“Alone I lived inside my head,
never wanting to leave my bed
On the outside so strong and tough,
but inside never good enough
I spent each moment wrapped in fear,
afraid of looking in the mirror
What power it had over me,
it’s reflection was my enemy
My bones were not distinct enough,
my stomach still too round,
I weighed my worth in numbers and hated every pound
My body ached from hunger and I relished in the pain
This war I fought within myself was driving me insane”
I was an amazing little girl.
At 8 years old, I was extremely confident and opinionated with a huge heart that I wore on my sleeve and shared with everyone around me. I believed I could do anything I could dream of. But that all changed when I was 17 years old.
When I was 17, my big brother passed away from a liver disease we had no idea he had until it was too late. When my parents got divorced when I was 10 years old, my father walked away and Billy became the man of the house and a superhero in my eyes. He loved me unconditionally and knew when to stand in front of me to protect me and when to stand behind me to encourage me. When Billy died, a huge part of my self-esteem died too.
Being a teenager is challenging enough, being a teenager and dealing with such a huge loss was too much for me to handle. I no longer felt like I had any control over my life, so I turned to the one thing I could control.
Billy’s death gave birth to my eating disorder and would completely take over my life for the next 20 years. I felt guilty for being alive and decided that if I was going to take up space in this world, I couldn’t just be “average”, I had to be spectacular. But I didn’t feel special. I didn’t think I was smart or interesting enough so I decided that I had better be pretty enough and to my seventeen year old self, pretty meant skinny.
When I was 8 I thought I could anything; when I was 17, I thought the only thing worth being was skinny.
I started by starving myself. What followed was a brutal cycle of extremes. I would spend months starving myself and over exercising, then months binging. I gained and lost weight dangerously.
Some lowlights from my disorder:
Walking for an hour to a 24hr gym at midnight to work out for 2 hours before walking back in the middle of the night because I thought sleep was for lazy people.
Driving myself to the hospital from the gym because I was sure the fat burners I had taken were causing a heart attack and then doing the same thing 2 weeks later.
Hearing my kids ask, “Mommy, are you going to eat today or just watch?” every time we went out for dinner.
Having to come up with excuses as to where my kids’ Halloween candy went, when I had all of the empty wrappers hidden in my closet.
Being too weak from not eating or too full from overeating to walk up the stairs to tuck them in at night.
Passing up family vacations, job opportunities and personal relationships because of my intense lack of self-worth.
But I was lucky.
I reached a point where the pain of my behaviour was worse than what had started it. I wanted my life back and needed to be the kind of mother my kids deserved.
I got help and found recovery.
Then the real change came. I couldn’t believe how prevalent eating disorders had become amongst kids of ALL ages. I felt compelled to do something about it. I created the Fit vs Fiction body image workshops that I present to kids as young as first grade and their parents. I share my story so they’ll feel safe sharing theirs. I use pictures, stories and games to empower them with the tools they need to tune out the negative messages thrown at them by society about beauty while explaining the motivation behind media manipulation.
Kids want and need to talk about this. Fit, beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes and every child deserves to be proud of who they are, instead of judging who they think they’re not.
Self-worth shouldn’t be measured in pounds.
A little about Marci:
I’m a 46 year old mom to 2 teenage boys. I work as a body image advocate, writer and public speaker. I’d rather hike than shop and just got my 11th tattoo. I’m a big fan of inappropriate humour and people who tell it like it is. Former Montrealer living in Toronto. Life is about progress, not perfection and I’m just doing my best.