I’m growing a little tired of the ideal body. Not necessarily that it’s a size 0 or 2 which, for the record, is only attainable by a small percentage of the population naturally (aka without starvation/radical measures), but the very notion of an ‘ideal.’ There seems to be ideals even in recovery- ideal recovery bodies, recovering for boobs or ‘the booty,’ getting perfect abs or toned arms, etc. There’s target weights, goals of growing a certain shape and stopping the recovery process there and it’s wrong.
I understand where these motivations come from, I do. I understand that having a healthy mindset around gaining weight and recovering is absolutely necessary for those who are in the depths of their eating disorders. I understand that it can be difficult for us to envision our bodies at a larger size and being beautiful so we focus on things like booties and boobs. It makes us feel better while we’re putting on the necessary pounds to save our lives.
Here’s my problem with it:
It’s still disordered. It still feeds your disorder just in a different way. That’s why it makes it easier. You’re catering to your ED, not breaking free of it. You aren’t embracing your natural shape that’s determined by your genetics. You’re still trying to change your body to fit some new ideal. Regardless of what the scale says, fighting your natural body is still hurting it. I don’t care if you’re naturally a 4 or naturally an 8. If you’re striving for anything less than that, you’re hurting yourself. There is absolutely no way you will ever be free of your ED if you don’t let your body settle where it’s naturally supposed to be. Where you’re optimally healthy. The only way your mind heals is if you let your body do what it needs to do. Trust me.
I was in quasi recovery for a long time. Years. I was better, but still not at my optimal weight. I was told I looked fantastic and healthy but I was dying inside. Both literally and figuratively. I still didn’t have my period, I was in pain a lot, my bones were weak, I had very little energy, my hair fell out on the daily and my moods were all over the place. When I reached a size 2, there was still no period. Size 4 and things were getting better but I still had body dysmorphia and some of my behaviors hadn’t gone away. I still obsessed over calories, exercising, stomach pain was still present and I was still terrified of certain foods and gaining weight.
Then I settled at a size 6. Something I honestly didn’t think I’d ever do again. Oddly enough, all of a sudden, the body dysmorphia went away, I didn’t go crazy over calories, I took a lot more rest days and didn’t really care if I was lazy some days. I didn’t compensate my food to make up for doing less, my appetite regulated and I never thought twice about going out to eat, having a drink, eating dessert, eating whatever I wanted, etc. I also started to really, really love my body. A lot. My stomach swelling reduced greatly (I still have some weight distribution taking place), my hair became strong and thick and I had the energy I was so desperately working for.
I could very well go up to a size 8 over the next while if that’s where my body wants to be. Maybe it won’t. An overshoot is also possible and maybe I’ll go back to a size 4 (I always fluctuated between 4 and 6 pre ed), maybe I won’t. Honestly? I don’t really care either way. That’s how I know I’m recovered. My body is what it is and it’s beautiful in it’s own right. MY ideal body is whatever body can walk all over the city as I don’t have a car. It can be intimate with my fiance, it can eat what it wants, it can do yoga, lift weights if I feel like it, work long hours and laugh until it hurts. My ideal body feels awesome most of the time, sleeps through the night, has very little anxiety, has clearer skin and beautiful hair. It had bright eyes, strong legs, finally has boobs again (doesn’t matter what size), and dances through the day. I don’t care what it looks like, I care what it feels like.
When you feel healthy and happy, that’s the reflection you see in the mirror. Your ideal body is whatever one provides you with the life you love most and nothing short of that. If you’re still looking in the mirror and hating your reflection, you’re not there yet. Give it time and trust your body. It knows what’s best. Please, relax, eat the food, and do your best to not stress over the shape of your body (easier said than done).
I can almost guarantee once you’re truly healthy, you’ll learn to love and appreciate the body you live in. It’s a miraculous machine, your body. It’s also incredibly beautiful.