. I cried at recess that day because one of the boys in my class kept calling me “petite” like it was a dirty swear word. And to me, it was.

Because now I was being treated so much differently those days than I had been when I was 5. I had more “friends” it was true, but I was constantly told how “perfect” I was, only to be told later all of my flaws (none of which they had, or so they said). Later in life, watching some sorority movie or other I saw some of the hazing that the pledges went through and was immediately flashed back to my childhood. That’s what it felt like. Hazing. Like they were stripping me down, writing all my flaws on my body and telling me what I terrible person I was for making them hate themselves.

That’s the one that stuck with me most. All of the people who told me that I was the reason that they hated themselves. That they wanted (or WERE) anorexic, bulimic, or suicidal. And no matter how public an announcement it was that I was at fault for their own views on themselves, I was told I was silly to cry. They only said those things because of how they felt about themselves. Suck. It. Up.

My one question has always been: DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT?! I know that what they’re saying is directly influenced by how they feel about themselves. And it hit hard every time. It felt like a knife, cutting into my heart, because what could I do?

Please, don’t forget, it wasn’t just classmates. I was hearing things like this from my mother now, too. I don’t want ANYONE to misconstrue me: my mother is an amazing women who has had her own fair share of tragedy and pain. I love her more than anything, and I don’t blame her for some of the things she’s said to me. And don’t you dare do it either– because chances are, most of you have said something like it in passing to your children, friends, family, or even random strangers. What makes it different?

My mother, my friends, my teachers, my classmates, people who didn’t like me, grocery store cashiers, parents at the pool, aunts, friend’s parents, even men. Honestly, it’s probably easier to give you a list of people who haven’t said anything to me in my life. Most of them are probably heterosexual men.

By 9 years old (that’s the 4th grade for those of you who want the connection) it was terrible. I honestly like to think of myself as a people person. Someone who only wants the best for others. Who tries their best to make the people in their life happy. Can you imagine how hurt and broken I would feel when some of those things were said to me? Following an illogical train of logical thought: people I love (ignoring those I don’t) are unhappy with themselves. They say they are unhappy because of me. I make them unhappy because of the way I look (aka thin). I am naturally thin, no matter how much I eat or don’t eat: it’s just the way I am. The way I exist. My existence makes people I love unhappy. If I want them to be happy, I can’t exist.

People are probably now freaking out about how that doesn’t make sense, etc. etc. But doesn’t it? I know that maybe it’s a warped perception of reality, but honestly, it does follow a logical train of thought. And believe me, I followed it. I followed it to my bedroom one Saturday afternoon in September. I let it lead me to a pink sparkly belt in my dresser wrapped around my neck and tied up in my closet. Because I honestly couldn’t think of any possible way to relieve everyone of their hatred of themselves. I couldn’t find a way to relieve myself of my own deep, fathomless self loathing. And it would have worked.

But I was scared. It hurt. Suffocation does not get easier until you pass out, and that doesn’t happen nearly fast enough. By some miracle I’d put my art supplies where they were supposed to go: on the shelf in the closet (so that my baby sister couldn’t make a mess of the walls or carpet). Right above me head. I groped desperately for the scissors and managed to cut myself down. When I fell, I passed out.

The following months were horrible. No one knew. I forced myself to wear turtlenecks to hide the red lines on my throat. I couldn’t wear necklaces. I hated sweatshirts and zipping my jackets and coats up all the way. Scarves were my worst enemy. It took me a long time to be able to wear those things normally again. I still fidget with my necklines.

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am here and alive, and so much happier than I was. That’s what matters. But I saved myself. No one knew. No one found out. I used books to give me the real friends I needed. The support and belief that I was perfect the way I was. Harry Potter played a major role in that. Don’t laugh or scoff, you have no idea what magic in an ordinary place can do for a girl so depressed she tried to commit suicide. It brings light to a dark world.

So I got better. Yay. But honestly, why was I there in the first place? Environment. I do not think it unfair to say that if we did not breed an environment where it is not only acceptable but expected to RAGE against girls, teens, and women who are skinny, depression and suicide rates would decrease. Every day I bear witness to one of the worst double standards I have heard: anyone can comment freely on how thin people look, what they eat, how the exercise, diet, and what they SHOULD be doing. I’ve been called anorexic and bulimic by society simply because I’m small. What if I was? You think announcing it will help? And let’s face it, you’re not REALLY making yourself feel any better by talking about how you’re a “REAL” woman, are you? If I tried to point this out, if I tried to comment on a curvy woman’s appearance, weight, eating habits, exercise routine, etc., I would fall under fire. And not only verbally, but potentially from social media, perhaps even from my school administration.

Please explain to me how you can sit there and think it doesn’t hurt to call someone so skinny that you want to hurt yourself because of it? Please. I’d love to hear it. Because, as previously stated: I am sick and tired of it. I worked on my own self image a long time ago. I stopped tearing other people down and looked at my own life. My choices. My mind. My emotions.

Now I look at other girls and offer them a hand. Because making that journey on your own is like traveling down to hell and deciding to take up residence there. And maybe, with a friend, you can shorten that stay. I promote loving yourself. Working on yourself. Leaving other girls out of it. Because just like bullying, off handed, “funny” or “joking” comments on another person’s weight or appearance can lead to disorders, and potentially even suicide.

It isn’t funny. It isn’t a joke. It isn’t acceptable. Ever.

And I won’t stop until people change the way they think about it.

I’m a survival story. But I am one. And thousands aren’t.

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