Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: I Do Not Restrict.

I have friends that I spend time with.

I go out in the morning.

I go out at night.

I go out for meals.

I eat when I am hungry.

I eat until I'm full.

I do not restrict.

Sometimes I don't go to the gym.

Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I eat junk food.

Mostly I eat healthy food.

I eat when I am hungry.

I can't remember the last time I did a body check.

I can't remember the last time I counted a calorie.

Yes, I still look at myself in the mirror, but now when I do, I see a beautiful person with a great amount of strength. I see something to be proud of, not a list of things to hide from.

There's no rhyme or reason to this post - just the fact that, if you had showed this to me a year and a half ago, I couldn't even have fathomed it.

Please, choose recovery.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: Creepy Men of NY

Dear Man with the Musty Old Jacket and Wandering Hands,

How did you not fuck off two trains ago?

I realize my ass is one that's begging to be followed, but that doesn't mean I was.

Do you even remember how it went down, or have you followed enough women that you no longer know how to differentiate? I'll make it easy for you: this is what happened.

I boarded the L train in Manhattan, consumed by Flowers for Algernon and oblivious to the people around me.

You got on at the next stop, sat down right next to me. I found it a little strange that I could feel your left leg and arm pressed up so closely against my right arm and right leg, but it wouldn't have been my first time making physical contact with someone on a packed subway car, so I didn't give it much thought.

This next part starts getting weird.

You cross your arms. I'm aware of you now - you see sir, you gave yourself away here. You were just fidgeting a little too much. Your left arm crosses over your right, somewhat masking it. You were clever; you thought this through. The fingertips of your right hand graze against my right upper thigh and I come to life. I glance in your direction. The fingertips disappear, but you do not move a muscle. I begin to doubt myself - did I imagine that touch? I keep my peripherals trained on your gray shirt sleeve in the corner of my right eye, but nothing else happens.

The train comes to a stop and I stand up, glancing back at you before I step off. You remain seated, which is why this next part eludes me. See, it eludes me because I get up and I follow the hoards of people headed for the G train, convinced you are NOT following me. In fact, why would the possibility of you following me even cross my mind? If it's 2018 and men and women are equal and #MeToo and the world is going to be okay, then why the fuck do I need to be afraid of you?

I cross the station, lose myself in the crowd, relieved that I've left you behind forever.

The G train is at the station as I bound down the stairs - perfect timing. Would this have gone down the way it had if the train hadn't already been there?

I step onto the train just before the doors close, shutting out everyone and everything else. I place my right hand on the nearest pole, gripping it for balance. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a gray shirt sleeve attached to a hand, which is gripping the pole right above my hand. My heart sinks. You.

I glance to my right and confirm via peripherals - there you are. Standing directly behind me. Close enough to touch.

I tell myself not to freak out. But why do I tell myself not to freak out? My thoughts are jumbled and confused. I have pepper spray in my purse but I'm not even considering that in the moment. All I can think about is what is going to happen next. Not what I should do to defend myself, but what...the hell is this?

I feel something press against my backside and I know it's you. I instinctively jerk forward. I don't even look in your direction, which doesn't matter because you aren't looking in mine. No one else on the train is aware of what's going on. Your hand lowers an inch to graze against mine on the pole. This time I step away and move to a different pole. My heart is racing because it's almost my stop and you still haven't gotten off.

The train arrives at my stop and I confidently step off the train, preparing myself for whatever is about to go down. Don'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffhere is an anthem on repeat in my head. You get off with me.

I slow my walk, slow enough that you would look ridiculous if you don't pass me up. Yet, you don't pass me up. I continue walking, a little enraged and very terrified. Only about two other people got off with us, and they're long gone by now.

I move through the turnstile and turn to the staircase. I pause, giving you a moment to walk up ahead of me. You begin fumbling with your phone like a conspicuous idiot. Do you realize I'm completely aware of you and what you're doing? What are you doing? Why can't you leave me alone?

