Writing the Book: Body Confidence. Body Love. Anorexia. 1


cat-body-language-confident

See this cat. See that swagger. That’s one cat who loves her body. I’m that cat.

One thing that came up for me whilst writing the book, was the subject of body confidence. You might assume that because I am writing about Anorexia, that my body confidence is and has always been rock bottom — but that’s not true. The opposite is true actually.

I’ve always been extremely body confident, even when I was a teenager. I wanted to make this very clear in the book in order to dispel the myth that all people who develop eating disorders suffer from poor body image and low self esteem.

I’ve always loved my body. I think my body is beautiful, and the only time that I have not thought this to be so was when my body was emaciated. I did not suffer from body dysmorphia — that’s another myth that all Anorexia sufferers see themselves as fat when they are in fact very thin. No. I was only too aware of the fact that my once beautiful body was no longer in front of me when I looked in the mirror.

That’s why I stopped looking in the mirror by the way: because seeing my own thinness scared the shit out of me, and also depressed me awfully.

Anyway, I struggled a little when it came to write this truth into the book. It’s difficult to express that one loves one’s own body without sounding like a narcissist. And I’m not that either, just in case you were wondering.

 

My secret love wasn’t fashionable at school

 

No, I’m not a narcissist; but I do love my body. It’s rather unfashionable to say that out loud, isn’t it?. Or to write it down. Self-deprecation is so much more en vogue. Everyone hates some part of their body, right? That’s normal, right?

Not me. If you were to ask me now, today, which part of my body I would change if I could change one thing (aesthetically speaking), I wouldn’t change any part of it. Not even the weird pixie bumps that I have on the tops of my ears.

I remember a discussion with friends at secondary school when I was about 15 about just that. Someone asked the “What would you change?” question and we were going around the circle saying what body part we’d like to alter. “My nose because it’s too big,” “My knees because they stick out,” “My bum because it’s too big,” “My boobs because they’re too small,” and so on. I sat there mystified because I couldn’t for the life of me think of one part of me that I would change out.

Then all eyes were on me. “Come on Tabby, what would you change?”

“My hair.” I remember saying my hair, because I couldn’t very well say “nothing,” without making myself unpopular.

I said “my hair” because it felt like the least treasonous answer I could give. Regardless, I still felt guilty for saying it. I felt like I had betrayed my body by saying that I would change part of it — even through I had only said that to fit in. Even through I had lied.

Later, when I was on the way home in the car, I said a silent “sorry” to my body for saying that I didn’t like my hair.

 

It’s not fashionable now either

 

I was a weird child. I am a weird adult. I apologized to my own body then when I felt I had slagged it off to my mates, and I still speak to my body now. I feel guilty when I do things that might hurt it, and I feel gratitude to it often. Sometimes I feel a sort of love for it that is overwhelming.

It’s not fashionable to admit that, is it?

I don’t care.

Lack of self esteem and poor body image often accompany eating disorders. This is true. But, lack of self esteem and poor body image often accompany being human it would seem.

I’d argue that both of these things are more to do with pressures of being human than they are to do with Anorexia or eating disorders specifically.

Assumptions around the symptoms for eating disorders can be dangerous. My cockiness, strident personality, and body confidence as a teenager is another thing that put me in the category of someone-who-could-never-have-Anorexia.

“Tabby can’t have an eating disorder. She’s just not the type.” That’s what many people thought. That’s what my GP thought. That’s what I thought too. That’s why I didn’t know that I had an eating disorder for so long. How can I have an eating disorder when I don’t hate my body?

Because having an eating disorder is a mental illness, and it is not about simply disliking one’s body. That’s why.

When we create a category of the type of person who suffers from any sort of mental or physical illness, we miss people in diagnosis.

I think it’s okay to admit it if you love every part of your body, even if nobody else is doing it. So there!

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About Tabitha Farrar

I work as Head of Marketing for a software startup in Boulder. As a recovered Anorexia sufferer, I advocate for proper understanding of eating disorders in my spare time. On that note, I wrote a book about my own journey into eating again called Love Fat.


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One thought on “Writing the Book: Body Confidence. Body Love. Anorexia.

  • Adult anon

    I think you have hit on something worth discussing here. I became ‘anorexic’ as an adult and I still can’t really put my finger on why. I didn’t have the body confidence you have but it still didn’t affect my life the way it affects younger people contracting ED. But I did have the low self esteem, made comparisons and developed ocd tendencies that I think got bigger and stronger, like an understudy waiting to take over. But I do think in some ways, thus is the human problem you describe, do food becomes an enemy when it should be the ally to make us stronger humans. So, therefore, we should be promoting well being, emotional, physical and psychological, in our treatment if ED to help overcome the battles. Whatever fight it is, whether it’s low self esteem or a challenge that affects the mind, it’s the mind as humans have, that becomes distorted. Somewhere along the line, that retuning needs to be fixed but it’s not always a case if one size fixes all. But realising good is not the enemy but an ally, can then help the sufferer on a path to discovering how to be happy in the skin you’re in for whatever different reason. It’s about using the strength we have as humans to beat the mental mind games that ED have over us. I read your book and it clicked with me. I needed fat. I needed good food. It helped control my hunger. I could think a bit more clearly. I’m still working on gaining weight and I still have ocd ED thoughts but I’m trying to override them with rational ones when they get louder. Like comparing myself to people, anyone I think looks better or seems to look better. Like when my husband has less breakfast than me, and I think I’m being greedy. I can use my human coping strategies and well being methods to try and override them. I know I have to see the positives in me. I know when I’m stronger I can say these and they’ll work. If I restrict slightly, I become weaker, physically and mentally. So good IS the answer, then the reasons for feeling the way we feel will be better solved. Sorry thus is a bit long, but I think it’s not a black/white subject.