Proud2Bme | Choosing to Shine After Bullying

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Choosing to Shine After Bullying

By Claire Trainor--Last night, my sister and I stayed up late looking through photo albums from 5, 10, 15 years ago. At one point, we came across a photo of me from when I was fourteen, the summer before my eating disorder started.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.
 

I remember how I felt when the photo was taken: disgust and loathing toward my body. But when I looked at it last night, the only thing I could think was that there was nothing about the girl in the photo that was worthless.

But back then, I felt it. Throughout my childhood and early adolescence, I suffered with body image issues. And while I could blame a lot of that on the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies, or body talk I heard from adults around me, bullying was a huge reason that I had such negative body image.

Young kids are excellent at taking what other people say and internalizing it—that’s why, in many cases, our beliefs mirror those of the people who raised us: we integrate what others say into our own ideas and beliefs. The problem with that comes when the things that people are saying are hurtful, mean and untrue. The things that people said to me, starting at a very young age, engrained themselves in my brain. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was seeing the world through bully-colored glasses—nothing was clear. More importantly, nothing was real. The way I saw myself isn’t how I look.

Fifteen-year-old Claire saw flaws in every inch of her body and wanted nothing more than to never be called hateful names again. In a lot of ways, 15-year-old Claire wanted to prove to all the bullies that she could be thin and pretty—the body type they had glorified throughout middle school. In many ways, my eating disorder started as a giant “screw you” to all of those who had ever commented negatively on my body. It was a way of saying, “you may have been right, but look what I did. Look how good I look now.” 

Of course, that’s not what happened. I didn’t just lose weight; I lost my family, friends, school, dreams and myself. In trying to prove that I could be what the bullies wanted me to be, I lost what I wanted to be. And, of course, there was more to my eating disorder than just trying to prove something to other people, but it was a huge part. It took some time—years, really—to realize that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone other than myself. I didn’t need to prove my worth to the 14-year-old boys who tormented me when I hit puberty a few years early. All I needed to do was be myself. The rest of it would work itself out.  

I still don’t have perfect body image. I still accidentally catch reflections of myself and think, “wow that girl looks good,” and when I realize it’s me I’m looking at, the image warps and I don’t see what I saw initially. To a certain extent, I may always see my body differently than other people do. But that’s okay. I like what I see.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.
 

About the blogger: Claire Trainor is a student at DePaul University majoring in creative writing and psychology. In steady recovery from an eating disorder, she wants to educate, support and inspire those struggling in any way. She likes her dogs, hot chocolate and books. Claire currently runs a (new) blog that can be found here.

For more on recovery, check out:

Undiagnosed but Not Without a Voice

Fighting for Recovery

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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