When I was twenty-four, my then-girlfriend “almost” slept with a model. To be fair, I was quite a horrible person at the time and I don’t (and can’t) really blame her for looking around for someone halfway normal. (Turns out this model was not halfway normal either). Then-girlfriend said to me that my body was much nicer than said model’s- I was not as thin and therefore had a better bum (or whatever it was, I don’t really recall any more). Well that was when my eating spiralled out of control- or, should I say, my not-eating. It had been bad anyway but at that point it became full-blown disordered eating. It was born out of spite: fine, if that’s what you wanted that’s what you are going to get.
There was a shirt I used to wear to work, a shirt I had worn to my Grandad’s funeral. It had always been a bit small. As the days went on, the shirt became bigger and bigger until there was a substantial gap between my chest and the top. A woman at work kept saying to me, “you are getting even more slim. It looks great!”
Why do people do this? “You’ve lost weight” is used as a compliment always. It doesn’t matter that a person might have been ill, or have any number of negative reasons for losing weight. It doesn’t matter that the weight might have been lost through unhealthy means. It doesn’t matter that “you’ve lost weight” isn’t necessarily a positive thing! Nobody wants to hear “you’ve put on a bit of weight” (with rare exceptions). But why should that necessarily be an insult? Using “you’ve lost weight” as a compliment reinforces the idea that women should conform, or try to conform, to a certain body type. It’s a broken way of looking at things
Anyway, it was all the encouragement I needed. I became slimmer until I was thin, thinner until I was ill, iller until I barely existed and I wanted to be small enough to twirl in a circle and disappear.