January 3, 2011 | Featured 2, Mr Lady, Wednesday 2

Body Image Not Bought and Paid For

{by Terra from Raising Zoeyjane}

Twenty. That’s the number of years I was anorexic for. Twenty-one: The smallest my adult waist ever shrunk down to. Two Thousand and Four: The year I got breast implants, thinking that if I felt more proportionate, I’d have a more positive self-regard. 87: The weight I got down to, ten months post-partum. Eight: The number of miscarriages I’ve had, likely owing to a hormone issue brought about by the eating disorder.  width=100: The number of Cheerios I would allow myself in a day, alongside an apple and a cup of hot chocolate, when I was fifteen. Two: years as a part-time model, during the grunge/heroin-chic period. While on heroin and cocaine. Thirteen: The number of workouts I was doing a week, at twenty and twenty-one. 1000: How many sit-ups I had to do each day, or I was a lazy failure. Four: suicide attempts. One: Year sober, on November 16th.

I sought out an eating disorder at seven years old because I was a chubby kid who got picked on for it, who came from an abusive home, with a single father who minimized me ‘to keep me from becoming egotistical’ and an absent mother. I wanted to disappear, while also wanting to be able to have control over just one thing in my life. I understood the ideology and the permanence of anorexia, and I read hundreds of case studies before I started to restrict, eventually adding over-exercise, vomiting, laxative abuse, amenorrhea, multiple esophageal infections and a prolapsed colon to my resume.

When sex discovered me, it edited the mantra I’d always repeated, ’You are ugly and stupid and fat. No one can stand to be around you’, and made it, ‘You are not too ugly, stupid or fat. Men will want to be around you for sex. This is all you’re worth, so don’t fuck it up.’ This was my law for over a decade.

When a friend in the Vancouver social media community asked me to participate in a date auction she was organizing to raise funds for a writers’ society, you could say I spit-taked. I tried to back my way out of it, before I’d ever agreed to do it. I was positive that she was delusional and I would ruin the whole event, if not simply embarrass myself by drawing in the minimum bid and listless looks from a crowd.

I’d been practicing for years to hide myself, whether with an imaginary wall, or a literal one made of scrubby clothes and hair, no makeup and ragged fingernails. You didn’t see me, generally, unless I’d decided that I wanted to be seen.

This auction was a challenge to that. I didn’t volunteer, I was asked, so I would be on display, felt as if I needed to measure up to some appearance-based ideal, and it wasn’t on my own terms. I agreed to do it, because I’m a pushover who is more concerned with disappointing people than looking like a fool, but I was anxious and considered backing out, or just not showing up, several times.

The day of the auction came and I had a friend do my makeup and hair for me. She went way more overboard than I would have, getting really excited about the event and trying to sculpt me into what she considered a cultured lady (and what I saw as a street-walker). I was incredibly uncomfortable, and when she picked up my camera to snap this photo, I can honestly say that it was the saddest and angriest I’ve ever felt. I was sad because I couldn’t appreciate how she had made me look. How I’d come from disheveled to coiffed and sultry; mad because I couldn’t make myself smile for the camera, or even look at it, and she was harassing me to. So this is the shot she got.

Walking down the street, I felt like everyone was staring at me, judging me, thinking that I was poorly imitating a woman with class and style. When I got to the event, that feeling magnified and I quickly put away two glasses of wine, though I detest wine, to compensate. Eventually, it was my time to be measured and my worth assessed. My assigned date was a certificate to a popular local pub, so I figured, worst case, I’d break even.

In the end and of course to my surprise, I earned the highest bids in the event. Wouldn’t it be the nicest end to this post if I said that it taught me something about my self-reflection being off, or how enjoying myself was more important than feeding the dimorphic thinking I’ve had for two decades, or that the event really showed me that someone was willing to spend $250 just to talk with me for an hour and that meant so much more than sex appeal or waist circumference? It would, but I’m not that girl.

It took me another year and a half after the auction, after I went on the date – during which my companion complimented me on my attractiveness, writing ability and intelligence and I covered my face in horror and discomfort – and after which, I rarely spoke to him again, to literally wake up one morning, look in the mirror at a particularly flattering angle and think ‘Damn, I’ve had it all wrong, forever.

To realize that even if I didn’t see something in the mirror that I liked, others didn’t see what I did – so maybe I was the one not seeing properly.

To see that my body wasn’t a conduit for others’ self-esteem or happiness.

To understand that I was lucky for the body I have: that it’s generally without sickness, it’s fairly small and idyllic, it allowed me to give birth to my daughter, and it’s allowed me to experience pleasure, from the satisfaction of a really good slice of cheesecake, to giving and receiving massage, to orgasm.

Thousands of dollars in drugs and alcohol didn’t give me self-esteem, and modeling tore down what little I’d had. Buying breasts gave me really great breasts, but I was too wrapped up with self-loathing to take them out for a spin, so to speak. Diets, starvation, binges, purges, exercise… none of those things had any lasting positive impact on my body image. Having my company bid on and paid for didn’t either, even if it did earn more than the other dates.

What did? Waking up.

See the original post on Blogger Body Calendar.
Terra keeps a personal blog, and contributes to MamaPop, Everything Mom and No More Muffin Top.
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Comments Closed

mauricette11:13 January 3, 2011

Wow! Wow! Wow! Beautiful story of strength & so well written. God bless you.