I walk up the staircase, figuring between that and staying down in an empty subway station alone with you, it's the best option. I hear your footsteps right behind me. I feel you looking at me.

And then I feel you reach out and grab my butt and I whip around and I yell in your face, "What the fuck are you doing?!" and you blurt out "Sorry!" and run past me and sprint across the street, turning back once, twice, three times to see if I'm still watching you run away and I'm shaking my head and I'm cursing after you and I'm wondering why the hell is this the world we live in?

Sincerely,

Don't Fucking Touch Me.

**Sadly NONE of this has been fictionalized, but you can still email me your thoughts at taylorfengle@gmail.com!**

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The First Day

I wasn't sure what to expect. Perfectly reasonable, isn't it?

When you're returning to a place two years after you went through these exact same motions with less than half the body weight and a completely toxic mindset, it's expected to be a little jarring.

You get up early and take the train into the city, somewhat relieved that you're taking the J to the B going uptown from Brooklyn and not the B or the C going downtown from the Upper West Side, because that would make this whole thing just a little too familiar.

You get onto your first train, wrapped in a thick, woolly coat because it's less than 50 degrees out and your pansy ass is from California. As soon as you get on the train, packed in like a sardine with all of the other Brooklynites commuting to the City for the work week, you breathe in the musty and humid air of the train impacted by everyone's body heat (including yours) and you remember where you are. You smile; you hold back some tears of joy. It's too early for that.

You transfer to your second train, a little closer to your fate. How is this about to go down?

Are you going to get tired quickly, make mistakes, think about all of the food you're withholding from yourself instead of putting your 100% into your work? Are you going to let your mental illness take over again? Are you going to let yourself down in the most grandiose and traumatic way yet? Are you going to scare your mother again, keep her tossing and turning at night over the state you've worked yourself into? How is this about to go down?

It was easy to starve myself last time I was alone--too easy. And when I'm alone in New York, I'm alone. 

I went public about my anorexia and subsequent recovery for two reasons: to hold myself accountable and to help others. However, it's hard to be held accountable when the only people who really know about your past are all 3000 miles away. But, I digress.

Your train stops at that fateful station that transports you back in time. You're not 23, you're not recovering, you're not yet confident and curvier than Lombard Street. You're 21, you're judgmental with no right to be, you have a false sense of confidence; you're hopelessly anorexic.

You snap out of it, hesitantly walking up the stairs and across the platform to the exit closest to Hearst Tower. You notice how much faster you're walking than you were two years ago. Your knees aren't hurting from the constant strain. You marvel at the fact that you don't feel...degradable. Fragile. Ready to fall apart and die at any moment (because that's what eating disorders are - a constant pounding on death's door).

You didn't think it was possible to ever feel this okay again.

You enter the building and give your name to the front desk: TAYLOR ENGLE. You're here for your first day. The security guard at the front desk makes small talk with you, bringing up the weather. He looks at the computer screen and muses, "Ah, you've been here before. In 2016?" You nod, but you know that wasn't really you. Yes, Taylor Engle has been here before, but this is your first time. 

You take the surreal journey from the lobby to the 25th floor, recalling all the times you stood in this same elevator surrounded by people but feeling completely alone and close to defeat. You arrive at the correct floor and wait to be buzzed in. You want to believe that this time is going to be different, but you're still incredibly unsure of yourself and what you're capable of.

The truth is, it's been in the air - the doubt. You know everyone is proud of you and believes in you, but you feel the hesitation in others' voices when you tell them you're moving to New York. You see the fear in their eyes. You can sense them wanting to say, "Are you sure you won't relapse?" They don't say it, but you know it's on everyone's mind.

"Welcome, Taylor!"

You recognize your new boss Janice from the interview. She's tall, waif-like and beaming. She's dressed impeccably, like everyone else in the building. She ushers you around, introducing you to people who you remember but who don't remember you. You can't blame them - even if they did take the time to remember faces of past interns, they surely wouldn't remember yours compared to how you look now.

