For a long time I struggled with bulimia and body image issues. Binging and purging were, for a number of years, a part of my normal routine. I would spend hours in front of the mirror examining every single part of my body, pinching at my skin until it was red and marked, thinking about how much damage it would do to just get the kitchen scissors and snip off the bits I hated. I would shut myself in my room stuffing myself, in a manic half-conscious frenzy, on anything I could get my hands on until I couldn’t move and then drag myself into the bathroom in a desperate attempt to undo everything I’d just done. Ctrl Z.
I’m in recovery now and have been for a few years but I still struggle with the way my body looks. I’m definitely still guilty of spending huge amounts of time in the gym and exercising excessively throughout the week living in denial that I’m just being ‘super healthy’, even if my eating habits and mindset are much better.
In our picture perfect social media driven society, like others, I feel a lot of pressure to look perfect. Whatever “perfect” means. I’m a huge advocate of body positivity and self love, even though I feel like a hypocrite most of the time. This post, however, isn’t about my issues. It’s about how R’s confession has impacted my current mindset.
You’d think having a partner who gets turned on by stuffing and gorging and by the size of his body would be detrimental to my mental health. You might also think that having a partner who prefers both mutual gaining and a body contrast in our relationship would put a sense of pressure on me to feel the need to gain weight at the same rate or lose weight to fulfil the body contrast desire.
This is surprisingly not the case. First and foremost, R is incredibly reassuring and supportive. He made it abundantly clear when he told me he was a feedee that he had no expectation of me whatsoever to lose or gain weight. He also acknowledged my history with eating disorders and was sensitive when discussing the topic of weight gain etc. We both have a “my body my choice” attitude and have a huge amount of respect for each other, particularly when it comes to appearance and health and wellbeing.
Secondly, and kind of remarkably, I feel less pressure now to look and be “perfect” than I did in the 3 1/2 years prior to his confession. His extraordinary honesty in telling me his preferences has cemented our relationship in a way. By trusting me with this information I feel it was a nod to the commitment he was making to our relationship and to me. It removed any anxiety that may have been lurking in my self-destructive brain that he might leave me for a better, thinner version. I had this knowledge now and, in my opinion, he would only share that with someone he would want to stay with forever.
The pressure is eased further, I think, because of the weight he is gaining. I’m enjoying watching him get bigger and knowing how much he is loving it. The obsessive compulsion I used to have with weighing and measuring myself is now something we have adopted into our routine, except it’s not me on the scale. It’s turned from a deeply problematic, often daunting and disappointing activity to a positive experience fuelled by child-like glee and excitement.
It’s been refreshingly eye-opening seeing how someone can have a positive relationship with food and enjoy weight gain. The mental burden of being constantly aware of my own weight and figure has been removed and replaced by the joyful task of helping R put on weight.
I’m not saying this was an instant fix, I still have body image issues and constantly strive to be fitter, thinner, slimmer, curvier, thicker, sexier. I still have days, weeks even when I look in the mirror and hate what I see but the negativity once associated with enjoying food and gaining weight has been somewhat lessened.
Who knew my boyfriend getting fat would help with our collective mental health so much, eh?