It started in about 8th grade. Or was it 7th? Boobs. And hips. The thing is, I was always so petite. The shortest in my class, the shortest in my grade, the smallest feet, and tiny little clothes. But that thing called puberty hit and let's just say that "Bice" and "bosom" both start with the letter "B".
Near the end of my 8th grade year, I spent a month touring the country with my father's performing group. This was an experience I got to have nearly every year of my childhood and adolescence. It was incredible. However, it meant I was sitting on a bus everyday for hours on end. It meant host families were feeding me. Combine that with the onset of puberty, the Bice bosom genes, and not being in tune with my personal nutritional and dietary needs, and you have yourself a recipe for a teenage weight-gain/ body image disaster.
Have I blogged about this before? I know I've alluded to it. Let's carry on with the story anyhow.
I returned from tour and jumped back into activities at school. The main activity for me being cheerleading. Ummm...my cheerleading skirt won't quite zip up. Drat! A few people started commenting on my figure. And bit by bit, I started seeing myself differently. I started obsessing about my size. I felt uncomfortable in my own body. And when I tell you I had beautiful friends all around me, believe me--to this day they are abnormally stunning and not your average-looking woman. How did I get into such a good-looking crowd anyhow?
Exercise became an obsession. I figured the only real way to lose weight was to not eat. How else could I do it? I started skipping meals and counting calories to the extreme. I clearly remember being in the foyer of my high school (we're in 9th grade now) and a boy named Chris Kunz offering me a tic-tac. I turned the box over and read the label: Calories-1. I turned his offer down. I was so proud of myself one day when the only food I consumed was an orange.
I got smaller. I became unfocused. I was still full of life and laughter--always the funny one at parties. But I was so obsessed with food and weight and so self-conscious I could hardly enjoy being with my friends. We were such pranksters. We still have countless home videos of all of us being absolutely ridiculous. And where am I in most of them? Hiding. We recently watched some of these gems on my girls reunion trip to Rexburg. I was astounded at how many feelings and emotions came flooding back as I watched with my friends. I had an actual physical response to what I was seeing. Similar to how I feel every May at the anniversary of Lucy's death. You think you are doing alright and then it hits you. I suddenly had feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing, and I even stopped listening to my body that weekend and binged on sugar! It was crazy.
But I digress-- As I was saying--people started commented on how good I looked, so I persisted. I still remember specific items of clothing I was so proud to fit into.
My energy levels were low, but I didn't know it...until I decided one day to eat something. If I remember right, it was a bowl of cereal. I was racing out the door to choreograph a dance for a private student (hey, I still have the same job I had in high school...not sure what that says about me) and ate it without thinking. When I got to the lesson I was amazed at how much more energy I had. I kept saying, "Wow! Food gives you energy!"
Hmmm...how can I get this incredible energy and enjoyment from food that I just experienced but still lose weight? I know, I'll make myself throw up everything I eat. I've heard of another gymnast at my school who does it and she is really thin. Let's give this a whirl. A whirl down the toilet.
Binging and purging became a way of life for me for the next few years. Did I lose any weight? No. In fact, I gained. My mind was hungry--not my body. My face became swollen and blotchy. My throat burned. But I became addicted to the behavior. The deadening of my mind as I binged, and the punishment of the body as I purged--because I wasn't good enough. I would sneak into my dad's office because there was a stash of candy bars as far as the eye could see. Binge. Purge. I still have trigger foods to this day--ice cream, french fries, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Can you see my swollen face?
I was dating a wonderful boy at the time and broke up with him because I was so ridden with issues of self-loathing. (This is not a photo of him--in case you are curious. This is my good friend Mark Wightman, who happens to be Ashley Sullenger's uncle.) I wanted to be thin. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to fit in my cheerleading uniform and look darling in my gymnastics leotard and be the smallest one on the dance company. I liked who I was on the inside--my talents and gifts, my love for people and words and adventure and music, my wonderful sense of humor. But I hated that my outward appearance didn't match. How would people see the greatness in me when I looked so...FAT?
My mom made me see a therapist. Or two or three. I started Prozac. I even took the infamous drug, Phin-Phin for a spin.(It worked.) I was never grossly overweight. I always had boys (here and there) interested in me. But I wasn't the Molly I wanted to be.
So how did I overcome this? Let's just say that me "casually" throwing out my weight in a recent blog post is so much more than a number to me. It's not a number that says, "You are skinny. You are petite. You look great in a cheerleading uniform." It is a number that says, "You respect your body. You are mature enough to know that you are so much more than your body. You listen to your body. You have educated yourself on your nutritional and spiritual needs."
But I'll get to all that good stuff next time. Will you come back and read the next part of my journey? I hope so. Maybe you've been there yourself. Or are there now. Let's talk about this because you are awesome. And you are worth it. (And you look great in that outfit you have on right now, by the way.)
I sat down to write this post today and just as I did so I got this email. Maybe its something you'd like to be a part of as well. Maybe it was a nod of approval for me to write this post.