Janice takes you into the closet (insert tired gay joke that people somehow still find to be funny), where you will be working out of every day. The "closet" is huge: a spacious room with bay windows overlooking the city. It's filled with accessories and clothing from all of the top designers in the world, and your job is to make sure the French and Italian brands get to where they need to go for the magazine's photo shoots.

You meet the women you'll be working alongside. It's all so reminiscent of two years ago. You can't help but notice that you're the biggest person in the room. Not by a lot and not at all in an unhealthy way, but it's something you still notice. It might be something you'll always notice. You have curves, and that is, in no way, a crime.

Everyone seems nice enough. You sit right next to Ricki, who is Janice's other assistant in French and Italian ready-to-wear and the person who is going to show you the ropes. She's tall like Janice with bright, naturally red hair and glasses. She's soft-spoken and well-read. You don't interact too much on the first day, but you can tell it's a relationship that is going to come easily.

Across the way from you and Ricki is Frankie, Sloan and Thalia. Frankie and Sloan are accessories assistants while Thalia handles American and British ready-to-wear brands. Thalia's fellow assistant (there are two in each market under each editor) is Natasha, who sits on the other side of the closet next to the accessories assistant editor, Cat.

The best part? No one knows you've been here before.

No one knows you used to sit here, practically out of your mind with hunger, convincing yourself to wait a little longer before you go get lunch (which was never more than a small salad of a few vegetables). No one knows how little you actually cared about your job because your entire life was consumed by your eating disorder. The only you they're going to know is the version of you who wants to be here, is grateful to be here, and is going to give this job all of your attention because the rest of your basic needs are taken care of.

Your first day goes miraculously smoothly. Both Ricki and Janice are impressed by how easily you're learning. Of course, much of this is because you have been here before and remember how things are done, but you have to give yourself credit where it's due: you're working harder than ever before.

Soon enough, a week has passed and you've gotten the hang of things. There are still many little bits of information you need to familiarize yourself with and in fashion you are always making mistakes and learning from them, but for the most part, you are making your boss (and yourself) proud.

A major test comes after the first big photo shoot: returns. After every photo shoot, it is the assistants' job to return every sample piece to the designer or PR company who loaned it to the magazine. You remember doing this as an intern, which means you also remember how you messed up because you were so malnourished. You returned the wrong thing to the wrong brand, you missed a few pieces of jewelry in a return, etc.

It's two years later and you're terrified to make the same mistakes. You're handling the entire return process by yourself because Ricki is consumed with another task. A few hours go by - you have checked, double-checked, and triple-checked to ensure you're doing everything properly and in entirety. Janice comes into the closet and is amazed. She calls you a machine for getting everything done so quickly and effortlessly. This means more to you than anyone in the closet will ever know (unless, of course, they're reading this).

You still have many more days at work and many more opportunities to slip up, but so far you're incredibly proud of yourself. This journey in your life could have gone one of two ways, and so far, you're making all of the right decisions. You're finally growing up.

**NOTE: Names and the details of certain events have been fictionalized for privacy reasons...but email me at taylorfengle@gmail.com if you want the REAL gossip.**

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The Reunion

I got off the plane with sleep in my eyes and a hint of deja vu. I had done this so many times before, it didn't even feel exciting. It just felt like it was time.

Until, of course, I actually got my ass off the plane and into a Lyft on my way to the leasing office to sign onto my new apartment. I stared out the window in awe as my driver took me through the streets of my new home, a borough I never thought I'd call such a thing: Brooklyn.

When I lived in New York before, I was in Manhattan. That was always the definition of New York to me: Manhattan. The rest of the state was inconsequential. Manhattan was my world and it was the only place I wanted to live - until I realized how much rent was. I (reluctantly) ran straight for Brooklyn.

