Day zero: How I’m learning to love myself

For the past nine years of having a binge eating disorder, my life has been divided into ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. ‘Good’ days are when I eat well under the calories necessary to sustain my weight. ‘Bad’ days are when I reach or exceed this calorie limit.

It’s crazy: my eight-year-old daughter could be cuddling up to me, saying ‘Mummy, I love you so much, you’re the best mummy in the world!’ – but if I’d had a binge that day, I would still be feeling bad.

Yesterday I met up with my friend Charlie Brooker for lunch. I told him I’d already eaten a 100g chocolate bar for breakfast and described myself as ‘hopeless’. He gently pointed out that I was beating myself up needlessly.

I don’t think anyone had ever said that to me before – not even a therapist. People have said ‘you’re still beautiful’ or ‘you’re not fat’, which are very well-meaning things to say, but still prioritise good looks and slimness over being fat and ugly.

What Charlie said hit home. I thought about it for the rest of the day – the way in which I’m putting off my happiness until I’m skinny. The way in which my size invalidates the rest of my life, no matter how luminous it is. The way in which my scales dominate my existence and dictate my mood.

The fact is, I’ve been through some seriously shitty things: an abusive childhood, two abusive relationships, one of which included violence during pregnancy, one rape, hundreds of sexual assaults while working as a dancer in clubs, 12 sexual assaults in everyday life, a major nervous breakdown and serious mental health issues… is it any wonder that I subconsciously feel I need physical ‘padding’ like a suit of armour to keep me protected from and invisible to men? Or that binge eating is my way of coping with life?

My favourite thing I’ve ever done is be a mum to Lily. I love her to infinity and beyond, and she loves me right back – and for most of her life, I’ve been plus size. She’s the best and I’m so, so lucky. I have great friends, a beloved grandmother who I see each week, I write for a living (it’s not much of a living, but I love it) and I have every right to be happy.

So, for the first time in nine years, I’m throwing out all my scales (no more pictures of the scales on this blog – whoo-hoo!). Yes, I would prefer to be a normal weight for the sake of my health, but I’m certainly not going to put off my happiness until some distant point in the future. I’m going to stop going to Slimming World and counting calories and Syns, and will instead try intuitive eating – eating when I’m hungry, not eating when I’m not, and trying to eat my five-a-day.

And if I fancy a piece of cake and a hot chocolate, I’m damn well going to have them, enjoy them and not feel guilty and as though I’ve ‘ruined’ everything. For the first time in a long time, I am going to be properly happy.

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This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Sammy and Jelly, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss,, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn and Marcus P Knight.


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12 thoughts on “Day zero: How I’m learning to love myself”

  1. I think idles said it best :
    If someone talked to you
    The way you do to you
    I’d put their teeth through
    Love yourself
    And that’s what they do
    The bastards made you
    Not want to look like you
    So you pay through the nose
    To look like someone else
    All the weirdos on the shelf
    Love yourself
    Love yourself
    Love yourself

  2. Bingo! Now that you’ve realised this hopefully you can escape the trap of thinking that “if I lose x-amount of weight my life will magically improve” and the self-defeating binge and bust punishment spiral that sort of thing leads to. Whether a seven stone waif or forty stone rag-on-a-stick-washer you’re still the same awesome Ariane and the life you want is there for the taking. Go get ‘em!

    1. You’re the best, Rik! And you’re so right abuu myth the binge and bust spiral – that’s EXACTLY what I was doing. Love the idea of washing things with a rag on a stick, too – I actually don’t have a job right now, so…

  3. You know, I think one way you can tackle being eating is to fill up your stomach with something healthy, carrots, or even radishes, not with you’re craving for – I’m not sure that after radishes you’ll be wanting chocolate then. The truth is that life tastes more like turnip or radish, but not chocolate.

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