I Had an Eating Disorder

One of the reasons that I started Stylaphile was as an effort to deal with body insecurities that I’ve suffered since I was a teenager. I shared my story originally on the fabulous JustMaryDesigns website (visit it if you want to see and buy some amazing body-positive art!), but I also wanted to share it here on Stylaphile.

If you’ve been through the same thing, I can relate. And if you need someone to talk to about your body image issues, feel free to email me at stylaphile@gmail.com.



I Need to Lay Off the Meat & Potatoes:

How a Thoughtless Comment 25 Years Ago Still Affects the Way I See Myself Today

Growing up in the very small town of Gadsden, Alabama, I had one big dream as a kid: I wanted to be an Emma Sansom High School majorette.

My mother was a majorette at the same high school back in the 50’s. (That’s her on the far right in the photo. Wasn’t she cute?)

When my older sister was in high school, a few of her best friends were majorettes. I wanted to be them.

I loved going to the football games to watch the marching band perform during half-time. I was mesmerized by the beautiful girls out front twirling batons in sparkly uniforms with big smiles on their faces. It was a big deal to be a majorette at Emma Sansom High School.

Me in the 70's with my first baton.

Me in the 70’s with my first baton.

So, at about the age of seven, I started learning to twirl. It became my obsession. I trained like an Olympic athlete every single day with one goal in mind – becoming an ESH majorette. I even endured that awful one-year period where you had play a musical instrument in the band and wear less than flattering band uniforms.

My sophomore year, I tried-out for majorette, and I got it! My dream had come true. I’d done it! I was one of the “chosen” ones. My high school popularity was sealed! I was living my dream.

Then, something happened that would affect me every single day for the rest of my life. A new band director was hired – “Mr. P” as we unaffectionately referred to him. He didn’t like the majorettes. He thought we took away from the performance of the band because no matter what fascinating formations the band was doing, nobody was paying any attention because the whole crowd was watching us.

One day during band practice, Mr. P was “addressing” the majorettes about what we were doing wrong (there was always something). He looked at me, and in front of the whole band said, “You need to lay off the meat and potatoes.”

This is what I looked like when a band director told me I was too fat. I was a size 8 at the time.

This is what I looked like when a band director told me I was too fat. I was a size 8 at the time.

Even as I write this blog post, I can still feel the utter humiliation that I felt that day. From that very moment, I have always thought of myself as overweight. I’m not, and I wasn’t back then (I was a size 8 at the time). I’ve never been a skinny girl. I inherited my mother’s hourglass figure and I’ve always had curvy legs.

Mr. P actually took it a step further and instituted a weight requirement and weigh-in prior to the next year’s majorette try-outs. This is when my eating disorder started. I learned to stick my finger down my throat and purge anything that might keep me from being a majorette the following year.

I passed the weigh in that year, but something else was happening. My self-image had changed. No longer was I out front twirling and happy, but I was constantly thinking to myself during half-time performances, “all of these people are looking at me and thinking I’m fat.” The joy of achieving my childhood dream was gone. One comment by one man had taken that away from me.

I quit the band at the end of my junior year. Mr. P was changing the majorette line to a “dance line” and I really had no desire to be a part of it. But two really good things happened to me that year. I joined the tennis team and got really interested in health and fitness and I stopped sticking my finger down my throat.  One day during my senior year, I passed Mr. P in the hallway and he told me that I looked great and that I should come back to the band. I told him to “F” off.

Now, in my adult life, I’m actually a size 6 and a lot thinner than I was even in high school. I work out every day and I take very good care of myself. But I still weigh myself every single morning and regardless of what the scale says, I still hear Mr. P saying “you need to lay off the meat and potatoes” and decades later, I still struggle with body image issues.


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8 thoughts on “I Had an Eating Disorder

  1. I had no idea you felt that way about yourself. I always envied you for your beauty and for being one of the “chosen ones”. You were amazing when you came to family gatherings with what i thought was outrageous clothes and hairstyles and color. I really wanted to be brave like you. You were who you were and didn’t care who liked it. You are a brave beautiful amazing woma Sydney Stone. Don’t ever let anyone take that from you. Love sent your way


  2. I’m not sure which one of my family members you are, but thank you for the comment! That’s the thing with eating disorders or depression or any other struggles that a lot of people are going through. Nobody really knows because people are so ashamed they try to put on a good front and a happy face to hide what they are really going through. But the silver lining is that this experience led me to where I am today and to create this blog to share my struggles (and triumphs!) with others.


  3. Sydney-I am so sorry you went thru that in high school. I had no idea. Shame on Mr.P!! To me you looked great & you were one of the best majorettes on the field.
    Love ya girl!!


  4. Hey Sydney! (I still think of you as Patti, since I have not seen you much since high school). I just want to let you know how much I admire you and commend you for being transparent now about something traumatic that happened (and is still happening to a small extent for you) long ago. You were ALWAYS so kind and genuine and very pretty in high school. I know that words from others may sound trite or even insincere- as if they feel like they have to compliment you now- but rest assured, that is not the case with me. I mean it. What baffles me- no, incenses me- is that a teacher, a grown man, intentionally demeaned you IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. Like you, back then I would have been embarrassed, humiliated, and silent. Inside, I would have been seething and hurt. If only we knew then what we know now, how differently we would react to the baseless cruelty of others. Your story is so good at showing how young girls see themselves- through the false eyes of others. Security and stability are so locked on to physical acceptance and the fact that Mr. P did that astounds me. My reaction now would be to defend you fiercely (as I am sure you would, too) and tell him a few words to clarify that people don’t treat others like that- especially teachers. I am so sorry that you have had to go through that physical and mental and emotional struggle all these years. I never suspected; you hid it well. You were such a gentle person and I am so glad that you have realized that his words are hollow, meaningless, and that your value and worth come from so much more than the scales. Well, I could go on, but I hope you get the gist. Thank you for your willingness to reveal this vulnerability. You will probably never know how many girls it helps to give new perspective to of themselves. Hope everything else is going great. Take care! Wendy (White) Locklar


  5. That is absolutely horrible and wrong on many levels. I myself would’ve been devastated. Band directors were people we looked up to. We were supposed to be able to trust that they would lead us in a positive direction at that impressionable age; not demean us. He was obviously an ignorant caveman type.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sydney I had no idea! I always thought you looked great! You had the guts to do what I had always wanted to do but never could. I didn’t think they would want a redhead on the line so I never tried out. This is a great article and glad to hear you are doing so well!

    Liked by 1 person

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