A Letter from Recovery

Photo Credit: Christy Mckenna via Compfight cc

To everyone and everything that’s tried to define my worth:

To the magazines polluting the checkout counters: When my mum took me grocery shopping as a young girl, I would hold on to her cart with one hand and to you with the other.

I savored each glossy page, mistaking the world contained within you for reality.

As I looked at “who wore it better” and “baby bump or burger” you taught me my first lessons about my body.

You showed me that life was a competition, and to win you needed a toned tummy.

To the movies I watched in high school: Now I’m old enough to know better, but when I was sixteen I ate your cheap love stories like corner store candy.

The heroines were always exploited and reduced in your films to a skinny shell of a person.

For a while that’s who I thought I should be.

To the dieting and nutritional advertisements…Have you no sense of responsibility? Do you know that you were in the back of my mind when I restricted to a lower and lower weight?

I used your tips to make my hipbones point and my thighs shrink.

Now I can’t turn on the radio or look at a web page without you telling me how to “lose five pounds, quick!”

You’re brainwashing our entire culture.

Your message is seeping into our subconscious. When I had my eating disorder, I lost five pounds quick, then 10, then 20, then 30. You know what else I lost?

My hair, my friends, my motivation, my mind.

To my hairdresser, who said you can never be too thin, and to anyone else who complimented my eating disorder body…

You’ve grown up like me, believing that your body matters more than your mind.

Maybe you also stay up late at night looking in the mirror, pushing and pinching and wishing. I know it’s not your fault but as you licked your lips and looked at my thighs I was dying inside.

I remember everything you’ve said to me.

“You’re so thin, you look great!”

“Oh my god, I wish I had your legs!”

“Your body is amazing, what’s your secret?”

My secret is that I spent 30 minutes in front of the fridge trying to decide on an apple or half a slice of bread for lunch.

To my parents, to my teachers, to my therapists, to anyone who ever tried to tell me that I deserve more than my eating disorder… I’m sorry I didn’t listen for so long.

I couldn’t hear you over the noise.


Elizabeth Harvey

Elizabeth Harvey attends McGill University in Montreal. She studies Microbiology and Immunology and hopes to become a doctor one day. In the meantime, she works on cultivating her passion for old movies, spending time with loved ones, and (of course) recovery.

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