Eat the Damn Doughnut

Sprinkle Donut Cartoon

By: Christine

I have always had a Jekyll and Hyde type of relationship with my body. More often Mr. Hyde, very little Jekyll. I was merciless – constantly berating myself for what I ate, and on the flip side beating myself up for never indulging like my friends could. All of this self-torment so I could hold myself to some unrealistic image of what I thought my body should look like. As women, I think we all relate to the pressures felt on a day to day basis to achieve an unrealistic body image. Accepting ourselves is constantly hindered by photoshop and mass media.

Last year, on a chilly spring morning in Chicago, I found myself on my therapist’s couch talking about how badly I had wanted to stop and grab a doughnut on the way to the session, but of course I didn’t because that would inevitably cause WWIII (In my head, of course… Thanks Mr. Hyde) This wasn’t an abnormal occurrence for me. I didn’t think much of mentioning this latest battle that was waging in my brain about the doughnut, in fact, I think I mentioned it in passing. But my good ole therapist spotted it from a mile away. “Let’s go back to the doughnut for a moment.”

The situation seemed borderline hilarious to me, mostly because I never craved doughnuts. It just so happened to be National Doughnut Day. Hence the weird craving. But the short-lived humor of the conversation wore off quickly and left me immediately on edge: Why do we need to talk about the doughnut? It’s pure evil, and this is just something I have to accept because food is not meant to be enjoyed, especially by me. Duh. I was expecting her to validate my feelings, and give me some miracle mind trick as to how to never crave junk food again. Then, this lady dropped a question that changed my life, “What would happen if you ate the doughnut?” …

This may not seem ground breaking to most of you, but for me, the inner monologue was more brutal than a Black Friday sale at Walmart. I went through 10 emotions at one time: Elated, thinking that she was going to tell me it was her professional opinion, nay, professional ORDER that I have to eat the doughnut. *Calories don’t count if they’re doctor recommended* I was also simultaneously astonished, wondering why my therapist was trying to trap me into a life of obesity and loneliness – all around this stupid. Fucking. DOUGHNUT?!

1935087_280042035367_2929335_n

Halloween 1998: 8 years old (left)

To understand why this was so earth shattering to me, let me take you back in time to 1998, also known as “2nd grade.” Little 8-year-old Christine was sitting criss-cross apple sauce with the rest of her class listening to our teacher reading a story after recess. I remember looking to my right at one of the other girls in my class, her legs seeming to be much smaller than mine… I looked back at myself and had the thought that horrifies me to my core now. “I’m fat.”

I’m Fat?! At 8 years old?! I can still feel the wave of disappointment that flooded my body. I am flabbergasted now when I think back on it. First of all… I was not fat. Second of all, this was never something that was in my working vocabulary at home. My family never talked about someone being fat or not. My parents were loving, confident people who made me feel beautiful and loved. So where in the world did I get this from? I still have no idea, but what I do know is that it was the first step on a very slippery slope.

182363_10151745976760368_1658367906_n

7th grade, 2004, with dad and older sister

By 5th grade I had decided to give up dance classes, not because I didn’t like them, but because I thought I was too fat to be a dancer. I would spend class time staring at myself in the mirror and mercilessly comparing myself to the other girls and deciding, for whatever reason, that I didn’t make the cut. By middle school, eating disorders were running rampant in my school. As an early bloomer, my “womanly figure” made me feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Allow me to share my incredibly skewed, middle-school vision of eating disorders now. I wasn’t able to bring myself to “commit” an eating disorder, (as if it was a choice) but I was sure as hell jealous of the girls who had the “willpower” to do it. I want you to let that sink in for a sec… I was JEALOUS of girls with EATING DISORDERS because I admired their WILLPOWER?! Never mind all the emotional toll an eating disorder takes on a person, no, no, no, I admired them for their illness. How unbelievably fucked up is that? That just goes to show my immaturity, and complete lack of understanding about the utter hell eating disorders are.

1934747_227266195367_5821057_n

11th grade, 2009

By high school I had moved onto trying to skip meals from time to time. Thankfully I couldn’t bring myself to purge or completely starve myself. I think a lot of the reason was because I did have and continue to have such a strong family support system. But of course, high school is also where boys came into the picture, which complicated my view of myself. I didn’t date much in highschool. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it felt like there was no one interested in me. Naturally, I blamed my lack of dating success on my body. It didn’t help that I was the “biggest” one of my friends. Most of my friends were size 2s, which made my size 6 ass seem GIGANTIC. Which, *side note*, FUUUUUUCK sizes. They’re never consistent, and are total bullshit to me now. No one knows what size you’re wearing, but they sure know if something fits you or not. So fuck sizes. Wear what’s comfortable and makes you feel beautiful. Okay, back to 2009. I finally decided to see a nutritionist. I ended up changing my eating habits a bit, and I lost around 15 pounds. Low and behold I got a boyfriend! You can imagine that this did nothing but further justify to me that I was right all along: skinny girls get boyfriends. Looking back, I don’t think the two were connected, but high school Christine sure did.

