Before reading this post you might want to get some context by reading my prior post on ‘What they don’t tell you about being skinny’.
Years ago I had started a pitiful little blog with an entirely different focus. I was getting into photography at the time and, upon viewing countless beautiful images on Tumblr or Pinterest or Flickr etc. – those moody photos of spindly waifs bathing their limbs in sunlit windows, reclining on rumpled white sheets, clutching oversized cups of coffee in undersized hands – I decided I wanted to capture these moments myself. To my flighty twenty-something year old mind they all felt very dark and lovely and poetic. I thought they were a pretty way to manifest the complex moods in my head. So, considering these complex moods were actually the rumblings of my Dark Passenger, anorexia, and considering I had no suitably interested friends who would play the subjects of my art, it seemed logical to play the role of ‘spindly waif’ myself. Now, if there’s one thing an anorexic mind feeds on (because it’s you know, starving), it’s another reason to lose weight, and art seemed like a very exciting reason. I took grainy shots of my knees, my wrists, my feet in socks, my hands holding glass vases of poppies and the peaks of my collarbones under silver chains (avoiding my face at all costs because that beast ruined everything) – but no matter the angle, the lighting, or the props I was just too large and ungainly. I disgusted myself. I was the inevitable destroyer of my own attempts at beauty. It didn’t matter that the yarn of the socks looked like a perfectly rumpled winter morning, or that the poppies were bright, the silver chain shining – all I saw was shamefully fat limbs and lumps, destroying everything.
So I joined the hordes of people that make ‘how to look skinny in photos’ one of the top hits in Google, but the instructions on how to angle the body, turn the shoulders, and cross the ankles were counterproductive to the kind of images I wanted to create. I wanted bones that were exposed regardless of the pose – hipbones, kneecaps, shoulder blades, a perfectly corrugated sternum – my Dark Passenger told me that bones would transform my art, and my life, into the lovely and poetic world I wanted.
So, without further ado, here are 5 ways I tried to look skinny in photos, and you can too…
- Starvation – it’s number one, of course. It becomes easier the more you develop an all-consuming and crippling fear of ingesting any kind of food, to the point where you think of nothing else and spend your entire day calculating what can and can’t pass your lips, and when, and how you’re going to compensate for whatever you do have to eat when you start feeling dizzy and faint, your hands are shaking, and you’re brain is so numb you’re having car accidents.
- Purging – You might have to do this when you’re in starvation mode, because a whole apple makes you feel over-full, or your body’s basic survival instincts kick in one evening and cause you to eat more nuts or crackers than your fear would normally allow, and the concept of having this amount of food inside you is so torturous that you vomit until your throat is bleeding and your fingers become scarred from where they hit your teeth on the way past your tongue.
- Sleeping in – Sleeping in is a good way to make your hungry days go by more quickly. Chances are if you’re starving you wont sleep much at night, but then you can take sleeping pills on weekends so you sleep in late and effectively avoid eating for most of the day. You won’t be productive at all. You wont want to do much other than lie on the couch watching DVDs or distracting yourself in some other way, and you wont have much time to spend with family and friends, but that’s not what’s important here, right?
- Overexercising – Run until you’re on the verge of passing out from your (now) familiar heart palpitations and arrhythmia, and leave time for squats and crunches in the evening. Remember to get some decent running shoes because all that malnutrition from your poor diet will have given you osteoporosis and those tattered converse will make your shinbones ache.
- Sabotaging all relationships – last but not least. The bottom line is, relationships require too much energy. Family and friends want you to eat with them, spend time with them, engage with them – and if you’re following the above tips then you just won’t have the energy or headspace to do this. Besides, if you’re starving and purging you’ll be terrible company anyway because you’ll be snappy and cranky and defensive all the time.
So there you have it. Forget healthy diets, core workouts, soft lighting, and clever posing – if looking skinny is that important to you, you’ll find my top 5 tips will have you slimmed down in an arrhythmic heartbeat. Now, in case you haven’t figured it out already, here are my top 5 tips on why you shouldn’t actually give a fuck whether or not you look skinny in photos…
- Your loved ones would rather see your smile than your bones
- No one actually sees what you see. Those ‘horrifying’ lumps and bumps you see leaping like beacons from the photographs just aren’t noticeable to anyone else – especially not to the people that matter.
- Comparing yourself to others and trying to conform is just shit. The fact is, the only way you’ll think you look as good as other people is if you get yourself a healthy dose of self-esteem.
- You will probably never look ‘good enough’ anyway. We are our own worst critics, making our personal ideas of ‘perfection’ ultimately unattainable. Stop trying to change your body, and start trying to change how you feel about it. In the long run it’s more important to make your flaws your friends, and fuck anyone who tells you they should be your enemies.
- At the end of the day your mind is too amazing and precious to be tortured by thoughts of weight and appearance. Focus on feeding your soul through pursuing the things that really matter.
Unfortunately, for the 9% of Australia’s population experiencing an eating disorder, the first 5 tips are easier to incorporate into their lives than the latter. Of course, eating disorders arise due to a variety of reasons, and in my case wanting to look skinny in photos was only a fraction of the whole, and served more as a manifestation rather than a catalyst for my anorexia – but nevertheless I think the imagery we surround ourselves with plays a significant role in how we value our selves and our worth. The more critical and literate we are when it comes to the images we are surrounded by, and surround ourselves with, the more chance we have of accepting ourselves and living richer lives – one step at a time 😉