The drive from JFK to Brooklyn showed me parts of the borough I'd never considered before. In my (one) experience, Brooklyn was overly hipster and ironic and everything I hated about everyone who tried to be "different" where I come from. It felt phony and forced, which was an unfair judgment for me to impose on a place I'd been exposed to for a grand total of three hours in 2016. This drive gave me a different perspective. The buildings were old yet beautiful, begging to tell a story. I instantly perceived how much quieter it was than Manhattan, but that brought me a sense of peace and a reminder of home. I felt at ease - not that I had much of a choice. This was my new home.

My driver dropped me off at the leasing office for my building. Signing the lease in person was the only way it could be done, so this had to be my first stop with my big red suitcase, my giant coat, and my crippling exhaustion and hunger. I felt a flutter of nervousness as the driver pulled over, signaling the ride had come to an end. My mother had flown here from Idaho earlier that morning, and she was already in the leasing office waiting for me.

Getting the slightest bit nervous before seeing my mother was a new feeling, something that was brought on by the simple fact that we've been living in different states for almost a year now and haven't seen much of each other. It's a strange feeling, not living with your family anymore.

Although I can feel my mother's love from any part of the globe, it's an entirely new experience to go from seeing her every single day to only every few months or so. Although things go back to normal once I've seen her and said hello, the initial reunion is a shock every time.

I walked into the leasing office, a small room decorated very minimalist-chic with exposed brick interior, sleek white tables, and Mac computers. All of the men were wearing yamakas and talking fast. There were two women - one of whom had to be my realtor, because the other was my mother.

I was sleep-deprived, hungry, and anxious to get my keys so I could get out of there, but all of these nagging urges were pushed aside for the moment I saw my mother. She sat there with the same smile on her face I've seen on her every single day. She's a glass half full kind of woman.

I was desperate to hide the annoyance on my face; I didn't want her to think it was directed at her. "Hi," I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. I'd spent so much of my adolescence making it very obvious how much she annoyed me and interfered with my life, as we all do to our parents at some point, that it was of utmost importance to me that I showed her I've grown up without actually saying those words.

The truth is, I was amazed by her devotion to me. When I decided to move to New York, I was unsure who would support me. I had been struggling quite a bit in California, and almost everyone's facial expressions when I told them I wanted to move to New York told me the same thing: You're an idiot.

Everyone in California thinks New York is impossibly expensive (it's actually about the same cost of living if you consider the car expenses you'll no longer be shackled to), therefore it wouldn't be wise for someone with almost nothing to her name to move there without knowing a soul.

When I told my mother I had gotten the job and wanted to move across the country within one week, I sensed the hesitation in her voice. She was nervous for me, as any good mother would be. She and my dad weren't in love with the idea of me moving so far away from everything I knew and moving even FARTHER away from their home in Idaho, but they knew it was something I needed to do. The day after I purchased my plane ticket, my mom purchased hers. She was going to go with me to New York for one week to help me settle in.

I was tremendously touched by this gesture. Of course, I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. She's my mother and she's always loved me and wanted the best for me, but I've always resented that. I've been filled with doubt and fear for what feels like my entire life - doubt that anyone really gives a shit about anyone but themselves, and fear that if I let myself believe someone cares about me, I'll be crushed.

Somehow, it all clicked when I walked into that leasing office. My mother would drop her entire life for a week to come out and help my get settled in my new apartment. My mother would call me every single day for months on end just to talk to me about insignificant little isms, just to hear my voice. My mother would bottle up the entire world and give it to me if she could. I've been so lucky; I just never allowed myself to see it. No one has a Lori Engle.

The next week was possibly the best we've ever had together. It was the only time we've been alone for more than a couple days - except that probably isn't correct, and my mother will tell you. I am the queen of forgetting things, and many of my childhood memories are a blur. As soon as I say I've never done something before, my mother will swoop in with a triumphant smile to remind me that I have, actually, done that thing before and I was with her when I did it and I was two and don't I remember it happening? This used to bother me so much, but I now realize it's just her excitement to share with the world how much our relationship has always meant to her.

We spent the first two days scouring the neighborhood for things I would need around the house: a cheap set of plastic dressers, a mop and broom, some coat hangers for my closet, a laundry basket. The third day would be my first day of work.

