by Danielle Vandenbok
I am almost 18 years old, I have a great boyfriend, a handful of friends, a supportive family and I am attending university. I look like your average teenage girl, but in my mind things are far from normal. My whole life is ahead of me, thousands of exciting experiences to be had, but instead all I can think about, all that consumes me is that number that appears every time I step onto those unforgiving, corrupting set of cold, cruel scales.
From the ages of 6 till 12 years old my life revolved around gymnastics, a competitive sport in which being small is beneficial. Despite my tiny pre-pubescent physique I began to establish this idea in my mind that small=good, a concept that would haunt me throughout my teenage years.
After quitting gymnastics and beginning highschool I blossomed into your average 13 year old girl, sporting a bad haircut, horrible skin and an interesting fashion sense. Through my first few years of highschool I only lightly touched on the issue of self esteem, as my friends and I experienced the usual pressures placed on teenage girls, embarking on many crash diet schemes that usually ended a day later with us all digging guiltily into a communal bowl of salty, delicious chips dripping with vinegar.
However, when I hit year 10 and turned 15 my body decided it was time to change. It seemed that out of nowhere I had boobs and hips and thighs, which matched with my intense sweet tooth was destined to end in some future issues. As I continued to consume copious amounts of marsbars, musk sticks and redskins, the weight began to pile on so eventually my once slim X kg figure of only a year ago had ballooned to an unhealthy and fairly jiggly X kg. I desperately struggled to cope with this dramatic change from being such a tiny person to someone with curves and E sized breasts.
By the time I turned 16 (with a far better haircut) I was sick of feeling big and unhappy and tried to become proactive about my weight, cutting out all the fatty, sugary foods from my diet and exercising regularly, a welcome change. Slowly the weight began to drop off and I remained throughout the rest of my highschool years at a steady, stubborn X kg. Despite this being a healthy, normal weight for me, I still wasnt happy, but with the pressures of year 12 exams and my flourishing social life, I had little time to think about weight, so the issue was pushed aside.
After I finally finished highschool and was accepted into university, I thought I was finally free. But in reality I was about to trap myself in a cage of self abuse and torture that seemed impossible to escape from. With the holidays stretched in front of me and no school work to focus on, I began to become more conscious about my weight and fitness level, monitoring the amount of food I ate and how much I exercised. I began counting calories, an obsession that for me marked the beginning of the end. Just after my 17th birthday I got myself a gym membership, and became obsessed with working out and burning off at least X calories a day while only consuming a strict X. With this new regime my mind was consumed by only numbers and food, I started baking obsessively and feeding high calorie foods to my family and friends as if to fill this void I had created in myself. By this point my weight had dropped down to X kg, not a dramatic change but suddenly it meant everything to me, my weight was my life, I stopped seeing friends and going out and took every chance I could to halve or skip meals in order to keep in line with my daily calorie goal.
The beginning of 2012 marked the start of a series of 18th birthdays I would be invited to, and I craved the compliments I was receiving about my new toned, muscular figure and comments about how little I ate. But despite the new attraction from boys and jealous comments made by girls, I still wasn't happy with the way I looked. At a new low of X kg I still couldnt see the change, I couldnt see the new bones that stuck out and the muscles that bulged instead of fat. On the outside I didnt look much different, but on the inside I was slowly torturing myself, caught up in a whirlwind of numbers, self criticism and food always food that was preventing me from ever feeling completely happy.
My body became weak both emotionally and physically. I contracted glandular fever along with various flus and viruses that prevented me from exercising, and made me even more unhappy. Without the intense amounts of exercise, I inevitably began to gain weight, slowly increasing up to X kg, a figure that made me want to cry and scream and rip out all the fat I could see so blatantly on my body, I was disgusted with myself.
I am almost 18 and I weigh X kg. I have weakened my body with self abuse and torture, and it is time to stop. I am ready to be strong again. I am ready to explore and travel and learn and live up to my own potential. I want to be happy.
I am ready to change.