FullSizeRender-6

2013, with mom

This thinking followed me into college. Anytime anything didn’t go right in my romantic life, I blamed it on my body. And to throw something new into the mix, I was pursuing theatre… which kinda focuses on your appearance a smidge. Suddenly my dating life, my friendships, my career – hell my whole freaking life – hinged on my body… At least in my view. So I think that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and finally pushed me to try purging. I didn’t do it consistently, but from time to time when I just couldn’t take it I would make myself throw up. Thank god it didn’t consume me. It could have been so much worse. I shook that habit, and thankfully didn’t play around with it any more. Again I think I have my family and friends to thank for this. But even though I didn’t have the title “bulimic” or “anorexic”, there was something deeply broken inside of me. I counted calories like a madwoman, and would be paralyzed by fear at the thought of eating out or eating something of which I didn’t know the caloric value. My mom and my boyfriend at the time saw how much this utterly consumed me, and they did their best to be a support for me and to make me feel beautiful, but there wasn’t anything they or anyone could do for me until I was willing to help myself.

11707498_10155724053945368_3305584470744891470_n

Chicago Pride Parade, June 2015 (middle)

So… here we are. 23 year old Christine sits in her therapist’s office on National Doughnut Day 2015. “What would happen if you ate the doughnut?” What I thought was: Wtf do you mean what would happen? Clearly it would send me into a spiral where I can’t stop myself from eating everything in sight and I will get fatter and never get work (as an actress) and then I’ll be a giant failure and end up fat and alone forever. What I said was, “Um… what do you mean?” She talked me through the idea of eating the doughnut, taking time to enjoy the doughnut and then simply carrying on with my day, and most importantly not beating myself up for it. (Apparently this was something people did. Who knew?) So I had my assignment: Eat the damn doughnut. Then move on.

The pressure I would put on myself about what I ate, how much I ate, what I couldn’t eat, etc. was absolutely toxic and I was supposed to start practicing mindful eating, part of the whole “mindfulness” school of thought. To put it very simply: if I wanted something, like this doughnut, I was supposed to grant myself permission to eat it and not beat myself up about it. Then hopefully one day I wouldn’t feel like I had fucked up my whole life day by eating this one thing. I was to focus on limiting the negative dialogue I had with myself on a daily basis. If I was feeling “fat” or whatever some day, my assignment was to set that thought down, and instead focus on something I liked about myself. Now, I know, I know, I KNOWWW what some of you may be thinking. That’s corny or cheesy and that won’t work. Because, dear god, I thought the same thing. And it didn’t happen overnight, but gradually I started to accept my body for all of the wonderful things about it and to even embrace it.

I love my body, and I love myself, and it’s all because of the way I choose to talk to myself. Now, I’m in no way, shape, or form perfect at this. I still have my days where I don’t feel good about myself, but the difference is that now I don’t allow myself to spiral out of control with negative thoughts about myself. I instead actively choose to re-focus that attention on something I’m happy with about myself, whether it’s physical, emotional, theoretical, whatever! I feel the best I ever have about myself at this point in my life, and that, my friend, took a lot of hard work. And I also want to emphasize there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be fit, or better yourself or lose weight! There just needs to be a healthy dialogue and thought process surrounding your goals. R-E-S-P-E-C-T yourself, betches!

FullSizeRender-7

March 2016

I also think it’s crucial to point out that all of my issues with my body were so much deeper than my physical appearance. When I started talking positively to myself, and choosing to love myself, it was the first time in my entire life that I was able to truly speak up for myself. What I wanted, what I didn’t want, what I agreed and disagreed with. Before I had been so terrified to rock the boat because I wanted to be liked by everyone so badly. I still really struggle with this need to be liked, but it’s something I’m working on. And I’m proud to say that I’ve had several occasions in which I’ve stuck up for myself when before I would have kept my mouth shut. I’ve also learned how to, I believe the technical term is, “give less fucks” about what others think about me and my life. I think it’s SO IMPORTANT for women to empower themselves. Your relationship with yourself is the most important and influential relationship you will have in your entire life. YOU are the one who has to spend your entire life with YOU, so spend that time with someone you love.

I wish my story was one that was uncommon, but I have girl friends. I know other women struggle with these same thoughts and feelings. I’ve heard women I know say things off hand like, “Well I’m trying to lose weight, so I haven’t eaten in two days.” THAT’S AN ACTUAL QUOTE I HAVE HEARD. Or there’s those girls who put themselves on a month long diet of grilled chicken and broccoli so they’re “bikini ready”. 1) No way in hell is that sustainable. 2) That sounds so legit awful it makes my brain hurt. It just shakes me to my core, because I know how they feel, but I also just want to grab their head in my hands and tell them how beautiful they are and that they need to tell themselves that every day. I don’t know how to end this article without being completely cheeseball… so, I’ll conclude with this. You don’t have to settle for a life of self loathing. In fact, life is pretty sweet when you don’t.

If you or someone you know is struggling with something like this and needs some words of encouragement, feel free to email me at [email protected]
However, we at YNBF strongly encourage anyone dealing with an eating disorder to seek professional help. You can contact the National Eating Disorder Association through their confidential helpline (1-800-931-2237). Remember there is no shame in pursuing professional help through a therapist or counselor.

xoxo