In less than a month, it will be summer time.
I love summer. I love the extra hours of sunlight. I love smelling the saltiness of the ocean air. I love going for walks and not packing a jumper.
I love summer. I hate it at the same time.
Since late 2010 when I was diagnosed with anorexia, I approach summer with mixed feelings of utter joy and complete fear.
It’s around this time that the media really turns on the marketing. You’ll see companies prey on female insecurity.
Get your beach body now! Get your bikini body ready for the summer months.
It fills me with anger and dread. Because I know, almost five years ago to the day, I was being bombarded by these messages. I took them seriously. I embraced them. And as a result I got sick. Very, very sick.
I know that there’s a young girl out there now who feels like her body isn’t good enough. She probably feels like she needs a flatter stomach for summer. She probably feels like she needs to lose weight. She is going through the same crisis I went through five years ago.
Maybe if I lose weight I’ll be accepted. That has to be the answer, right? It’s on every bus, every billboard, every television ad. Everything is telling me that I’m not good enough. That somehow I’m a failure as a woman because I don’t look like her.
I want to protect this young girl. I want to protect her from the harmful messages that poison her mind. But most importantly I want to protect her from herself. Because we are often our own worst enemies.
But there’s good news. We can also be our own champions.
I’ve had to be my own champion this year. I’ve had to actively remove and challenge unhealthy messages. When I see a weight loss ad on the television, I change the channel. When I see a weight loss post on Instagram, I leave the page. When I hear someone talk about losing weight, I have to change the subject. I know my triggers. I try to distance myself from them.
I’ve come to realise that I can’t escape the messages forever. I can’t run away from everything. I want to work in the media for fucks sake.
So now I to let it wash over me.
I’ll listen to the ad and I’ll analyse what’s behind it. I think about the marketing team that uses female insecurity to sell their product. I think about the chemicals in diet shakes that aren’t advertised. I think about the negative impacts of weightloss that no-one seems to talk about (irritable mood, metabolism disruption, nutritional imbalances). I think about how thinness made me more unhappy than I’ve ever been.
So instead of running from my triggers, I confront them. There are more triggers in the lead-up to summer than in the whole year combined.
Sometimes, they overwhelm me. I have days where I feel like I want to go back to my bad habits. To the ED world I know. Because it’s the easy option. Because I forget that it never made me “happy”.
Then I remember.
I remember that the only reason I feel like I need to be “thin” is because I’ve been impressioned by the media and large corporations. I remember that people make money off my insecurity. I remember that the quest to be thin didn’t serve me a purpose.
This summer, I want to forget the fear. I will recognise the triggers and I will analyse them. I will look forward.