Please tell me you read that title and at least THOUGHT about Salt-n-Pepa’s song Let’s Talk About Sex. I linked it, so you can have it stuck in your head too. Coincidentally, I probably should have called this post “Could there be any more links in one post?!” You’ll see why, but back to the point….the big long drawn out point. Yes, this will be a long one, and it may not be worth reading, but then again, it might, because a few weeks ago, I did something that really should have terrified me. It definitely pushed me right the hell out of my comfort zone, and it was worth every single second of it. But first, the backstory.
When I was in 6th grade, I met my new best friend on the first day of school when I dropped my pencil in Mr. Hall’s math class, and rather than tapping the shoulder of the girl in front of me to ask her to pick it up, painfully shy me instead chose to lean over as far as humanly possible to try to inconspicuously reach it myself. Well, that didn’t work, because I reached too far, tipped my desk over, right on to the foot of the cute boy next to me, turned 50 shades of red as the ENTIRE class watched me pick up my desk, (I mean how could you miss it), and then the girl in front of me, who I should have just asked for help in the first place handed me that stupid pencil. We’ve been friends ever since. Actually, I think if I could have lived at her house, I would have in a second, at any time during our childhood. (OK, let’s be honest, I’d move in with her now.)
We were pretty much inseparable during the weekends and summer. Our favorite activity? Riding bikes or walking to the Saloon/convenience store (it’s a Mexican restaurant now) about a mile away from her house to get snacks, and then going back to her house to make mix tapes. We certainly got our fill of that during the summer after 6th grade, which was good, because during the beginning of the next school year, my dad dropped a bombshell on us. We were moving to an island with 14 miles of state road in Southeast Alaska. RUDE! Try as I may, I couldn’t convince my family to just let me stay with my new BFF. I had to move with the family. Double rude! I mean, I ended up loving the place we moved, because there’s really nothing to not love about Sitka, or the people in it, but that’s beside the point.
I was always active when I was a kid. We worked and played outside all the time. I played basketball, volleyball, softball, and we swam all summer long and ice skated all winter. We didn’t eat a lot of fast food as a family; my mom cooked almost every meal we ever ate. We never thought of food as either good or bad, we just had food, and sometimes we had treats. But when we were moving, my dad said something to me that forever changed the way I viewed everything. “It’s good we’re leaving,” he said, “because you’re developing bad habits with your friend on the weekends.” The bad habits he spoke of? Convenience store donuts. Our favorite treat at the convenience store that we WALKED to was those mini powdered hostess donuts that you can buy in a package of like 6 or 8. We each bought one. We each ate one, and that apparently warranted worry. It wasn’t long after that, that I realized my mom was using the good old Slim Fast, shake for breakfast, shake for lunch, healthy dinner routine a few times a year to lose weight I didn’t even notice she needed to lose.
I was 13 years old the first time I made myself throw up. I’d just finished a very in depth report on anorexia and bulimia for my 7th grade English class. I was sure I needed to break those bad habits my dad had mentioned, and if my mom was always dieting, surely I could stand to lose some weight too. Besides, my legs were way bigger than the other girls I played sports with, and 13 year old me absolutely couldn’t fathom that this was because they were solid muscle from all of the sports I was involved in, and the way that my body is built. I couldn’t simply not eat, because we had family dinner every night. I couldn’t pick and choose what to eat, because that is certainly not the way it worked, so to be more like the other girls, to be more like the beautiful girls, I just threw up whenever I couldn’t stand the thought of all of the calories in the meal we had just eaten, when I needed to be skinny like the other girls.
I managed to hide this for 2 years before my sister caught me and told my parents. They made me go to a doctor, but I had this thing under control, so I told her what she needed to hear so I could just be done with it. Nobody understood that this was the only thing I felt like I could control. Besides, it’s not like I did it all the time, just when I NEEDED to. And it’s not like I had the self control to just quit eating, so I was still getting nutrition that I needed….until that time my senior year, when I really needed to feel like I had some control over something…anything, so I just quit eating, because if I couldn’t control what was happening in my life, at least I could control what went in to my body, and what stayed there.