We stopped for lunch and dinner each day after hours of exploring. I quickly came to love my new neighborhood. It's in an area of Brooklyn that is home to a lot of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, which is close enough to the culture I was ensconced in back in California.

I come from a Mexican lifestyle - my mother's side of the family is Mexican, everyone I've ever dated is Mexican, and most of my friends are Mexican or at least some type of Hispanic. Mexican culture isn't as rich in New York, which made me sad to think about. However, there is still a thriving Hispanic culture in my neighborhood (you know, bachata bumping in the front yard while kids play games and parents look on, sipping on Modelos and Coronas) that reminds me of home on days I need it the most.

Being surrounded by these familiar sounds and smells and my mother all at once felt so beautiful. I had been on my own for quite a while and was unused to the careful nurturing my mother is so capable of.

Aside from all of the many ways she helped me settle into my first New York apartment, she also was just such a lovely companion. I've always been told that, growing up as a woman, you go through stages with your mom. First you think she is the best thing in the world. Then, you begin to resent her and be annoyed by her very presence. Then, you start to realize how much she has done to you. Finally, she becomes your friend.

I appreciated her, on this little week we had together, just being my friend.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: How It Happened


On April 9 at 5:45 a.m., I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket and a suitcase. I was headed to JFK Airport and I was never coming back, at least not to live. I was never going to live in Orange County again. It felt strange.

But maybe I should start this from the very beginning.

I had been working in Irvine at a job that barely paid the bills and did not make me happy. I didn't feel fulfilled or like I belonged. Every day felt like a struggle, and at the end of it, all I could think about was New York. In my darkest times I cried out to the City, promising it I'd be back. I didn't know how, but I knew I would have to. It was killing me to live anywhere else.

New York City has always felt like a soulmate to me. Ever since I first visited at age 12, I knew. It's a dream I've talked about for years. I know some people have thought I was just a too-ambitious, naive kid with a ridiculous notion. My dreams have always been impossibly large, but I knew that nothing else would fit for me. It was going to have to be New York.

After I graduated college, I felt stuck. I was in a job I wasn't that passionate about and living in a town I hated. Although I had so many loved ones that I will cherish forever and always keep in my life, I was miserable in Orange County. It wasn't for me - it never has been and it never will be.

In December, although I was struggling financially and having an emotional breakdown almost daily about how scary it was, I made the irrational promise to myself to at least visit the City sometime in 2018. Even if I couldn't move just yet, I could at least get a little taste to sate me until I was ready. Luckily, my best friend Adam was one step ahead of me.

We planned our trip for mid-March--my birthday (on the 17th, mark it down in your calendars people. This is a national holiday as far as I'm concerned). It was such a beautiful experience. I got to be in the City, MY city, with my best friend. Although it wasn't permanent, it was a full four days of New York living.

I decided if I was going to take the time to travel across the country, I might as well make it worth it. I began reaching out to editors and writers in the City, hoping to get at least one response for a coffee meet and chat about their career. I was desperate for advice and direction--desperate to begin setting a path to my future.

As luck would have it, I lined up two meetings: one with a writer at New York Magazine's The Cut and another with a feminist author who inspired me to learn more about and pursue feminism back in college. Meeting with these two women felt like more than enough, until I got the email.

One day before I was ready to board the plane, I got an email from someone at Harper's Bazaar, the esteemed (and the United States' oldest) fashion magazine I had interned at that glorious summer in 2016. I had submitted my resume to them after graduation, letting them know I was interested in any and all open positions and I would love to be kept in mind.

I had interviewed at Harper's Bazaar back in March and did not hear back, presumably because it was over the phone and I was out of state. It's rare that someone in New York will hire someone out of state for an entry-level position, which made my permanent move feel even more unreachable. How can I move 3000 miles away when I don't have a secure job?

This email came from a different department at the magazine. The woman writing to me wanted to know if I could come in for an interview that Thursday. I was flying there on a Wednesday--I was incredulous in my genuine response of, "Yes, I can."

