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My Body Is My Own

Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

Around age 26, a shift in my mindset happened. A really good kind of shift; the kind of shift you wait, work and hope for. The kind of real shift that recovery is all about. It didn’t happen because of a certain weight, therapy session or epiphany.

This shift was a culmination.

I shifted into a mindset of agency.

Agency, in the philosophical and social science sense, is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. While conceptually this seems pretty simple, for someone with an eating disorder, the idea of acting independently and making choices free from an eating disorder’s influence can be complicated. Whether it was restricting, binging or exercising, attempts to nourish my body were generally sabotaged by negative thoughts in one way or another for over 12 years. Yet the whole time, the body exists. You can’t escape it to have a break from the negativity. It is there constantly, yet within that framework of disordered eating, it never felt like mine.

The shift happened over several years and modalities: taking a yoga class where I was deeply relaxed and connected with my breath; finding workouts that empowered me to feel good in my body and make friends rather than get a six pack; reading about feminism; learning that struggling with mental health isn’t something I needed to be ashamed of.

I didn’t realize this shift had happened until recently. I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror while thinking, as usual, that I still didn’t like what I saw. I still had eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. But that today, for whatever reason, I was feeling OK about myself, curves and all. My body felt energized, alive and free.

I had a thought: This body is my own. It’s mine.

I am so lucky to have it. This body can love, experience the world and dance, baby! Most importantly, this shift was about agency. No one else gets to make the rules for how I feel about my body. Not society, not an article on the internet, not a man, not an eating disorder. I get to choose how I exist in my body: curves, imperfections and all its glory.

This is me.
This is my body.
My body is my own.

Photo via Unsplash