Too many young women I think are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice I’m putting forth. It’s not like you wake up and understand this. It’s a process.
So yesterday BuzzFeed published a conversation between me and my mother, about our experiences with bulimia. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a long, long time, but because bulimia (/eating disorders/disordered eating/body image/everything/forever) is so nebulous, it seemed impossible to know where to begin. I’ve been ruminating on this for years, and even still I couldn’t have anticipated the number and meaningfulness of the responses I’ve received. Within just a half hour of its posting, four young women had sent me private messages about their own struggles with eating, especially in relation to their mothers and sisters and grandmothers. The messages are continuing today. It isn’t lost on me what a privilege it is to be able to listen to these stories, even though I feel completely unequipped to help. My suspicion (and hope) is that being heard is sometimes a relief in itself. What is evident, though, is that an entire community is desperate for an outlet, for a space to talk frankly about this, for a reprieve from “thinspiration.” It’s not a coincidence that the most common sentiment I’ve seen in the messages I’ve received has been “I wish I could talk about this with ____.” It’s silence that magnifies it, and that’s why I wanted to do this: to break the silence in my own specific, small way. So, hey, let’s talk about it.