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If you are familiar with the nickname, (for lack of a better term) Ana, I want to first and foremost apologize to you because that means you are for some reason familiar with Anorexia, just like me, Amanda Olejniczak. Welcome to my first story. This could potentially be triggering so read at your own risk. I want this story to be educational but also real and unfiltered, so here it goes... I was no older than 4 when I first heard the crazed voice of "Ana." I was sitting directly in the middle of my preschool's gymnasium floor crying because something in my own little 4 year old brain told me that my thighs were too big and should not be able to jiggle. Keep in mind that at this age, I was very small, smaller than most other kids my age, according to the percentiles I was in. This didn't matter though, I looked down at my legs, fiercely grabbed at them and shook them until my friend came over to me and asked what was wrong. I told her simply "I am fat." She tried to calm me down and even showed me that her thighs jiggled too and that they were supposed to be able to move. I didn't care though that her thighs could jiggle, I cared that mine did.
I don't remember what snapped me out of this crying fit but this would definitely not be the last time I would think of myself as fat. Some couple years later I had my best friend over at my house and somehow, it came to me that we should go on diets. I had never seen anyone in real life look at the fat and/or calorie contents of food on the label, but I knew that was something I needed to do if I wanted to be on a diet. Unfortunately, I probably learned this from the television whether that be a commercial or show, I don't recall. Anyway, going off of the nutritional information of 2% milk, I decided we should never again eat anything with calorie counts higher than what one serving of that milk had as well as the total fat counts. I had no idea what a calorie even was but I "knew" they made you fatter. Ironically, later in life, milk would be a terrifying substance to me. After my friend left, I remember drawing two outlines of girls on a sticky note. One was slightly bigger than the other. The slightly bigger one then had an "X" over it and said "not this" underneath and the smaller one was circled and had the word "this" under it. I hid those sticky notes in a little refrigerator magnet basket as a reminder to myself that I wanted to look like the smaller outline.
Reminder: no one had ever called me fat before. No one had ever bullied me at this point in my life, however I was terrified that I was indeed fat and needed to lose weight. I cared greatly about what others thought of me—I was often told that I was cute and petite. I guess somewhere in my brain, those messages turned into rules that I needed to stay that way.
My point: Yes, some warped body image issues can develop from bullying/name calling, but sometimes, it's the small things like those messages I was receiving often about how cute I was and how I would never be very big (even my doctors used these types of words.) NO, I do not blame anyone for the beginning of my battle with Anorexia which by the way, NO LONGER REQUIRES ANYONE to be a specific weight or to have lost a certain amount of weight to qualify for this disorder, but I do blame my environment in which I was growing up in.