Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Battle...

I've been debating if I wanted to post this or not. I've literally gone back and forth, even erasing what I had written and starting a What I'm Loving post (like I do most Wednesdays). Okay, here I go. There's no turning back now. 

If you have seen the news (or been on any social media page today) you have probably heard the comments from the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO. If you haven't, click here for the article. **Disclaimer: Randomness With Rachel is not responsible for the Abercrombie and Fitch advertising seen in this article. Thank you.**

A friend of mine posted that article last night on Facebook. At first I was hoping I was just reading an article on a spoof website (like The Onion). I kept thinking, surely no one would actually say such things. I kept thinking, surely a COMPANY CEO wouldn't say these things. But alas, the words were said and he obviously meant them, he was not "misquoted". 
Now, I have never shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch. For starters, I couldn't afford it. Back in my younger days (meaning high school and college), I shopped Foley's (before Macy's bought them out) and at County Seat (anyone else remember that store). They were "the poor man's" version of The Gap. Evidently that didn't work out too well for them because they went bankrupt in 1999. So sad, I could get like five tank tops for $25 there.  
This is seriously the ONLY picture I could find of this store online. May it R.I.P. 
Anyways, back to A&F. Another reason I didn't shop there- I didn't particularly like their clothes (no offense to any of you who wear or have worn Abercrombie & Fitch). I guess according to the CEO, I wasn't a cool kid in high school. Okay, that's probably true. I did dress funny, had out-of-control bangs and eyebrows like Brooke Shields (don't judge). But that's a post for another day. For those not familiar with Abercrombie & Fitch, their target market ranges from high school to college-aged kids (and also includes those people who can't let go and admit they are no longer young enough to wear these styles of clothes- see any picture of the 68-year old A&F CEO). 

I have tried not to let this guy's comments affect me as much as they have, but I can't help it. I hate that we live in a world where we are told that "beautiful" means wearing a size 0. Oh, for the record, Abercrombie Fitch labels anything over a size 10 as "fat". I went to their website, there are no jeans over size 10 available. I hate that young girls who are already struggling with the "joys" of being a teenager and all the "fun" stuff that brings are being told if they are bigger than a size 10 they are "fat", and, to quote Mr. CEO, "not good looking or cool". (Author's note: research shows that over 67% of America's "purchasing population" is a size 14 or bigger)

You can tell a young girl all day long to be happy with how she looks and that everyone is beautiful, then you have comments like this from a well-known company saying the complete opposite. Maybe you think I'm over-reacting. Maybe you think I'm being a little too sensitive to this, but I firmly believe comments like these can lead to eating disorders in young girls. That may not be something that bothers you, but it bothers me. And for personal reasons. 

I have debated for a long time if I wanted to talk about this on my blog or not. I've been known to "over share" on a lot of topics, but this is one topic I haven't talked about. It's not really a "deep dark secret", although I'm sure there are going to be some people who read this who were unaware. In 2001, at the age of 23, I was medically diagnosed as being anorexic. I'm 5'8, and at one point weighed about 105 pounds. 

When people hear that someone is anorexic, they immediately think that person thinks they are fat. That's not completely true. For me anorexia was more about control. The one thing you (almost) always have control over is when and what you eat. Back then, my life had gotten so complicated and busy. I was a sports editor of a newspaper and was working sometimes 50-60 hours a week (this was between the ages of 21-23). There would be days I would leave my house at 8 am and not return until sometimes one in the morning. I even slept on the floor of my office at times because I felt I could get more sleep there than driving all the way home and returning the next day. 

Now, I didn't wake up one day and say "hey, let's stop eating." It happened gradually. A missed meal here and there. I honestly didn't even know I was doing it. People laughed when I would tell them that I forgot to eat. But I did. My job consumed me. I would be "on the go" so much that stopping for food wouldn't be an option. I was also stressed out a lot. Some people go on eating binges when they are stressed. I'm the opposite- I can't eat when I'm stressed. I wish I could say I woke up one day and realized this was going on, but it took someone bringing it to my attention before I realized I needed help. The guy I was dating at the time brought it up one day. He had picked me up from work to go to lunch. I made a comment that I wasn't very hungry. He asked me when the last time I ate was- I couldn't remember. He said the fact I couldn't remember when I ate last was upsetting. That is when he told me he was very concerned. He said a few people noticed how thin I was getting and they were worried. He told me I needed to get help. That afternoon I scheduled an appointment to see a doctor. He actually went with me the next day to the doctor's office so I wasn't there alone. 