It felt surreal to be in the Hearst building again after all that time. I was about 60 pounds heavier, two years older, and an entirely different woman. I rode the elevator up to the 25th floor, a move that immediately felt routine to me. I was ushered into a conference room and instructed to wait for my interviewer. I sat there, feeling right. Hoping to God this was it. Knowing deep down...it was.

One week after the interview, I got the call. I was on my way home from the gym. The editor had told me she'd call me, but I wasn't sure what that meant. The possibilities raced through my mind, but a second interview seemed most likely.

The phone began to ring as I was turning left onto Chapman, about five minutes from my apartment. 

"Hi Taylor, this is ______," the voice on the other end said. It was the editor who had interviewed me.

"Hi!" I said, too anxious to say much more without bursting into laughter or tears.

"So, I wanted to wait until _______ had a chance to jump on the call with us, because I really wanted her to meet you. But she trusts my judgment and the fact that you've worked here before is a huge plus," she must have said. It was something along those lines. Meanwhile, my mind was sprinting laps. I felt it coming. Sayitsayitsayitsayitsayitsayit, my brain was screaming.

"When is the soonest you'd be able to start?" she said, interrupting my thoughts. I almost dropped the phone.

"As soon as possible," I said instinctively, refusing to give up this once-in-a-lifetime chance. The rest I'd figure out later.

"I know you're still in California and need to figure things out. Moving is a big deal; I don't want you to race out here and not even have a place to stay. However, we do need someone as soon as possible. If you could make it here before May, that would be great."

I told her I'd be there in one week.

With this deadline set, I knew I had to hustle. No more being a Californian; I was going to be a New Yorker, and no one was going to make this happen but me. 

That week was perhaps one of the most stressful of my life. I didn't stop moving, not even for one second. I put in the one week's notice at work (which my boss was completely gracious and supportive about. Thank you forever, Carl Fillichio) and began frantically looking for someone to take my room over at my apartment before rent was due (which was in three days), someone to buy my car (which was crucial as I had to use that money to put down the deposit on my New York apartment), and a place to live in New York. 

I bought a plane ticket for the following Monday, cementing my decision. Not finding a renter and a buyer wasn't an option--I HAD to get this done. 

After showing my car and room to countless inquirers, I was able to sell my car to a former coworker and lifelong friend and rent my room to someone I went to high school with. I found an apartment in Brooklyn with a few roommates, one of whom has two cats (which is very exciting for me). I'm still not sure how, but I did it. Everything worked out perfectly.

I said goodbye to as many people as I could. I was thrilled to leave California and to start my life, but quite heartbroken to leave certain people. However, I knew it was time to do this.

An emotional car ride with the best friends I have ever had brought me to LAX with my one-way ticket and my big red suitcase. I said goodbye, and I don't know if I will ever get the image of Millie's face right before I turned away out of my mind, but I had to go. 

I boarded the plane with a giant coat Millie had given me and an edible to ensure I wouldn't be conscious. Six hours later, I awoke to my future. 

More on my first week as a RESIDENT of New York later. Until next time...

Taylor

The Chronicles of a Fashion WOMAN: It Was Not, In Fact, The Final Entry


Hi Brainiacs,

Devout readers of Taylor's Brain may recognize this series, although when I first began writing it in 2016 it was under "The Chronicles of a Fashion Girl." Although I was legally a woman in 2016, I don't believe I really became one until May 4, 2017 (the day I decided to recover from anorexia). I was just a naive girl running around a concrete jungle and trying to make sense of it before I wasted away.

I wrote what I believed would be the final chronicle on August 13, 2016--the final day of my internship and my stay in New York City. I had no idea when I would be back and although I was hopeful, I wasn't 100% certain I would ever move here permanently (I've always been an optimist, but a realist first).

As luck (and an exhausting, seemingly never-ending amount of work) would have it, the bitch is back and here to stay. But I wouldn't feel right if I disappeared to live my new life without writing about it to share with whoever finds it to be interesting.

