Topic Tuesday: Body Image

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“Finding My Body” (By: Mackenzie Fox)

I have two tattoos that I get questions about from time to time. One of them is on my wrist and it simply reads “Be Kind”. I’m always happy to explain that having it tattooed there is to serve as a constant reminder to be nice to myself. When I was in therapy, my therapist (God bless her, my therapist is an angel) would always ask me why I was being so hard on myself. She was spot on. I was (and still have my days) where I’m really hard on myself. I think that pushing yourself to do well is good. Challenge yourself. Strive for your best. But sometimes I would take that to the extreme. I was more likely to punish myself for not being perfect than reward myself for a job well done. My “Be Kind” tattoo is there for me to check in with myself. Am I worrying too much about something? Am I setting a crazy unattainable goal? Am I being too hard on me? I love having it there and I love telling people about it when they ask.

My other tattoo is on my leg and it’s the National Eating Disorder Association symbol. If people see it, they typically ask me about it. Once again, I’m happy to share my story. But sometimes I get one particular response that gives me mixed emotions. “You don’t look like someone who has an eating disorder.”

Now, most of the time I know that people don’t mean to be hurtful with that statement (but it can be hurtful, so please don’t let anyone say things like this!). I know what they mean. They mean, “Mackenzie, you don’t look like the perceived image of what I imagine as an eating disorder.” I don’t look like the images that the media puts out there about eating disorders. But really, we (those battling eating disorders) come in all shapes, sizes, gender, ages, races, etc. We are all different and all affected by eating disorders in different ways.

Figuring out my body beyond an eating disorder has been an absolute mountain to climb. Some of that comes from the way I figured out I had an eating disorder in the beginning. I was a girl who never really felt comfortable in her body and then all of a sudden I had people complimenting me all the time about what a good job I was doing losing weight, how beautiful I looked, how proud they were that I was going to the gym. When I was at my best physically, I was absolutely at my worst mentally. And then the physical started to decline as well. I went from a powerlifter who loved what she was doing to someone who was having a panic attack if they couldn’t spend hours on end at the gym 6 or 7 days a week. Consuming just enough food to get out of bed. But it took my friends and family a long time to recognize that. And not because they don’t care, because they care a lot. It was just from the outside, I looked like I was doing a really positive thing.

During and after treatment, my body has changed a lot. I don’t obsess about going to the gym all the time anymore. I go when I feel like it and I make sure to check in to see how I feel. Some mornings I sleep in. Some days I go but might not give it 100%. It’s all ok. But handling the way that my body has changed and continues to is a big hang up sometimes. Some days it’s hard to block out every ad on television or social media telling you “this is the perfect body” or “6 ways to shed pounds!”, it’s hard to not be consumed by it. The best way that I’ve found to stay on track is to remind myself how much I love myself. I have to love me and my body the way it is. This is the only body I have and I must cherish it.

About the Author

Mackenzie Fox is a Nashville native who is happy to share her stories of her eating disorder and recovery in hopes that she can help others. She spends her days weight lifting, mentoring high school students as they prepare for college and spending time with her two cats, Tonks and Maleficent. She is a total cat lady and goof ball who wants to show people that there is absolutely an amazing life after an eating disorder.