BY MARTINA MAYA-CALLEN
An apple is just an apple. It may seem simple, yet this was a concept that took me a long time to grasp, and I am still working on it. The dark, bad number my mind projects when seeing an apple—“95,” representing the calories within it—is not how the world has to be viewed.
Numbers. They so seamlessly begin to sneak their way into controlling lives—weight, calories, sizes and measurements. Before one realizes, numbers can become the component that make or break their day. How many calories were consumed? How many were burned off? Constant thoughts of food and the individual’s fight to resist it permeate the mind.
What many people do not realize is that going on a diet to lose a few pounds can trigger and initiate an eating disorder. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is here, Feb. 26 to March 3, and the topic needs to be brought on to Salisbury University’s campus. Eating Disorders (ED) are not trivial. ED has the highest mortality rate amongst mental health disorders. They also very often co-exist with other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD and more.
For me, when life was crazy and uncontrollable in every other way, the numbers were the only thing I could control. In that way, calorie restriction and not eating feels…successful. It is like gaining power over your life. Quickly, this “power” began to regulate my thoughts, feelings and my entire entity. I so truly, madly, deeply hated myself. You would think I was a Savage Garden song.
I have had a love/hate relationship with food along with low self-esteem since I was in elementary school. Elementary school. As I glance at the playground, at that little girl, I wonder—will she have the chance to just be a kid? To not have her mind filled with self-hate?
With spring break and summer just around the corner, it seems everyone is on a calorie-restricting diet, exercising and talking about trying to get their “bikini body.” The problem is, this is the kind of society and culture that creates eating disorders. They are telling people they are not good enough in magazines and online as they fill the pages and posts with high, unrealistic, airbrushed beauty standards that truly do not exist.
You, as you are right now, are in your bikini body!
After over a decade of hating myself, I am now learning to fall in love with every part of my body and every component of who I am. As a society, it is imperative that we take care of ourselves—including our mental health. You are beautiful. Stop counting. No number will ever define you.
Counseling Center: 410- 543-6070
National Eating Disorder Association Hotline: 1-800-931-2237