“I have days, now, when I don’t think much about my weight. I have days, at least, when I see properly, when I look in the mirror and see myself as I am - a woman - instead of a piece of unwanted flesh, forever verging on excess” - Marya Hornbacher
For as long as I can remember me and my tummy have not been friends. My fleshy nemesis, it has been blamed for everything that makes me feel less than. Thin lips, too angry, not soft enough in temperament - all of my perceived flaws have at some point travelled all the way down my throat and wrapped themselves around my middle as an imaginary gut.
Sometimes, most of the time, I feel that my body is a collection of parts - ‘problem areas’ - and my tummy is in the centre. A beast that constantly demands to be fed, growling, forever verging on excess - every ‘undeserved’ calorie threatening to push it over the edge.
You’re told to trust your gut, but through magazines you also learn that there are tricks to convince your stomach that you're not really hungry. Drink water, chew slower, eat something small. Staying hungry without giving in is a battle I’ve never won but I’ve wished for a victory, wishing I had the self control to not eat. Not realising that my inability to remain hungry was necessary for survival. I’ve felt pure loathing towards my skin as I’ve grabbed it in handfuls and squeezed in frustration, wishing that I could rip away chunks of myself and flush them down the toilet.
Trusting my gut, learning that hunger is not a battle to fight against or second guess but a reminder that I need to eat is a journey I’m still taking. I’m learning that my body is a landscape. Exercise - so often rationalised as something to punish myself - is a gift. I try to be thankful that I am healthy and strong.
Most of all, I’m teaching myself that I don’t need to make myself smaller in an attempt to make big opinions more palatable. I'm allowed to take up space.