Martine Anderson on The End of Summer, Body Image, and Growth
If you’re like me, you probably think that summer is the best season of the year. Not only is it a warm, freeing time filled with long nights, outdoor activities and festivals; but my birthday is also in July, which gives me another reason to love the season! Summer is a time when everyone seems to be happy, even though we all have our own struggles. And although those struggles don’t just magically disappear, it frees up space to think and grow outside of them.
Of course, there is a negative side to summer. For many, it’s warm and we tend to wear less. With the constant pressure from social media, it can be hard to show off our bodies that so many of us feel so insecure about. And I totally get that. This summer has been hard for me in that way, too.
Having recently physically recovered (PROPERLY) from a severe eating disorder, and constantly recovering mentally, my body dysmorphia has been showing up at the worst of times. The top that looked so bomb on me in the fitting room didn’t seem to do the job at the beach, so going to the beach suddenly didn’t feel like such a good idea after all. Which is silly! I mean, I deserve a good day at the beach just as much as everyone else! And on top of that, I don’t have any friends here. So that beach day was, well, by myself – which is totally fine! I mean, being comfortable alone is so important. However, those intense thoughts are harder to block out when you are alone, surrounded by people who are not.
After recovering from my eating disorder, a new, evil pattern started to evolve. I had gained back the weight and felt terrible about it. So I decided to start working out and eating super healthy to “get leaner,” knowing perfectly well that was a lie. I was trying to find an excuse to fall back into my old habits, which was hard because I didn’t have what my eating disorder would call “discipline” (which by the way, was not discipline– it was punishment).
So, I ate when I felt sad, anxious, worried or just bored! I didn’t listen to my body at all. It was this constant cycle of trying to get better, but also trying to hold on to the eating disorder, and it just ended with me eating so much at the wrong times. I ate because I thought I had too, not because I was hungry. And when I was hungry, I did not eat. Crazy, right?
When exam season was coming to an end and summer was approaching, I was so depressed. I hated university, and I had decided to drop out after I finished my second semester. I finished my exams; one went well, and the other one … not so much. But it was over, and I was ready to take control of my life, by not letting my bad patterns continue and finally ignore my eating disorder for good!
Even though an eating disorder will always be there, I wanted to have the control of myself. I can choose how much I want it to control me, but the longer I ignore that voice, the smaller it will get. I finished exam season and went home. Summer had began! And man oh man, it was the beginning of something wonderful, but also something extremely difficult and painful.
This summer has been about growth for me; feeling an intense shapeshifting within me, while evolving as a person and realizing what I am meant to do! It has also been hard in a number of ways. I’ve been a depressed bean for a long, long time. I’ve lost friends as I’ve grown. Some friendships are hard to lose, while others are just super necessary (cutting out toxic people will change your life! Don’t hesitate, dump them!).
I have gotten back into a good habit of intuitively eating and listening to my body, which is hard. I always see these beauty gurus and bloggers talking about intuitive eating, but also portraying diets that don’t seem intuitive at all? I feel as if it’s just a trend to say that you listen to your body. I might be wrong about that, but a lot of it just triggered me. Which, then again, is my problem and not theirs. Summer for me is just filled with triggers, and I have had to force myself to ignore them and get on with my life! I mean, honestly, life is so short. I just turned 20!!!! I can’t compare myself to anyone. I just need to do me.
So, I did.
I can finally say I do not care what anyone says or feels about me anymore. I cut out all the negative energy in my life, including my own negative energy. I opened my eyes to a more positive mindset and took charge of what can be a wonderful life, by just deciding it can be one!
Summer to me can be a number of things, but deciding that those things can be positive; that’s the magic of it! July was the shift in my life, and even though it has been filled with soul food and some fluctuating in weight, I am happy where I am. I feel calm about where I am, and I don’t stress about my body anymore. I will have times where it looks super fit, times where it looks a little lazy and times where it’s just doing it’s thing! I mean, come on, our bodies are so much more than our appearance. I feel good, and that is more important to me than looking good. Feeling good breeds confidence, and confidence is what attracts people to you. So embrace yourself! It’s honestly life changing.
Now that it is all coming to an end, I can feel the anxiety bottling up. I am not a fan of winter, and the feeling of being free and warm and going swimming almost being over for another year scares me! (I know this isn’t relatable to everyone – if you live in a warm, tropical place you are lucky! Norway is just not like that).
If you gained any weight this summer, or lost any weight, do not be frightened! It Is actually normal. Your pants might not sit the way they used to, but that is okay! There is no need to freak out. You are beautiful whether those zippers zip or not! Just think about all that food you’ve indulged in, how delicious it all was! I can’t even begin to count all the vegan magnums I have consumed, but man, they were tasty!
Summer is ending, but your life does not need to! Find a balance for yourself, create a habit that you can maintain, nourish your beautiful body so that it will reward you with energy and do! not! stress! Throw out the scale, buy some new pants, and get going with your life! You still have time to put on a bikini and go out for a swim in the lake or at the beach, or bathe in the sun; so go do that! And have an amazing rest of your summer!
Thank you for reading.