Musings on a Piece of Spandex

I'm feeling quite uneasy right now.


I wore a bathing suit. In public.

Okay, it was my parents' backyard, and just me and, um, my parents, but I wore the damn Spandex and hated every second of it.

I was hyper-aware of every bobble and bulge, of my scars from cutting, of the way my body settled into the deckside chair. I didn't like it. Not one bit.

The irony is that my parents are not in one bit judgemental about my body or appearance. I don't think either of them is particularly pleased with my nose piercing, but it's been over a year, so they've had more than enough time to get used to it.

Being so...scantily a tankini...made me feel like I was supposed to be on display. That my teeth weren't white enough, my hair not styled enough (not that it's ever really styled), my butt not toned enough. Bathing suits have an uncanny way of making almost every woman feel inadequate. Most women's suits are not meant for the purpose of swimming. They're meant as a way to display your body. I mean really...swimming laps in a g-string? I don't think so.

And yet, I don't judge other people that way. I do the whole comparison thing, but I don't know that I judge a person's personality based on their weight. I don't think a woman, regardless of her size, should be discouraged from wearing the suit that suits her. Although old men wearing Speedos should be considered a felony and treated as such.

All day, though, ever since I stepped into that suit, I've been wanting to crawl out of my own skin. I don't feel comfortable. I feel fat.

Not "fat" as in "a substitute for some other feeling," but fat as in a real, physical feeling. Now I'm even more self-conscious about everything I'm wearing. Do these shorts give me a muffin top?

That's a daily terror of mine: the dreaded muffin top. And the round potbelly. Obviously, there are cultural cues at work here. On almost every magazine, there's advice on flat abs. You can't escape it. I remember the day when I first started becoming obsessed with my stomach- about 3 years before the start of my eating disorder. I remember what I was wearing (pink sweatpants), where I was standing (in front of my dresser, getting socks), and I remember looking down and thinking "Wow this looks so much better than other times."

Ever since then?

Thou shalt not show off one's midriff.

Thou shalt not tuck in one's shirt.

Thou shalt not wear tight pants.

No one sees it but me. That doesn't make it any less real.

It's kind of part of a constellation of OCD symptoms, this body dysmorphia. I get it. I get that the more you starve yourself, the fatter you think you really are. And that poor body image is the last thing to go in terms of ED symptoms. There is a very intellectual part of me that understands this.

Then there's the emotional part of me that really doesn't give a rat's ass.

I feel a ridiculous desire to be perfect. And how can you be perfect if you don't look right and eat right? So now that I'm no longer ultra-thin, I feel imperfect. Beyond help. For years, I thought that if I could just make everything perfect, then I would be okay, I would be at peace, I could relax. But the bar is always raised, and you never get there.

I don't want to admit that it's not possible.

Because then I would lose the opportunity to ever get rid of that horrific anxiety. That I am not good enough. I thought that if I got the right grades, the right weight, the right number of calories eaten vs. calories burned, I would be "okay."

I get that I'm okay just the way I am. But then I think: wouldn't I be more okay if I did X? And shouldn't I at least try?

I want this anxiety to go away. That is at the root of ALL of this.

In the end, it really is. I don't have a solution. Part of it is my personality, part of it might just take time. I can't anwer that right now.


mary said...

It's okay to want to look good, to wear a suit that flatters you, a color and style you like. Recovery doesn't remove your sense of style, it brings it out.
What may help is for you to FOCUS on little things you do like. You know you have them. Begin somewhere. Your eyes, your toes, anything at all. Let yourself really like this small part of yourself and then give it time. It will eventually spread to every part of you, even the scars that sadly tell your story, but tell it nonetheless.
You can SEE anxiety as a key problem. So much so that you think you own it! You don't. Let it go. Use meditation. Use your tools. Do the hoky pokey and turn yourself about. ALLOW yourself to change. Try on different attitudes and see if being spunky doesn't suit you better. I just have a hunch you can be quite spunky Carrie. Something in the eyes. Funny too!
You've wasted enough time on Ed and his opinion is not only shallow it's gruesome. He can't see the beauty in blood flowing as he prefers his followers to be weak and deteriorating! Where's the hi pro glow from that? He doesn't even want you to laugh!
Trust me that it can get better but it's up to you to choose which way you are going to think. Nourishment is your medicine but your thoughts are another form of nourishment altogether. Think well of yourself.
Are you going to take your place down here with us humans or strive for the look of oscar an award statue? Please please choose the wild and more interesting path...the one of life and interest. You'll always be unique!
LOVE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ /********

Thomas said...

Remember that "eye of the beholder" thing. Look right? Who gets to decide that? I don't find ultra-thin (or even just plain thin) very appealing. I don't think its wrong or ugly, just not my thing. Give me a nice belly, a backside with some action when it moves, and even a muffin-top, and I'm a happy fella. But its all just personal preference, not an independent value judgment.

Somebody out there is always going to think you are the hottest thing around, and others are always going to find you not worth a second look (purely in physical terms, mind you). It doesn't matter what shape/size/proportions you are.

Come join us oddly shaped folks who don't fit the "thin ideal". We have a lot of fun!

ms. em said...

anti-anxiety drugs helped me with my ocp a great deal.

not to appear like a drug pusher but i'm in full support of anything that has been created which affords my mind a little R&R.

Jeanne said...


I definitely relate. How I combat the fat feeling is to remember all the things that I've accomplished. And when that doesn't work, I cling to compliments that I've received - most recently from a fitness instructor who declared, "jeanne, you have great legs!"

You are definitely right about bathing suits being designed for looks and not for use. It's evil and wrong.

Oh, and there is an old man who lives in my complex, complete with deflated body and emphysematic cough and wears a royal blue speedo to the pool. [shudder of horror] Absolutely, a felony.

carrie said...


Okay, I like my hands. From playing piano for so long, they look kinda graceful. When I'm not dropping things... ;)

I have a friend who is recovered who said that your brain is a garden, and ED thoughts are weeds. She kept telling me to feed myself flower food, not weed food.


Well well now.

You're right- when you get right down to it, most of us are somewhat oddly shaped. And why am I going to let the equivalent of a genetic mutant tell me how to look?


Me loves drugs. They really do help should see me without them! I sound much worse online sometimes than in real life because it's all uncensored and the random frustrations come out in one big blech.

Better living through pharmaceuticals, baby. That's what it's all about.


Bathing suits really aren't designed for swimming, are they? Do you see the models ever, I don't know, swimming? With goggles? And one of those little swim cap thingys they used to make me wear at the gym because my hair was too long?

Maybe we should do a show called "America's Most Speedos." Then again, that might be too disgusting to watch.

Sarah said...

It's so easy to forget that people don't see what we see when we look in the mirror. Sunday was a "challenge" day for me and I wore a dress I bought two years ago but hadn't worn because it is body-skimming. All I could see was every lump and bump and bulge, but I got so many compliments.

I'm trying to wear clothes that don't swallow me whole or give me that lovely MC Hammer style. Some days, it's very very hard. But I'm going to keep trying. I'm tired of hiding.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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