A letter to the girl on the left, who looks happy, but is aching inside. From the girl on the right, who has learned how to laugh and smile and feel joy.
“Dear young Lexi,
I wish I could tell you that you will be okay.
I wish I could give you a hug and tell you its okay to cry, be angry, feel.
I wish I could tell you it’s okay to ask for help.
I wish I could help you see that life will get better.
I wish I could take the emotions and the struggles you feel and put them into present day me. Because I know how to cope with them now, and you don’t.
I wish I could tell you that starving yourself doesn’t fix it.
I wish I could tell you that the numbers on the scale do not change your worth.
I wish I could list the things that are so much better than being skinny.
I wish I could explain to you that you don’t have to have it all together.
I wish I could tell you that control over food doesn’t mean the chaos in life goes away.
I wish I could make the lies go away.
I wish I could have stopped you from all the pain and hurt and tears and heartbreak.
I wish I could show you how to love yourself.
But you will learn.
You will learn to trust the process.
You will learn to feel the pain and accept it is part of life.
You will learn to ignore the voice.
You will learn to tell society’s standards to fuck off.
You will learn to work on accepting yourself.
You will learn how to live life again.
*trigger warning: difficult discussion of animal testing conditions*
If you know me, you know I am obsessed with my bunny, Charlie. Obsessed.
When I got Charlie and when I went vegetarian, I also started to research the make up industry and learn a bit more about animal testing. I went vegetarian for moral, ethicalreasons; I started buying cruelty free for the same reasons.
Animal testing is horrendous. Animals are subjected to experiments and treatments that often cause them intense pain. But, unlike us, they are helpless to do anything about it. Did you know that part of animal testing could be removing organs? Yep. You read that correctly.
Here are some other facts:
“We estimate that the top 10 animal testing countries in the world are the USA, Japan, China, Australia, France, Canada, the UK, Germany, Taiwan and Brazil, in that order.” (Facts and Figures on Animal Testing)
That is over 9 million a month, 2 million a week, and 340k A DAY.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… (If you are interested in learning more, you can visit Cruelty Free International, this do-something article about animal testing, and the Humane Society International page. And for a REALLY amazing and comprehensive article on animal testing, you can visit this. )
So, how can I tell if something is cruelty free? Well, here is the tricky part… There are a lot of different messages about animal testing on labels and they aren’t all the same. Some companies say “not tested on animals” or “cruelty free,” but no one monitors this claim. Basically, it’s an honour code type thing (seriously, think back to college take home tests and how they tell you not to use the book but it’s really up to you if you abide by the honour code and listen to that… that is the same thing here). You can dig into this further and go online to the brand website for more information. There is the PETA cruelty free symbol, which means that PETA monitors these standards. And there is the Leaping Bunny symbol, which is arguably the one you want to look out for on products! Leaping bunny is the highest standards of cruelty free, making it the safest bet for cruelty free products.
Here is another tricky thing… some parent companies are not cruelty free, but some of their branches are. For example, bareMinerals is cruelty free, but Shiseido, which is not. I will occasionally still by these brands (I love the matte lipstick from bareMinerals. I had tried it before I went cruelty free in my purchases), but I try to stick to totally cruelty free companies.
Where can you find cruelty free items? Actually, they are everywhere. You just have to know a few brands you like that are cruelty free. And there are a LOT of resources out there to help with that.
My personal favourite source of cruelty free information is Cruelty Free Kitty. I absolutely adore this site. On it you can find guides to cruelty free products at Ulta, Sephora, Drugstores, Amazon, etc. I totally recommend taking a look around! These guides will also tell you if a parent company is not cruelty free, which is SUPER helpful.
As for me…what are my favourite cruelty free products? As a college student, I have to be a bit frugal with my spending, especially on make-up (which can get REALLY
expensive! Looking at you non-cruelty free Lancome and L’Oreal!). So I tend to go for the lower cost make-up. I mostly use Essence, which is a cruelty free brand you can find at Ulta. I love the brand. It’s not expensive and it feels pretty light!
I use method cleaning products at home, when I can! I am still making a transition to cruelty free in the home area! I throw out as I finish and then replace it with a cruelty free or homemade version! Cruelty Free Kitty has a list of cleaning brands if you are interested!
Why should I switch to cruelty free? Honestly, I can’t tell you this. It’s your decision to switch and to know why you want to! For me, I would think about animal testing and immediately imagine my Charlie being the bunny in there. I couldn’t handle that thought. And I can’t save the animals who are still being put through these horrific tests, but if I can avoid buying things that support the practice (just like I don’t eat meat or fish for the same reason), I will ABSOLUTELY do that.
This week, in therapy, I talked a lot about being tired.
Not sleepy, didn’t-go-to-bed-early-enough tired.
Tired of the energy it takes to do recovery. Tired of the time I have to spend thinking about what I ought to do to fight the eating disorder, what I need to do to keep myself fueled…
…when what I want to do is hit the “fuck it” button and just stop.
There is a dichotomy between chronic and chosen. With chosen–like a goal or a desire–you can stop if you opt to. You can, for example, decide you want non-decaf coffee today even if your goal was to limit caffeine.
But with chronic, you cannot decide. Your choice is void because it was never your decision to begin with.
When you decide to recover, you waive any possible “fuck it” option. You contend with the idea of never-ending mental energy.
Most of the time, the benefits of recovery vastly supersede the annoyance of your waiver.
But occasionally, the Mephistophelian truth of your decision comes out: you don’t have a choice.
I sound negative. I recognize this. But I also acknowledge that recovery is not universally positive.
A multitude of recovery, the little undiscussed bits and pieces, can fluctuate between the poles of experience: positive, negative, neutral.
Just like the comprehensive trajectory of recovery, the energy consumption annoyance goes up and down. Remember: “recovery isn’t linear.” Turns out, the stamina it takes to consistently pick recovery isn’t linear, either.
However, there is a silver lining (er, gold lacquer… just a little kintsukuroi reference there 😉 ).
In my experience, opting for the endurance it takes to be in recovery is much more preferable to the pertinacity it takes to be symptomatic in an eating disorder. Eating disorders are WORK, mental energy wise. You think about calories and food and exercise and guilt and your body and etc. and etc.
If you are already putting in the energy, why not have it be directed in the direction of the path giving you back vitality… towards recovery.