2012 is winding down, and I almost can’t believe it. How does time fly? New Years is always an appropriate time for reflection (cliche but inevitable) and I’ve been thinking more about myself, 10 years ago… It might be because my Pandora is set to 90s music? But when you’re 18, you can’t really reflect on what it was like when you were 8. Now I’m at that age, where I remember what it was like 10, 8, 5 years ago. I remember why I thought the way I did, and why I did the things I did. And with all those memories– I can’t help but feel weird. Is that what happens when you get old– your younger self starts to become a bigger shadow?
Jeez, can I please not get old? #fountainofyouth
Anyway, the more I think about Saaghi circa early 2000s, I realize I haven’t confessed something that really haunted/dogged me for most of those years: My Body.
It’s no secret that Persians are very vocal about weight — “topol” (chubby) is a word that’s just tossed around, almost endearingly, but for a 13 year old girl– that word is damaging.
At least that’s how I felt about it. As a kid, I was never aware of what my body looked like to others. But when I hit puberty, and I had chipmunk cheeks, I was growing boobs, and I was all sorts of awkward–well, I became very aware of what my body looked like from the outside.
People’s comments only reinforced my insecurities and by the time I got to high school, I had also eaten my insecurities.
And lets just say braces + weight gain is not something you want to immortalize in a yearbook. In high school, every girl wants to be attractive and wanted. I was no different, but I was also a perfectionist. My friends were all 5’1 and 00’s at Abercrombie, and they were the girls I walked around with. In bathroom mirrors next to them I felt like a giant– I towered over them, and I felt 2x their size. Aside from my friends, at home I didn’t feel very accepted either. My dad will always be my harshest critic, and even at 14 he didnt hold back. He would talk about the “tire I was growing around my belly”, or how I was “topol mopol” trans: chubbsters. So I decided to listen to the universe’s signs, and take control of my weight. As a sophomore in high school, I was exercising and dieting…by the end of the year, i was skipping lunch and down to 750 calories a day.
It sounds awful now, but back then it felt so good especially because others’ feedback was so “Positive”. Persian relatives commended my weight loss, and how “Koochooloo” (small) I had gotten.
It was as if they had challenged me to a shrinking competition, and all I thought was ‘game on’. Of course, at some point control spirals into obsession, and there is no controlling that.
Low calorie diet wasn’t sustainable and with all the regular “Teenage angst” issues that come up, the hunger only made me moodier and bitchier. So I turned to laxatives and prescription drugs, so I could either suppress my appetite or get rid of the food (a.k.a guilt).
By Senior year, I was skinny with a 4.0 GPA but with a big eating disorder.
Of course, my parents caught on that something was up, and my Dad couldn’t wrap his head around my “problem”. He had seen War, Revolution… but a daughter with an eating crisis? He said to me,
“Do you know that your problem isn’t really a problem? It’s just your imagination.”
I know what he meant to say was “Saaghi, these are first world issues– open up your mind and get some perspective.” But somehow, that didn’t translate. and I couldn’t undo years of what I had been doing. And the guilt of disappointing my dad, drove me even further over the edge.
I’m not proud of how I’ve treated my body, but believe it or not, eating Disorders are like common colds these days. I can’t name many of my girlfriends who haven’t had one– and in fact, sometimes we’ve helped reinforce each other’s awful habits.
Whether it is with one friend who binge eats, or one who doesn’t eat much at all… Smart girls who get caught up feeling bad about the way they look, and then taking it out on the only always-available agent: their bodies.
So I think by writing this post, I can’t say I offer a sure-fire solution. Because I don’t think I’ll ever escape my complicated relationship with food– but if I’ve learned anything in the past 10 years, its that
– No one can validate the skin you’re in. That’s up to you. And its much harder to do that, than to live on five rice cakes a day.
– You risk to lose too much by obsessing over your flaws. Carpe that fucking diem.
– Confidence and control is not a number on the scale and it never will be.
I chased it for a long time, and so I know, trust me :)
There’s obviously more detail to my story, and I won’t bore you with it– but if it struck a chord with any of you joonies, you know where to find me :)
TWEET ME: @SAAGHI_JOON