My Struggle with the Freshman 15


This semester, I exposed myself – quite literally – in one of the most personal pieces that I have ever written for my student paper. The paper is circulated widely throughout each of Simon Fraser University’s three campuses, and has a massive online presence as well. In the article, I came clean about my unhealthy struggles trying to avoid putting on weight in my first year of college. As post-secondary students, we always joke around about the infamous freshman 15 – pigging out to no end and having a terrible time managing our weight due to stress eating and a lack of time to cook or do adequate exercise. Though the term is often used lightly, in my case, the freshman 15 was ultimately what pushed me to developing an eating disorder. 400300p2999ednmain1840avoid-the-freshman-15.jpg

I was never really happy with my body at any point in my life. Looking at old photo albums would make me cringe at terrible fashion choices, chubby cheeks and a core section that I didn’t hide very well. Puberty was good to me I guess, as I had stretched out (and have since stopped at the ginormous height of 5’2″), gained some pretty reasonable sized breasts, and developed somewhat nice hips.

But I lamented day and night that I wasn’t skinny enough. This was my struggle all throughout high school – I wanted to be skinny, but I didn’t want to give up my eating habits or my relationship with the couch and the TV. My only real activity was gym class and running late to class.

Then senior year rolled around, and I reminded myself that at the end of it all, I had to be in front of all my peers in some sexy dress that made me look like a princess. So at the beginning of my senior year, I made it my goal to slim down by any means – even if it meant cutting back on some junk food, eating more healthy meals and actually taking physical activity seriously.

Throughout high school I had fluctuated between 110 and 120 pounds. By the night of my graduation, I was 105 pounds. 18 years old, 5’2″, and 105 pounds.

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What it means to be recovered


Yesterday kicked off Eating Disorder Awareness Week. With my last post already bringing awareness to why I, among others, came to suffer with eating disorders, I wanted to dedicate this one to what it means to be recovered. There is a lot of ambiguity around the topic, yet it is certainly one that needs to be discussed – keeping those who have recovered in the conversation.

I feel as though there is an idealized form of recovery, filled with sunshine, flower crowns, and no desire to look in the mirror because you know your inner beauty radiates to the rest of the world.

If, of course, that is you or the goal you wish to achieve, then I support you entirely.demi.jpg

But that is not my recovery. And I feel as though it may not be for many people.

For me, recovery is living with all its uncertainties: the good days and the bad ones, the progress and the setbacks, hating the illness then wishing it still consumed me.

There were days I spent heaving over a toilet bowl and skipping meals, begging my body to let me feel empty again. I realize I cannot starve myself as I used to be able to, which is the most dreadful feeling of weakness that you can imagine.

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My Eating Disorder: Not a choice, but a lack of control


I’m not entirely sure what the general population thinks about eating disorders. Like most mental illnesses, they’re not usually talked about. And when they are, they’re mainly glamorized, used in the wrong context, or viewed in a negative light. Some see these illnesses as tragically beautiful. Others single out naturally skinny women and label them anorexic. People make crass speculations like: “It’s a choice” or “It’s just for attention.” I truly hope that most people don’t believe these toxic assumptions. But I suppose for some, it is still a question of how and why people find themselves with eating disorders.

Quite obviously, I can’t speak for everyone. But I can explain why I think I became anorexic.

Was it my choice?

In short, no.

I did not choose to grow up in a society where women are told they’re only beautiful if they index.jpgare thin. My family also propagated these ideas. With a sister ten years my senior, I was exposed to dieting from a young age as I watched her try every restrictive meal plan in the book. My mother would always mention that after her divorce, she dropped below a hundred pounds. My aunt would then respond by saying how pretty she looked then, until she met my father and gained all the weight back. My father would describe gorgeous women as being “a hundred pounds soaking wet.” And so, I began to see being skinny as a sign of strength and beauty.

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