Welcome to the Enchanted Body Trust Forest
It is cool and calm here, but also warm and welcoming
We are a Fat Friendly Space, like Cat Pausé’s Friend of Marilyn Podcast ♥
Body stories are largely missing from the zeitgeist of our time. We are often reluctant to dive into our body stories because we believe they are too taboo to share or too boring to be of interest or value.
In Reclaiming Body Trust, we shared body stories of those who have defied the standard narrative of body apology, instead demanding care and deep respect. These stories, once unearthed, encouraged others to share theirs, too.
Here is Nicole’s Story.
“I was 7 when I learned that something was wrong with my body. I had tried on my new dance costume for the upcoming recital and was so excited to show my mom. As I entered the room, she said something like “Oh, Nicole, your stomach…” I was puzzled. What? What about my stomach? I examined myself in the mirror and noticed an ever so slight curvature beneath the waistband of my hot pink spandex pants. Is that what she was talking about? And there, in that instant, a seed of self-doubt was planted.
The seed would sprout and continue growing throughout my childhood and adolescence. It looked like comparison. Body checking. Self-criticism. The belief that if only I looked different, I’d have more friends. Boys would like me. Comments from my mom when I tried on clothes reinforced the internal dialogue that would play in my mind. It was also during this time the beginning of emotional eating occurred. I wasn’t modeled the tools to cope with big feelings. I was left to deal with them on my own. And I couldn’t do it. So, I found something that made me feel better: food.
My whole life I’ve felt fat, even when I wasn’t. I think about the time and energy and emotion I wasted obsessing about my body. Why were my arms so big? My breasts too big? My stomach too big?
At age 23 I was a newly married, first-year teacher who had moved across the country so my husband could go to grad school. During this time, he joined a band and started touring, and this is when my full-fledged eating disorder began. I returned to the comfort of what I knew as a child, only this time it overtook my life. Bingeing became an everyday occurrence. I was so lonely- and eating became my lifeline; my friend. I began to gain weight. The more I hated how I looked, the more I ate to numb my feelings. The more I ate, the more weight I gained and the more I hated myself. I felt absolutely helpless.
My eating disorder accompanied me through nine years of teaching, another cross country move and a career change. And then, ate age 33 I became pregnant. And for the first time since I was 7, I was PROUD of my stomach. I WANTED it to grow. I wanted people to notice it- to try to touch it. I wasn’t ashamed to have it because I had another PERSON growing inside of me. I stopped bingeing almost effortlessly. It felt so liberating to be free of the mental and emotional weight of self-criticism. I was so hopeful that the days of my eating disorder were over. I was so proud of what my body had done- I grew a fucking human inside of it!
After my son Henry was born, I felt my eating disorder return; slowly, sneakily, gradually over the next several years. I entered an outpatient treatment program at age 38 and after graduating I began working with a therapist and dietician who introduced me to intuitive eating and health at every size. Was it possible that there was alternative to hating my body? I flooded my Instagram with body positive and fat role models. I unfollowed Facebook friends talked about dieting and made fat jokes. I started to embrace the word FAT. At first, I couldn’t hear it without cringing. But the more I experienced people use it as a neutral descriptor of themselves versus a word that was synonymous with laziness, disgust and hate, the more normal it felt. And then one day when I was talking to a friend, I referred to myself as fat. It just kind of slipped out- and it felt powerful. Like it wasn’t a word to be feared, but a word that was embracing who I was. I was finally speaking my truth.
I turned 40 last year and for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to start to turn the question “What’s wrong with me?” into “What’s wrong with them?”. Its become easier and easier to notice the systems of oppression in our culture that are meant to keep us hating ourselves. I’ve also begun to accept the fact that my weight is not entirely in my control. For the better part of three decades, I was convinced that if I could just “do things correctly” and “have more willpower” then I wouldn’t be fat and unhappy anymore. Now I’m coming around to the idea that it could be possible to love myself as I am. Its feels foreign and scary, but it also feels like coming home.”
What is the story of your body?
Collectively, we need to hear more body stories of others in order to feel less alone in our own. If you’re open to sharing your body story, we invite you explore our body story prompts and submit your own story here.
Your story has the power to change how we regard all bodies. Thank you for telling it.