In the October 9th
issue of People magazine, the cover story was “Going to extremes: Pressure to
be thin.” This story was ripe for Back in Skinny Jeans content,
however, I did not write about it, and it was noticeably so, since I got
several emails asking me why or nicely pointing it out to my attention. So now,
I’ll share with you why I didn’t jump on this story. But first...
When I first saw the People
magazine, I was all over it like Anna Nicole on media attention. I went to
People’s online site and they had a “first look” clip of the HBO documentary
and book “Thin” by Lauren Greenfield, a renowned photographer. The film debuts
on November 14th, and it takes place at Renfrew, a well known eating
disorder clinic. The cameras follow the every day lives of some of Renfrew's patients who agreed to share their stories. Lauren was on The Today Show
on Wednesday talking to Meredith Viera about “Thin”. On MSNBC.com, there is an excerpt from the
book where two of the girls share how far they have gone to stay thin. It’s
pretty eye opening stuff.
“Thin” rocks me at the core
Watching the clip to “Thin”
was shocking, very distressing, and something that affected me in ways that I
was not prepared for, or expected, frankly. It did something inside me that
rocked very hard and even got me thinking about shutting down Back in Skinny
Jeans all together. I did not want to write about it. I did not want to talk
about it. I was too emotional. I had to sit on this for awhile and figure out
why this one clip disturbed me so. Later, I realized why.
I do not want anyone to be
diswayed from watching “Thin”. In fact, I hope that many, many people watch it
especially parents and those in the fashion and beauty industry because you get
to see what life is truly like for someone who is literally dying from an
eating disorder. If you as a loved one don’t step up and help or do something,
this is where your daughter/sister/wife/girlfriend/niece could end up. It can happen
to boys too, but most often it will be the girls. And for individual women, you
know you have a problem, and it is a serious one. You can get help before you
get further down this path. These young women who were featured in this
documentary are very brave and courageous people, and I have great respect for
them for sharing it like it really is. By revealing themselves, they are
helping others to heal as well.
I’ve been there too
Watching the clip of “Thin”
was very hard for me because, once upon a time, I was one step away from being at a place like
Renfrew. Watching the girls in the clip made me relive some of those exact
feelings that those girls were going through. Bulimia for me started when I was
19, a sophomore in college, and it dominated my 20’s. Into my 30's, I had to do something. I finally
got REAL about healing from the bulimia after it got worse during a 5-year
period, which was catapulted when I was raped by a boyfriend. I kept the rape a secret for that whole 5 years. The binging was a way for me to stuff the feelings I didn’t want to feel,
and the purging was a symbolic, albeit unhealthy, way for me to spew out the ugliness and disgust
about the rape, as well as to get out the perpetual guilt and anger I felt about about not fighting for
myself, protecting myself, and loving myself enough to do something to make
that man accountable for what he did to me.
After the rape happened, I kept it a secret, even from my best friend, because it was more important for me to maintain the “Perfect Girl” image. People need to know that the desire to be "perfect" can be an all encompassing belief system which can drive you to do illogical things. The only way I got validation in the world was by being the perfect one so I was not going to let anything jeopardize that. I was so wrong on so many levels, but in my head that is all I could see. I was buried in denial and pain. It was too much pain for me to ask for help and to see the truth. I had always been the strong one, the responsible one, the one in charge, so for me to let go and be vulnerable, be at a loss for what to do, and be taken cared of was not in my realm. So, my body did it for me.
Beginning the healing journey
I had a complete emotional
breakdown (which I now call a break-through) which resulted in a 3-month
medical leave from work, and then a resulting resignation from that job upon my
arrival back because I realized that my work environment was incredibly toxic,
and I was never going to be able to heal with that in my life. I was tired of
suffering in silence. I was tired of constantly feeling alone. I was tired of
punishing my body. I was tired of living a lie. It was the first time in my
life where I made a decision to put my life before my career, to put my life
before anyone else’s needs, to put my life before my “image.” I finally stood
up for myself, and started being the real me.
When I quit that job, I
walked away from six figures worth of pre-IPO options I was close to completely vesting. The decision to leave should have been harder but ironically, the money
didn’t matter to me because I wanted freedom, badly. I wanted time. I already had enough money
to take off for a few years. Staying longer only to vest was not worth staying one
more minute in hell for me. I thought for sure my parents especially my dad was
going to be disappointed in me for leaving that much money on the table. I was
so close, so why not stick it out.
I was afraid to tell my dad
and wanted to “spin” the story, but I decided to tell him the truth. I took my
first steps at being authentic. And to my shock, my father supported my
decision. He listened to me, and he consoled me. That day gave me the courage
to finally tell my dad, one month later, about my secret. I told my dad that
his little girl, his only girl had been raped. I watched his heartbreak. I watched the unthinkable sorrow fall over my father’s face, as he absorbed what I was sharing
with him. As the tears fell down his painstaken face, dad hugged me like he had
never done before. We cried together in a way that was both freeing and cleansing. I shared my pain with my dad, and told him that I was sorry that I did not have the courage to come to
him before. Sharing my secret with my parents has brought us to a place of love
that I would never have imagined in my life. I am truly blessed.
What makes me an authority to blog on beauty and body issues
I’ve been asked what makes
me an authority to blog about beauty and body issues, and I tell people that I
didn’t study the subject like a PhD would, I lived it. I have been in and out
of therapy. I know what works and what doesn’t work. I have been to the doctors
and specialists. I have been on various pills and medications. I have been a
“lab rat” in research studies. I know all the games and tactics we play in
order to avoid detection. I have had the fights and denial with my parents. I
have lied to family, friends, and boyfriends. I have been in group therapy
where I cried my eyes out because I was so incredibly angry that I could never
be one of the size 4 girls. I cried because I believed that I didn't have the love of a special man in my life because I wan't a size
4. I really believed that you had to be thin and pretty in order to be loved and cherished.
I started blogging here at Back in Skinny Jeans to do something positive with my experiences, and to put myself in the driver seat of my life instead of being the victim. I also wanted to educate and not only share the ugly truths, but to show the positive examples, get snarky, and share some laughs. Laughter has great healing properties. My stories are from the perspective of someone who is still healing and learning, and wants to help others.
The “Thin” clip reminded me that you are never cured from an eating disorder. Taking pills and going to therapy is not going to make it all just go away. Hiding from life will not make it go away. There is no quick fix. Like alcoholism, drug addiction, or any addiction that takes over your life, taking ownership and responsibility is how one heals, and moves toward a better life, a healthier life, a happy life. Communicating, and shining the light on the places that are dark is how one heals. Healing is an on going process, and one that needs nurture and care, and support. To all those on a journey of healing from an eating disorder, you are not alone, you are not damaged goods, you are not unworthy. You have help and love available to you at any time. All you have to do is ask. I’m so fortunate I did.