My Experience with Bulimia

I was 14 when I developed bulimia.

All my life I was heavier than most girls. While they were sizes 3, 4 and 5, I was in a size 20. While they all shopped at forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, I had to shop in the women’s plus sized section at Macy’s.

By my freshman year in high school I was over 200lbs and couldn’t stand to look at myself. Sure, I was smart, nice and had a lot of friends but none of that mattered, because everywhere I went there were reminders that I wasn’t good enough; the beautiful, thin models in magazines, all the girls on TV, even my friends seemed better than I was. I felt inferior to all of them. In my eyes they were all so much more confident and prettier than I was. They could do anything and everything and everything I did just seemed wrong. I was so insecure that I doubted myself in everything I did and said.

I was just so disgusted with my body would do anything to be skinny and so I began to throw up my dinner or lunch. At first, I only did it once a week. Then, that turned into twice a week, which then turned into every day. I thought that if I only threw up one meal a day rather than every meal, it couldn’t really be considered bulimia and that made me feel better about doing it. Although I knew it wasn’t healthy, I didn’t care. Nothing mattered as long as I could be thin and pretty.

It went on like this for months. I had gotten so good at hiding it that not even my sister knew and despite us sharing a bathroom.

I had begun to lose some weight, but it wasn’t enough. So, I decided to purge two meals a day, rather just one and was pretty pleased when I lost 10 pounds. After a while my best friend found out. She tried to stop me on numerous accounts but her words just went in one ear and out the other. And eventually I just told her I stopped so she would leave me alone.

One day after school, I had just finished purging and was beginning to brush my teeth when I looked at myself in the mirror. Really looked at myself and I hated what I saw. Sure, I was thinner and my body looked better, but I had dark circles under my eyes and my teeth had become stained from all of the vomiting. I was tired and sluggish, and I just felt horrible. I hated myself more in that one moment than I did before I started purging. I may have wanted to be thin, but I didn’t want this. So, I made a vow to myself that day I would never purge my food or harm my body in any way again. And I haven’t since.

I wasn’t the only one in this situation. 15% of young women display symptoms of disordered eating habits and thoughts. Anorexia, the practice of not eating to lose weight, affects 0.5-1% of American teenagers. While Bulimia, the act of throwing up, or “purging” your food to lose weight, affects nearly 2% of American teenagers. Eating disorders like these are most common in females from 15-25 years of age, sometimes even younger.

Although it is most common in girls, they aren’t the only ones that can develop eating disorders. Older women and men can develop them for a number of reasons. Some people do it because they have stress filled lives and high expectations placed on them. While others have low self esteem, a need for control or have experienced traumatic events that also act as a trigger.

Whatever the cause, a few things are certain about eating disorders: they are not just a ‘teenage phase’; they do not develop as a result of rebellion or defiance; and they are not something that sufferers can just snap out of. Bulimia is something I still struggle with everyday. While I do not purge anymore, I’ll admit that from time to time I still get the urge to. But I remind myself  that there are different body types out there and that I shouldn’t base mine on my roommates or a girl in a magazine, because that’s their body not mine; that no one’s opinion of my body matters but mine and mine alone. I remind myself that I have the power and intelligence to do anything I want and that the world isn’t going to end if I eat french fries. I am beautiful just the way I am and I wouldn’t change myself for anything or anyone.


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