For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be thin. Well, technically, I’ve wanted to be thin since I realised I wasn’t going to be a boy. So I guess for as long as I’ve realised I was female, I’ve wanted to be thin. I didn’t know that back then though. I couldn’t gender my own body as a child around 4-5 years old. But I knew what a boy body looked like and I knew that’s what I wanted. Flat. Straight up-and-down. No hips, no stomach, no breasts, no bum. Thin.
I hit puberty late. It was the day before my 16th birthday I started my period, just when my parents started worrying once more that there might be something wrong with my hormones, and that I might be intersex, again. I’ve been through enough blood and hormone tests to know I’m not. Everything is at ‘normal’ levels. I am XX. 100% female. God has made me this way. It is just how I was born. My fat body and my hairy face is just the way I am. How I loved to hear that as a little girl… In a world of skinny, hairless white girls and waxed, plucked brown girls. It sure made me feel special.
I hit puberty late, but it wasn’t puberty that hurt. I was an obese child, stealing food from my always-skinny sister as an infant, always taking more and more, constantly indulging in fatty, buttery carbohydrates and rich refined dairy. I ate and ate and ate. I feel like it was the only thing I knew how to do well. And in South Asian culture, it’s something you do get praised for. Food is a gift, eating well is a privilege, and cooking brings us all together. When you eat, you’re family. And I was lonely, and unhappy. Trapped in this fat brown hairy body. My fat spilled out at a young age into hips, stomach, breasts and bum, too young to have those things. But in South Asian culture, it’s something you do get praised for. Or at least, touched inappropriately at the local bazaar.
I know exactly why I started to throw up after meals now. Achieving the straight up-and-down male body I always knew I should have had. Despising the female body I grew into, it didn’t feel like mine, I didn’t want it, I think that’s why it was so easy to punish. I can’t remember when I started purging. I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped. I know I won’t get the body I want. I know it’s an impossible goal of perfection that doesn’t exist. It’s a dysmorphic view of my body. I’ll always be that fat brown hairy girl. It’s all about control; control over my fat, my food, my body and my gender. It’s about having control over my life. So, why do I feel so powerless?
I guess I’ve never had control, not really. Since seeing a dietician with my dad when I had barely reached my teenage years, it was almost like he had all the control. Controlling my diet, snatching biscuits out of my hand, forcing fruit into my mouth, my dad controlled what went into my body. He has always had control, dictating my weight. He made sure of it, weighing me every day since… Well, before I started purging that’s for sure. And he hasn’t stopped. In fact, it’s a habit I’ve picked up myself. He never asked why I lost weight, just told me ‘well done’ and ‘keep going’. He doesn’t know to what extent I went to, to ‘keep it up’ and he has no idea I chuck it up. I don’t think he’d understand, let alone care why.
I’m wondering why this has come to the forefront of my mind this month. What’s changed? My chest. I’m happy. I’m flat. Not thin, but straighter up-and-down. I notice my hips, stomach and bum a lot more. And I am punishing myself a lot more. I will always want to be thin. I think old habits die hard. Especially with the pressure for my body to look a certain way, to be gendered a certain way. But I am happy. It’s been two months. And I don’t mind that I’ll always be that fat brown hairy girl in a way. I suppose it’s normal to worry about weight…