I welcome you to join me as I share my story of my own fight for beauty! I’ll be posting once a week a new chapter of my journey, from beginning to end. I’m going to share the good, the bad, the ugly, and the embarrassing. My hope is to remove the veil and misconceptions that people have about eating disorders while offering hope to those struggling that there really is a way out.
With that said, here is Chapter 4 of my story. To read chapter 1, click here.
I remember waking up the day after I first binged. My head was pounding and my entire body felt lethargic, however no feeling was greater than the shame I felt. I laid in bed as I looked at the magazines besides my bed that were filled with photos of pop stars and celebrities with tiny waists and a thigh gap. All the messages I had received since childhood told me that my worth was little to none if I didn’t have a perfect body, and I felt the closest I had ever felt to worthlessness in that moment.
I made a promise to myself that I would never let it happen again.
I made a lot of broken promises.
I spent the entire next day eating nothing except for decaffeinated coffee (I had read an article that said caffeine prevented weight loss) and fat-free creamer. I tried going for a run in my neighborhood but quickly lost my stride due to lack of food and energy.
The next day I allowed myself one bowl of Special K cereal with skim milk. I was beginning to feel more in control of myself and I went about my day as though I was walking on air. The feeling of hunger made me feel hopeful about my future. It gave me a strange sense of euphoria where I felt as though I could accomplish anything. Saying no to food meant saying yes to happiness.
I could only go a few days eating little to nothing before I would eventually break.
Binge. After Binge. After Binge.
Starve for two days. Binge for one. Starve for three days. Binge for two.
I felt out of control.
As the days turned to months, I slowly began putting on weight from all the binging. I became depressed and being anywhere in public gave me anxiety. One day as I sat in the girl’s locker room at school, I overheard two girls gossiping about one of their friends.
Have you seen how skinny Christina is now? I heard she started taking exlax, water pills, and taught herself how to throw up. She needs help.
Maybe this was my answer. To be honest, the thought of taking laxatives was nauseating but I was desperate at this point. I’d do anything to lose weight.
Within two weeks, I could tell I was losing weight. Others would make comments which only gave me more determination to continue losing weight. I convinced my parents to buy me a treadmill for Christmas and I would spend hours in our basement running mile after mile.
I finally was able to stop bingeing so often and limited my calories to 500 per day. As I continued to lose weight, people would approach my parents to ask if I was ok. Hearing their concerns didn’t scare me, but instead made me feel on top of the world. Peers would ask me for weight loss advice and praise me for my obvious triumph.
I was a girl obsessed. If I ever felt tempted to eat a “bad” food, I would write with a sharpie on my hand “You are fat! Do not eat!” I kept photos of popular celebrities like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera taped to my mirror to help motivate me and discourage me from eating if tempted. For the first time, I felt in control of my own life.
Two weeks after my high school graduation, I packed my bags and moved to Denver, Colorado to work with my vocal coaches and pursue my dream of music. Arriving in Denver was exciting and helped fulfill my need for adventure. After my parents helped get me settled in, they drove away and reality hit.
I didn’t know a soul there. I kept myself busy working and practicing at the music academy I was studying at and while I made a few friends, I found myself spending much of my time isolating. My obsession with my body grew even more as I entered into a music competition that would take place in LA. The mix of my own self-induced pressure and the loneliness I had from being away from home threw me into another cycle of binging and purging by spending hours at the gym.
When I finally arrived in LA, I was met by my mother at the hotel. She was always supportive of my dreams and so she thought that helping me stay thin would only help me. Her intentions were good, however damaging. Every time we would eat, she would comment on my food selection if she felt it was too fattening.
Rihanna, you’re going to regret eating that and you’ll feel sad when you have to perform tomorrow.
She was right.
While in Los Angeles, I was approached by a talent manager who wanted to represent me. I remember driving to his private office and meeting at a long conference table as he looked at my head shots and listened to a few of my demo recordings. He continued to name drop a few of his clients and friends in the industry. During our meeting, he mentioned that he had just missed a call from Kevin Federline, who in 2005 was widely known for his ill-intentioned marriage to Britney Spears. He kept saying that I had a marketable look and good talent and then asked if I could drop ten pounds in the next two weeks and be back in LA for a photo shoot and a recording session at Paramount studios.
My mom and I looked at each other in amazement as I shouted, “YES. I won’t eat for two weeks if that’s what I have to do!”
He laughed and joked about how I just needed to do whatever it takes because I was headed for the big time.
As we drove home, my head was spinning. My dreams were actually going to come true. The only thing that stood between me and my dreams was ten pounds; and I wasn’t going to let that happen.
Stay tuned for the next chapter next Wednesday!
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