I woke up some mornings feeling foreign.
TW: weight loss, eating disorders
This is the story of how JCP Eats started.
We are so often socialized to not talk about subjects like this. It’s stigmatizing to converse about eating disorders, which is even more true when talking about them as a fat person. Furthermore, men are often excluded from this discourse (mind you, one of the few that we are) due to shame and the fear of societal emasculation.
I want that dialogue to change. I am vowing to do it – and it starts now.
“Rather, they saw me as a failed experiment.”
I, for many years, felt like a stranger inside my own skin. My body — it didn’t feel like my body. It wasn’t a home. It wasn’t a refuge. It was an arena that I consistently maneuvered – one that proved to be impossible, one that spoke a different language, one that never matched my wavelength.
My weight has been a rollercoaster my entire life. I was always the fat kid. I was the fat teenager. I am the fat adult.
I’ve reclaimed the word fat. It’s empowering.
The word that held me back now liberates me.
In my life, I have experienced many slimming periods. Which were healthy… until they weren’t. The first 100 pounds melted off with diet and exercise – and then the weight loss ceased. From there, I felt that I had to take matters into my own hands. This, unfortunately, materialized in the form of a severe eating disorder.
For some reason, my body has always been a point of controversy. I looked “so great” when I lost the weight – however, gossip started to spread when I gained it back. People began to not see me for the studious, outgoing, driven person that I am; rather, they saw me as a failed experiment.
While I don’t want to divulge too much information for privacy reasons, I do want to say this. Whether it was not eating food or ridding of my food, I found a way to nullify my caloric intake. This transpired the summer between high school and college, along with my first semester as an undergraduate. At a certain point, I knew that I had to recover for my mental health, my emotional health, and my physical health.
“However, most importantly, I’m a survivor.”
In conversation surrounding recovery avenues, one person suggested that my love of photography could change the relationship that I fostered with food. Instead of seeing food as an enemy, one that has plagued me since childhood, I should begin to see it as art. I did – and it changed everything.
That’s exactly how JCP Eats started.
People often think that I am merely a foodie.
I am all of those things.
However, most importantly, I’m a survivor.
I am proud to admit that publicly – and, quite frankly, my food pics were my savior.
This is for you.
To the person reading this out there that struggles with the demons that I fought, and fight, listen up.
To the person that eats more than average.
To the person that uses food to cope with emotions.
To those struggling with eating disorders.
To those that are affected by society’s close-minded view on weight.
To those that endure fatphobia.
To those that feel marginalized, disenfranchised, ostracized, inferior.
I say this:
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
You are beautiful.
You are worthy.
You are intelligent.
You always have the right to feel.
You are better than society’s view of your body.
You are stronger than the roots of fatphobia in our world.
You deserve the space that you occupy.
You deserve that bite of food.
You are worthy of dessert.
You are more than your calorie count.
You are loved (by me).
Stop, collaborate, and listen:
Eat the hamburger.
Use full-fat mayonnaise (Hellman’s, preferably, if you ask me).
Eat the bread.
Add the cheese.
Can’t decide between a couple of things? Order ’em both.
Explore your cravings.
Enhance your food repertoire.
Check out new restaurants.
Live your life, girl.
While you’re at it, snap a photo of it – and tag me in it.
Through my food photography, I am not aiming to endorse an unhealthy lifestyle. I am not glorifying obesity. I am not encouraging bad habits. What I am doing is telling all y’all that life is delectable. It’s tasty. It’s full of love. It’s full of adventure. Try it. You’ll love yourself for it. It helped me. It saved me. It enabled me to recover. It taught me to love myself for who I am.
If you need help, you can reach the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) hotline at 1-800-931-2237. They can be reached M-TR from 9AM – 9PM ET, F 9AM – 5 PM ET.
Please also know that I am merely an email away. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.