Body Image: Navigating the Holidays
Editor's Note: We will be following Trinity on her journey through eating disorder recovery as she learns to accept herself and her body. It's our hope to shed light on what this disorder looks like from the inside, as well as to provide support for Trinity through her progress. You'll find Trinity's posts once a month.
Words by Trinity Murray
The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and as some people break out their cozy sweaters and warm spiced lattes to strategize their Secret Santa gift giving others have more chilling thoughts dancing through their heads. Christmas is a time of giving, laughter, snow days, and being surrounded by the ones we love. When your mind tells you that no outfit will look good enough on your oddly shaped body to go to Grandma’s house and that you are not allowed more than one sweet treat a week, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday.
I used to love playing in the snow with my big sister when we were younger. I remember once at our favorite aunt’s house we had recruited almost the whole family including my grandma and grandpa to build the largest igloo I have ever seen. We then continued to ride down to the barn on deconstructed cardboard boxes to brush the horses that we grew so fond of over the years before the night was over and we had to go back home. In other instances, we would layer up and spend from sun up to sun down in our backyard pretending we were pro snowboarders training for a competition or imagining that we were trapped in the North Pole. She and I would have stayed outside forever in that make believe world if we could have. When my mom would shout from the house that our soup and hot chocolate were ready, we would race back and toss our gear over heating vents to let them defrost as the savory soup and creamy cocoa warmed us from the inside out.
There came a time in my life that no amount of layering could keep me warm, and the magic of snow days melted away. The family stopped putting up a Christmas tree and decorating the front porch with twinkling lights. The only person in my house that still cared about the beauty of the season was me, but I could not possibly decorate all by myself for long as the energy I had was diminishing just as fast as my family’s spirits. Soup and hot chocolate no longer had a positive impact, and being offered a cookie was a punishment rather than a treat. Everything was looked at in terms of calories. Before Christmas break at school, almost every class threw a party with cookies and cupcakes made by other students and their families. I could not tell you how delicious those were, but I can say how fast my heart raced listening to everyone around me slurping their soda and chomping or crunching their share of the goodies. Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning meant stocking snacks and incredible anxiety towards the events to follow. Going to Grandma’s meant a big meal and dessert which translated to extra restriction a week prior to the gathering. Parties at friends’ houses meant more sweets and fake happiness, and it took every ounce of energy to remain calm and draw no attention to my fear of food.
What has changed in the past few years for me around the holidays is that I am now a gatherer in a family full of hunters. Being the only vegan at family functions can at times be awkward and difficult, but I feel less stress than before now because I don’t have the fear of losing control around sweets and large meals since so much of those things contain non-veg ingredients. I make my own dishes to bring along which helps tremendously as knowing what exactly is going into my body puts my mind at ease. As a fashion major, you would think that I still have that preoccupation with what to wear to these family functions. However, I have come to the realization that I was not put on this planet to impress everyone…I just want to impress myself. If that can be done wearing jeans and a T-shirt, then that is just as nice. The negative thoughts are still there, of course, but my focus is aimed more at catching up with my relatives and making those around me smile instead.
Trinity is a small town girl studying Fashion Design at Kent State University holding onto the hope of becoming a fashion journalist. Though her passion is for fashion, she enjoys good conversation, great books, and lots of coffee.