The world we live in feeds insecurity. The world we live in makes it SO easy to develop eating disorders. How? Well, because the world we live in focuses SO much energy on physical appearance. When I quit eating, it took about a week before I had a noticeable loss of weight. One week until the comments of “You’re looking good” started coming in. And if I looked good at one week, just imagine what 2 did, and then 3. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I consumed MAYBE 10,000 calories over the course of 3 1/2 weeks before I decided I really needed to stop that. And I did, but not before “Wow, you look great” was just about all anyone could say. I weighed 110 pounds, and on my frame I didn’t look great. I looked sick, and I hid it with baggy clothes and makeup.
For 25 years now, I’ve had to fight an eating disorder mentality every single day of my life. I had a friend living with me once that understood this struggle completely. We decided one day that we were going to call our eating disorders Ed. Ed is a bastard, but it was comforting having someone else who got it. Someone else who we could just say “Hey, Ed is really difficult today,” and without saying another word, we knew that we just needed to be a support to each other.
Ed is an asshole, a constant, unforgiving asshole. I mean, I clearly beat the anorexia side of Ed, but I struggle with the rest of it ALL the time. If someone compliments my appearance, I will assume they need their vision prescription checked. Thanks Ed. If I eat something that isn’t healthy, I want it out of my body, like now. Sometimes I can fight that, but still to this day sometimes I can’t. Thanks Ed. I look in the mirror and see someone who is at least twice the size I am, even though my rational brain knows that’s not the case. Thanks Ed. If I don’t work out today, Ed helps facilitate all kinds of negative self talk.
I have amazing people in my life, who tell me things all the time that are contrary to what Ed and I believe about myself. I ALWAYS brush them off (internally) as “they’re just being kind because they’re my friend” but a few weeks ago, I stepped in to a beautiful studio in Jensen America and had some Ed therapy in the most unexpected of ways. The girl that hides from the camera because she isn’t happy with what she looks like, the girl that layers clothing so nobody can see anything she doesn’t want them to see stripped down to almost nothing, and pranced around the studio while the most amazingly talented photographer took the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. It was a 1-2 punch to Ed, because for the first time in my life, I looked at pictures of myself and didn’t immediately pick them apart. Mindy Gale and Ali Dudley (linked, so you can check them out on insta) worked magic; Mindy with the hair and makeup, somehow managing to make it look like I had slept more than 20 hours in the week leading up to the photo shoot, and Ali with the wicked photography skills. The hour or so that we took pictures for went by SO fast, and as I left the studio and went home looking and feeling absolutely amazing, I felt a peace with myself that I don’t remember feeling ever.
About an hour after my photo shoot, Ali sent me a sneak peek of a couple of images. I literally sat on my floor and cried, because she did something I honestly didn’t believe anyone could do ever. She took pictures of me that I loved. Yes, I still struggle with not being where I want to be, and I still wish I was as fat as I was the first time I thought I was fat, but Ed is far easier to deal with now than he has been in the past quarter of a century, and all it took was stepping way the hell out of my comfort zone, and in front of a camera.
A friend of mine once told me “I don’t know why any woman wouldn’t want to pose for Playboy. They are the best pictures you will ever have taken of you in your entire life.” He may have been on to something, but while every woman won’t have the opportunity to pose for Playboy, every woman should take the opportunity to strip down their insecurities, and their clothes, and do a boudoir session. And before you start to stress about boudoir now that I’ve thrown in the Playboy reference, it’s not about the sexy pictures. It’s not about the sexy clothes; you can keep all of your clothes on if that’s how you’re comfortable. It’s not even about getting those pictures taken for someone else, because Lord knows, if I waited until I had someone to have them done for, they’d never get done! It’s about the confidence you’ll find, because if I can find confidence in a picture, anybody can. Just do it for yourself. You’ll be so glad you did. As for me, I’m pretty sure Ed is pissed about losing some of his power, but I for one, am so relieved that a sweet blonde with a camera and her hair and makeup magician could take that asshole down a few notches.