TW: thoughts centred around disordered eating/binge-eating disorder, body dysmorphia, and self-destruction.
Helloooo :) I’m Bri, pronounced like the cheese, and I deal with disordered eating. Wow, that feels good to write. Specifically, my eating disorder (ED) is referred to as binge-eating disorder (BED). Shit, that feels so good to write! It feels good to write that I deal with an ED because for many years, I hid that part of myself. I believed I might come across as a weak person who has no will power if I declare I have BED. But it’s time for a declaration.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when my relationship with food became toxic but looking back at my old journals, it was around the time I was 15 years old.
Flashback - It is the summer of 2013 and I am participating in an intensive ballet program in a different province. For the first time, I have to plan out my meals for myself. I have to rely on what my body is telling me and what signals it is sending me. After a long day of dancing, my body tells me that I am hungry. Food, please! So I listen, and I feed my body with whatever cravings it wants. Oftentimes, I would feed myself to a point of discomfort. Ouch! Stomach is filled. Then, I would throw up the food that has already gone down my throat, and I would pray that I got it all out. Noooo! I need that nutrience! Next, I would prevent myself from eating due to the fear that I would overeat again. Help! I am in pain! Thus began a cycle that would continue for many years.
eating to the point of discomfort,
purging when unhappy,
body checking in store windows,
sucking in my stomach,
preventing normal breathing patterns,
choosing diet fads that did not align with my body,
lying to loved ones about my issue,
being jealous of others for having the “ideal body”...
My habits were distractions to rid me of having to make healthier choices. Not good.
Later on in my teens, I realized that my body had been trained to reject certain foods because they were deemed “unhealthy for a ballerina”. Growing up, I wished so badly for a “ballerina body” that I stopped listening to my natural hunger signals.
There were wonderful moments in my adolescence, and I am lucky to have had the opportunities I did. Yet, along with those delightful moments came many moments where I completely missed the parade. I was self-destructive. It got to a point where I stopped believing in my ability to be beautiful. I couldn’t accept compliments from others because I didn’t think I deserved to be beautiful. At least, MY definition of beautiful. Looking in a mirror, my mind would distort the image I saw, and I would only see a monster looking back at me. The reflected image of my stomach area reminded me of a globby-goopy-monster who gobbled on anything in its garden. My neck area, in its reflected image form, reminded me of a mogully-manufactured-monster who munched on megatronic meals. I write “the reflected image” because that is not what was actually there. My ED enveloped my sight and blinded me from who was actually in the mirror. A human. A body.
Flashforward to the present - I am 23 years old, a graduate of Ryerson’s BFA Dance program, a podcast host, and a lover of musical theatre. Most importantly, I have been in ED therapy for over a year now. Working with counsellors one-on-one, and with BED group therapy facilitators. These experiences have guided me to take action to control my ED and seek health. Three times a day (perhaps more) I face food. In order to nourish myself, I confront the history of pain that I’ve battled within the presence of food. The binging, the starving, the hateful thoughts towards my stomach and neck areas... I try to remember the tools I’ve been given and I try not to revert back to my old habits. And that can be EXHAUSTING at times. I often get tired from trying to eat!!
My relationship with food will continue to be rocky, even with the therapy I am involved in. Grocery store shopping is still an anxiety-inducing experience. Ordering at a restaurant, before COVID-19 restrictions, takes me longer than most people I know. When I sit down with a friend to eat, my ED voice pulls up a chair at the table too. An uninvited guest. A loud, arrogant cousin with a million statements in my head: Ignore your cravings, conceal your taste buds, only eat the vegetables, don’t even think about dessert, wait to eat until someone else has started, wHYYyyy are you thinking about dessert?! Stop eating you fat piece of shit!! This dialogue can be louder than my healthy thoughts. I feel guilty thinking about some of the interactions I’ve had with friends because I wasn’t being present with them. Half-dealing with the ED voice, half-engaging in friendly conversation. What a fucking mess.
I hope that every dancer, and human, does not put themselves what I put myself through. As a dance teacher, I try to incorporate affirmations of gratitude towards the body in my classes. Thanking the muscles and joints that brought each student to the class. Practicing those positive thoughts of love to the body, helps me remember that my body is mine, and I have the power to nourish it.
I’ll leave you with this affirmation - I am responsible for what goes in my mouth. (you can use this in a sexual situation too!!)
All jokes aside, this affirmation has helped me to eat with mindfulness and with love for my body’s signals. Eating is what propels me into living a happier life.
And I am done being angry at my body.
My website: themusicthemirror.com
Some resources to check out:
- Sheena’s Place Organization (link here) - center for eating disorder support
- Mindfully Megg on IG (@mindfullymegg) - helps educate & empower dancers to prioritize nourishment
- Kathryn Morgan on YouTube (link here) - professional ballerina who makes honest videos about her journey with body image issues
I'm Maddi and Im a full time student (studying Child and Youth Work), and a self proclaimed content creator. Here I have my blog and my shop, I hope you enjoy!