I Am A Black Woman With an Eating Disorder

I am a twenty-five year old black woman who has struggled with my weight my whole life and within the last six years, an eating disorder. I am choosing to speak on this matter because I think people think a thicker girl couldn’t have an eating disorder and especially a black woman.

I can remember the exact time and place where I was when my anxieties took over. I was eight years old, getting dressed in the bathroom for school and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked really hard. I thought, I couldn’t look like this, I don’t feel like I look like this. I wondered why so many kids teased me. I now saw why. I was a chubby first grader with a belly and glasses. At that moment, I started hating myself. I know you are thinking, but that’s so young. I know. When I was really little I would hardly look at myself because I just believed I looked a different way. I would look at my mother, who is light-skinned with long full hair, and figured I must look like her. All I cared about was having fun.

I started putting on weight after my parents’ divorce when I was three years old. I can’t remember much but I hear I took it hard. My grandmother tried to love me through food. I had never eaten fast food, or candy, or anything fried but my mother had to go back to work and my grandmother was taking care of me and that’s what she fed me. I just I learned to like it. It should be known that my grandparents are from the deep south and believed in eating a lot of ham hocks, fried chicken, greens, bacon, biscuits—southern cooking in general with lots of Crisco.

I was born and raised in a predominately white city. It’s a small city. 80% of the population is white with only 14% black. The majority of the black population is related to each other, so you can imagine how hard it was to date when you got older. Always asking, what’s your last name and are you related to this family? But I digress. I went to a private school with only five black kids in the whole building, ages k-8. One of them was my cousin. My classmates constantly compared me to her. She was super skinny like they were and I wasn’t. Why was I so big, they would ask. Sometimes, they would put on my clothes during gym class and make fun of me. One boy bullied me very badly all my years there. In this town, if you weren’t a super skinny black girl, you were ugly. I didn’t understand it. It was only the girls and that one guy who treated me like this. The white boys at school loved me, go figure. I contemplated suicide in the seventh grade and that’s when my mother had me change schools to a public school. Best move she ever made. The kids there accepted me for who I was, no matter what my size. Everyone was shaped differently. But my problems did not go away with a change of school.

At home, my father’s family would constantly compare me to my skinny cousin. Telling me how much prettier she was and how she would get farther in life, even though I had a 4.0 GPA since first grade. My aunt would give Christmas presents to every kid in the family but me. She gave me a pillow from her couch. Even though school was better, my family was constantly belittling me. My mom caught on and made a big change. We moved to Hampton, VA for my first year of high school.

I was mad about it at first but it was the best! I lost some weight when we first moved there because we didn’t have a car so we had to walk everywhere, plus, it was so damn hot, you sweat like crazy! Walking around the neighborhood, I had never seen so many black people in my life. It was freeing really. They were all very nice. I went to school and all the girls there looked like they could be my twin. Everyone looked just like me, with hips and thighs. A lot were even bigger than me. They had so much confidence and dressed so well. Plus, they all had boyfriends. Some of their boyfriends were the finest guys I’ve ever seen. I gained so many friends. I became popular. I had two cliques of friends and when I turned 17, I got my first boyfriend. He was older but looked like TI and Shamar Moore all in one. Everyone was jealous of me. He loved my shape. Lots of guys did. So I started dressing better, feeling better and got a little cocky in my high school years.

My eating disorder started when I got my first serious boyfriend when I was eighteen. He was verbally and sometimes physically abusive and wanted very much to watch what I looked like. I had to be dressed up all the time with make up on and not gain weight because I represented him. It was a lot of pressure. The abuse is what caused my self-confidence to take a dive. It didn’t help that he cheated on me and got that girl pregnant while I was away at college. A young white male also sexually assaulted me during that time.

College was fun but new pressures of image arose. I went to school in Boston and it was a melting pot of nationalities. I never met so many black kids from different countries but unfortunately, they didn’t think well of black Americans. They thought we were less than them since our ancestors mixed with other races and were slaves: that we were tainted somehow and our skin color wasn’t right and our noses all wrong. Not all of these kids felt this way but the ones who did made it known. There were quite a few altercations at my university of this nature. I don’t want you to think my university was bad; I still had fun and made great friends.

With all these things going on and with my history, I started to think if I was skinnier, maybe people wouldn’t treat me this bad. It has been a long journey but I am finally coming to terms with the fact that none of this is my fault. I still struggle with my eating disorder but learning more about it and discovering things I love to do and that I am good at is really helping me. I have the love and support of a few loved ones. I try to ignore those who have put me down my whole life but it’s hard when I have recently become a caregiver for my sick grandmother. It is time I live life more for me because I’ve only got one shot. I know I will never be skinny. I probably will never have the body of Beyonce. It is a hard pill to swallow. Right now, I am focused on learning to like myself and finding joy in my accomplishments. I can run faster and longer than ever before. I am learning to swim, a life goal of mine. I am stronger than I’ve ever been and feel better. I am in shape, with a waist and a booty that sticks out just like I like it.

Visit my blog: http://www.sexyflirtyandfit.wordpress.com/

Submit your story here: http://arkstories.com/bodyimageblog.html

Copyright Ark Stories 2011

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