11:14 January 3, 2011

Beautiful post.

Simply, perfect.

Mr Lady
12:22 January 3, 2011

Terra, thank you so much for letting us publish this post. The very best part of knowing you all these years has been watching your evolution. You inspire me every day to see things differently, to think about them in new ways, to embrace myself and get on with living my life fully.

Scary Mommy12:23 January 3, 2011

What a spectacular post. I remember looking at that photo on the Flickr site and thinking “I’d kill to have a body like that.” I had no idea…

Pam Dillon12:29 January 3, 2011

Your story is a Ten+. Thanks for sharing.

Burgh Baby12:36 January 3, 2011

Absolutely gorgeous. You. And the post.
Burgh Baby recently posted..Not Exactly a Performance Review

Tracey12:44 January 3, 2011

What a wonderfully written, gut wrenching, soul exposing piece. A great reminder that change must come from within. If we don’t believe it, it doesn’t matter what else happens.
Tracey recently posted..The “Nothing New” Christmas Exchange – A Postlude

AmazingGreis14:02 January 3, 2011

Great post! Thank you for sharing!
AmazingGreis recently posted..Good bye 2010- Hello 2011…

Zoeyjane15:41 January 3, 2011

Thank you. I’m honoured to be here, and to read your comments.

Mr. Lady, inspiration is in the eye of the beholder. You know I feel pretty much exactly the same.
Zoeyjane recently posted..She was happy enough in her L-Word Coma and then he made her a mix tape

16:13 January 3, 2011

Whoa. This post just illuminates so much for me. Not just about you, or women with image issues, but about self worth, no matter what we decide we should pin it upon. This was raw and I loved it.
BusyDad recently posted..My Middle Name

Dawn16:30 January 3, 2011

I think you are lovely. And it has nothing to do with the bought and paid for totally hot bewbs.

Tracey Rossignol17:35 January 3, 2011

RT @redneckmommy: EXCELLENT. RT @mrlady: One of my very favorite bloggers @Zoeyjane on front page of @StoryBleed today. http://bit.ly/fpxgOQ

Gina17:57 January 3, 2011

thank you so much for sharing, I’m so glad you woke up!

Emily18:27 January 3, 2011

Very poignant post–a great reminder for all of us. I too am glad you woke up. Thank you for sharing.
Emily recently posted..Video blog 1- The one about shoveling snow

deb19:42 January 3, 2011

Can I say that I’m still sorry you had to go through all of that.
Your honesty is inspiring and I can only imagine how amazing you are as a mother.

rlbates20:06 January 3, 2011

Interesting perspective >>> Changing Your Body Image | Story Bleed Magazine http://t.co/U86P79R

Melissa Travis20:12 January 3, 2011

body hate is body hate fat or thin RT @rlbates: Interesting perspective Changing Your Body Image | Story Bleed Magazine http://bit.ly/hqlxbo

Terra (aka Zoeyjane)20:43 January 3, 2011

SO honoured to be on @storybleed http://bit.ly/fpxgOQ

Bill Mayor22:08 January 3, 2011

Changing Your Body Image | Story Bleed Magazine: … feeding the dimorphic thinking I've had for two decades, or… http://bit.ly/f5VXLq

Jane Devin23:00 January 3, 2011

My friend @zoeyjane wrote this-I hope one day she tells the waking up part of the story: http://storybleed.com/2011/01/body-image-zoeyjane/

Tim Sogeshirts -Dave23:10 January 3, 2011

RT @janedevin: My friend @zoeyjane wrote this-I hope one day she tells the waking up part of the story: http://storybleed.com/2011/01/bo

Bitchin' Amy07:43 January 4, 2011

The intensity of your writing and how easily you draw a reader in never fails to catch me off-guard, Terra. I love you and your style and it makes me so happy that you are on this road to accepting just how gifted and amazing you really are.
Bitchin’ Amy recently posted..It’s a Boys- Boys- Boys’ London Town

PrincessJenn08:32 January 4, 2011

You are so amazing and inspiring
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Loukia09:47 January 4, 2011

Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. What a touching post. You’re beautiful.

Brittany at Mommy Words10:46 January 4, 2011

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is quite a journey you have been on and I’m so glad that you have come so far and are willing to put it out there for us to learn from. You are a beautiful woman and I too am glad you woke up! Change is hard but so worth it.
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[...] post I wrote for the Blogger Body Calendar site was published on Story Bleed yesterday. I would be understating it to say that I feel lucky to have been asked to guest-post for [...]

Amy Windsor12:48 January 4, 2011

Wow. Just wow. Amazing words on self image from @zoeyjane on @storybleed http://bit.ly/g9iF5j

Scary Mommy12:54 January 4, 2011

Agreed. RT @theBitchinWife Wow. Just wow. Amazing words on self image from @zoeyjane on @storybleed http://bit.ly/g9iF5j

pamela14:19 January 4, 2011

You’re amazing, Terra. Thank you for sharing, <3

patty19:56 January 30, 2011

i’m sorry that you’ve had to live feeling these things… but i’m so glad you’ve realized you were wrong. what a raw account of emotional growth and self-acceptance-thank-you for sharing.
patty recently posted..bliss full

08:57 July 7, 2011

Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart with us, you’re beautiful!

Adeline Patton10:12 December 14, 2011

You’re beautiful. Great post!
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