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Bye-bye Barbie

(by Esme Michaela)

In July, 2019, my mum, living in the United Kingdom, called me in New York for a catch-up. This spontaneous call came at the perfect time and changed the whole course of our relationship, and my life. I ended up in tears as I finally admitted to another person, as well as to myself, that I had been struggling with an eating disorder for years, and I wanted to get better.

Throughout my childhood, diet culture was heavily present in the home I shared with my mum, step-dad, and sister, as well as with my dad and step-mum. I was described as “chubby,” which I took to mean a bad thing, while my sister was very slender, so my belly was often pointed out. When we went shopping for clothes, my mum and sister told me how to suck in my stomach by breathing deeply, like “all women” did. As I was already experiencing body image issues, I got hooked on the idea that changing the way I looked would magically make me like myself.

Once I started working with a therapist, I began looking into factors that ma