After half a day of tests and blood work, the doctor informed me I was suffering from acute anorexia nervosa. After some questions from a psychologist, and more tests, it was determined my job was the main source of my problem. Now, I loved my job, despite the long hours (and issues I had with the managing editor), I loved to write, especially about sports. I won't forget the look on the doctor's face when she told me if I didn't quit my job and change my lifestyle, I would probably be dead within a year or so- she was worried my body would literally eat away at itself. Within three weeks of being diagnosed, I quit my job. It's not like my health magically improved right away. BUT, I had great support from friends and family who helped me each step of the way. 

One of the hardest things for me after all of this was gaining weight. I was 23 and had never weighed more than 115 pounds. In my head, that was "normal" (despite what all weigh charts were telling me someone of my height should weigh). I told myself if I started weighing more than 120 pounds, I was fat. Anorexia messes with your mind like that (regardless of how you ended up with it). BUT, I'm happy to report that I'm at a healthy weight right now in my life. :)

I know that eating disorders are more common than people realize (or maybe want to realize). So many girls (and I'm sure guys) struggle with them. And not just teenagers, I'm sure adults out there struggle with it too. I'm not sure why I decided to post this today. Yes, the comments from that CEO made me mad (and upset). Maybe that triggered something. And I know I kinda rambled and this probably didn't flow as nicely as it should have, but I wanted to say it. Believe me, it wasn't easy to write. Something was telling me it needed to be out there. Maybe someone out there who reads my blog is struggling with an eating disorder and needs help. Maybe someone retweeted my blog link on Twitter and this is the first time you are reading my blog. Whoever you are, wherever you are, please get help. Ask a friend for help. Heck, ask me. I'll be happy to do what I can. I'm not going to lie and say it's an easy battle to fight, but it's a battle that can be won.

XOXO!

13 comments:

  1. You're such an amazing person. Love reading your blogs and that you share from your heart.

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  2. Thank you for sharing, Rach.

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  3. I have to say first that I adore you. Second, as someone who has suffered from Bulimia & Compulsive Eating and spent about 35 years hating herself I have to say THANK YOU! The hardest blogs I have ever written had to do with my eating disorders. I have known for a long time that you didn't just understand me, you knew from experience. You are fiercely protective of your friends and you have always supported me and given me hugs and told me I am beautiful even when I felt ugly. You are a special, special person and I thank God, twitter, the Texas Rangers and Taco Bueno for helping me find one of my best friends...who is one of the strongest women I have ever known!

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  4. Shoutout to High School Rachel's eyebrows!

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  5. Wow. We are so much alike. How did we not meet earlier in life? I was never medically diagnosed with anorexia, but I do believe it's a constant battle for me. And, like you said, it's not completely about weight, it's about control. When I'm stressed and upset about things (like lately), I lose my appetite. And so I don't eat. It's my way of controlling some part of my life, I guess. Sometimes, when I catch myself reverting to this stress-relief mechanism, I make myself eat something. Other times, I might go a few days without a legit meal. Thanks for posting this. It is way more common than people think.

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  6. Found this link on twitter through someone I follow and I wasn't aware of this. Thank you for making me aware and thanks for putting your heart into this post.

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  7. You are very brave for sharing this but that doesn't surprise me at all b/c you've always been brave and honest on your blog.

    I'm surprised to hear about how your anorexia developed as it is not the "norm" as most people are more focused on wanting to be thin and not just too busy/too stressed to eat. So I find this very interesting and I'm glad you shared - it is good to be aware of these things so you can recognize it in a friend or loved one.

    So glad you are happy and healthy now! And you look great too!!

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  8. Love you girly! Way to be strong and listen to the Spirit and share!

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing. When I was in high school I was a size 5/7 and all my friends were a size 0. It was hard. I never had an eating disorder but there have been times I was headed in that direction. I haven't heard about the A&F thing until I read your post. It really pissed me off. It's disgusting.

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  10. I had no idea! I'm so proud of you for putting this out there in blog-land. When I read his comments yesterday, I was beyond disturbed. What a seriously horrible thing to say to young people who are already struggling to feel "normal." I was disgusted.

    But I'm so proud of you for overcoming anorexia! And of course, you look beautiful! :)

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  11. Bless you, Rachel, for sharing this. And I'm so glad you were able to agree to see a doctor. It is no wonder in this society that puts so much pressure on young people, that many (and also many much older) suffer from food disorders.

    And we ought to boycott that company (although I've never bought anything there - and now I know why - because I just wasn't cool enough to appreciate their products. What a marketing tool. Encouraging young people to become brand snobs!) Actually, it was a disgusting comment made by the CEO and people should stay away from there in droves because of it!

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  12. Such an amazing post and such a personal thing to share. I don't think people realize how common it really is and how devestating it can be thank you so much for posting!

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