1 August 2014

Letting go of "skinny"

I am a strong believer in drawing positive lessons from every experience. After my post back in March, in which I talked about my own struggle with an eating disorder, the response has been incredible and I am now aware that this blog has reached other people who struggle with similar issues. Therefore I do want to use some of my posts to touch on  this topic; just as I first began this blog two years ago, to raise diabetes awareness and connect with other diabetics, I hope that doing recovery-related posts can possibly help others to - and help myself along the way! I wrote this last week, and quite wanted to share before I go to the other side of the world; a place where the words "let it go" will be my mantra - Disney often get it just right. 

Skinny. Or, as Oxford dictionary synonymised it, "unattractively thin". Yet in modern society it does not always hold negative connotations. On the contrary, "you're so skinny" can often be delivered as a compliment, in media, films, and everyday life. I will never forget how, when I was at a very unhealthy weight around 20 months ago, someone saw me and went "oh my goodness Sophie you look incredible, you're so skinny!" At university, if I was ever complimented on my appearance it was more often than not in reference to my body - not my face, my smile, my outfit even. Things that reflect me far more than any body shape. 

I say all this - I am as culpable as anyone. After all, "skinny" played a central role in my life far more than it may for most. Body preoccupations were dominant. I've held on to "skinny" - and the result is a life quite lacking in substance. 

This thought stemmed from a quite random little event, that being getting iced coffee last weekend. Fact: I can’t remember the last time I bought a coffee and didn’t ask for skimmed milk. Until last weekend. We had finished a busy morning of last minute shopping supplies, the weather was boiling, mum announced "let's get iced coffee!" The Starbucks queue was huge, then mum noticed that next door an independent coffee shop in Bath, Society Cafe, had opened a new branch! It was the cutest shop. I have a penchant for pretty things, and the design of this place was quite retro, a bike hung on the wall and of course that coffee smell… amazing! We walked in, mum asked if they did iced coffee to go… Yes! This is quite a rarity for independent coffee shops, so exciting news for us.

When my mum asked me if I wanted one, it was a simple question of saying yes. A simple matter of taking out that ‘s’ word from my order - or, essentially, not interfering with my order as mum asked for them.  That simple task of ignoring the red topped bottle as the barista picked up the green…. Speaking of, isn’t the green traffic light the “coveted” symbol on food labels? Theoretically, we should be running away from that red top! The coffee was predictably lovely - you definitely can tell the difference from chain coffee, as much as I love my Starbucks. 

Whittards - can't compromise coffee!
Ordering a "skinny latte" is something I have done for years now. It is one of those things that, even with recovery, I never changed. Unlike a surprising number of people, I legitimately love the taste of coffee - so I liked the fact ordering it 'skinny' means it is often stronger! But this summer a certain blue top has appeared in our house for the first time ever, and i've come accustomed to having a daily iced latte - it's nice! Quite a revelation to me too - 'going skimmed' was part of a life I don't want to hold onto. I think, even in recovery, it's so easy to appease. It's a word I use often, and something I am trying to own up to myself a bit more - the small things. The socially acceptable therefore "individually acceptable" things. However, are the constructive for me? 

The best combination
The reality is, I do not need to order a “skinny” anything. The taste isn't that different for the connotations of that word. I see now that, everytime I said that 's' word, it was reinforcing something. Reinforcing an idea that "skinny is good". I hate the word; really hate it! I am a bit averse to giving compliments wholly body related as is, but I personally see no appeal in that word. Why is it so desirable? What is a life where your biggest achievement is eating a salad? It's all Kim Kardashian seems to think about - there is more to it! Well, at least in my eyes there should be. 

So last week I let go. I drank this, and it was lovely. Tomorrow my pre-flight starbucks iced latte will not come "skinny", because I don't want a life that is skimmed down? This isn't just the case for people in recovery; it is about a simple question of personal choice, but making sure it is for your own happiness in the long run. The grass can be, quite literally, greener on the other side. If you learn to let it go. 


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