Thursday, July 16, 2020

You’re so beautiful, but…

Originally posted on The Manifest-Station

Awhile ago, I was having dinner with just my dad. This is an anomaly in and of itself, but it happened. I remember that night clearly because I cried. Crying is a rarity for me; especially in front of people.

I don’t remember what brought on the statement. I don’t remember what led into it. All I remember is sitting there, across from the dad, eating some chilli, and my father spoke these words to me, “If you just did something about your weight. I don’t know what I did to deserve two daughters, two beautiful daughters – your sister and you… I don’t know what I did to deserve you. You’re both so beautiful… but if you would just lose some weight…”

Just lose some weight?

As he said this, I fought the tears and nodded my head in understanding like a good little girl. You have to understand, quick delivery is not in my father’s repertoire; I wasn’t sitting before him shamefully fighting off tears for the short amount of time it took you to read that sentence or took me to type it. And whatever he meant is not what I heard. Or maybe I heard exactly what he meant. Or maybe he didn’t even know what he meant. But all I heard was “you would be so beautiful if you lost some weight”.

I was afraid to take another bite of food during that meal.

I was already struggling with an eating disorder. I’d developed erratic eating in high school; my best friend and I would commonly walk up to the store at our lunch period and buy nothing but clodhoppers and diet Pepsi, or packages of Fudgee O cookies; three or four nights a week, I made and ate my own dinner before either parent was home from work because I had to be at my karate dojo for training at suppertime, which for me meant Kraft dinner, pizza, soup or fries. This disordered eating worsened when numbing the pain of the next chapter of my life seemed to only be possible while using food to gain a sense of control. By the time this comment was made, I was caught in a vicious cycle of binging completely on sugar then starving myself for days. Slowly my weight crept up.

My father had never commented on my weight. Home had always been a safe place for me as far as that went. I was heartbroken. I was embarrassed. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to say things that I would never say to my parents, in tones I would never dare speak to them in. I wanted to ask him if he knew how much I thought about how I looked; how those thoughts had completely overtaken my mind on an hourly basis. Or if he knew how healthily I tried to eat. Or if he knew how impossible it seemed to be to lose weight. I wanted to tell him that he was the worst kind of father, to say something like that to his daughter, who he is supposed to think is beautiful regardless. I wanted to be angry at him, but I was just ashamed that he was so disappointed in me.

I still don’t like eating in front of my father.

Erin Jay is a jack-of-all trades with seemingly endless opportunities to take on “odd jobs” including photography, writing, hair-styling, pet-sitting and tutoring. She is a soccer fanatic and Starbucks addict who could never live far from the water. Erin is the co-founder of a podcast co-host and kindness lover who aspires to become a proper adult.

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