Over the next...however long I feel like it, I will be chronicling my time here in New York. My wild experiences on the subway, in night clubs, at work, in the fashion scene, and in recovery in a new environment (because that is something I'm still doing and will never abandon or forget).

Read if you care; I hope everyone will get at least a little something out of my journey.

Love Always,

Taylor

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Final Step of Recovery: Trust in Yourself


I always knew this day would come. In fact, I arranged my entire life around it. I worked the two jobs at once, I went to school full time. I did the internship and a made a promise to the City and to myself: I will come back.

This past year has easily been the hardest of my life (I clearly haven’t been through much). I came out of my internship and back into my senior year of college with every intention of going straight back to New York upon graduation. Of course, you can’t always plan things so definitively.

Life got in the way, which is a super vague and tactful way to say I was starving myself to death and I needed to stop before it was too late. Instead of moving to New York a few days after graduation like I had hoped, I had to dedicate the next year to recovering and becoming healthy again. This isn’t something that was decided by anyone but me—I knew I couldn’t go to New York until I was fully ready, and although I had no idea where I was going to start, I knew I needed to at least eat a little more.

Recovery is something that can’t be understood until it’s experienced, which is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Recovery is stripping back every single piece of you that you thought you knew (but it isn’t the real you: it’s the anorexic you) and teaching yourself to love what you see.

We all handle it differently. Some of us can’t quite see the end of the dark, dark tunnel that is recovery and so we quit. We relapse. And the cycle continues on, and on, and on. I recognized this when I started, and as hard as it was, I did not let myself slip back.

With this in mind, going to New York sounded terrifying.

I had to change my plans. Although New York has always been my dream (and the only place I’ve ever truly, truly felt at home), it was also the place where I got really sick. Of course, I had been on a two-year downward spiral into apathy and appetite abstinence, but New York sealed it in writing: I needed help.

Of course, I’m not blaming my mental illness on a city. However, it didn’t help that I was completely isolated from the people who knew I wasn’t naturally that skinny, walking everywhere I went, and eating less and less each day. I knew if I were to move to an anorexic wonderland like this when I had barely starting recovering, I would have been in trouble.

I made the hard decision and stayed. I took a job nearby to get me started in my career and I dedicated every single day to working out less and eating more (doesn’t that sound ridiculous?). It felt impossible. I couldn’t see an end.

About two months ago, I recovered. Of course, not entirely. I still have issues in regards to body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety. However, I recovered physically. I stopped feeling weak, faint, exhausted and overwhelmed by the hormones that were coming back to my body. My period finally normalized. My appetite felt human again.

I got hired as a fashion assistant at Harper’s Bazaar last week, a gift seemingly rewarded to me for recovering and doing it well. I am 13 months into recovery now and I feel extremely ready to do this.

Jumping back into life and re-adopting the person you were before your eating disorder is a difficult thing to accomplish. It’s hard to know which version of myself I should be, so I’ve decided to become a new one entirely.

I’m not the person before I was before anorexia, nor am I the person I was during it. I am a woman now, and I’m ready to get moving.

I’ve had a few people express concern about me moving to New York when I haven’t been recovered that long. Most people saw the weight I lost when I was there before and they’re concerned I might go back.

Of course, this is a possibility. It’s always a possibility. But recovery is something I had to choose. In fact, it’s still something I have to choose. I did not have to get better, and I did not have to stay better. That was purely me: my own will to live a happy and healthy life. I choose recovery every single day, and I can’t box myself out of life-changing opportunities for fear of what I might do wrong in the future.

I know I’ve messed up in the past. I’ve hurt myself what I thought was beyond repair, but I still managed to bounce back. I have hated my body and myself and I’ve wanted nothing more than to waste away. But I trust myself now.

On March 4, 2017 I chose recovery. I chose life. I chose to pursue what makes me happy, regardless of what my body looks or feels like. I promise to always choose recovery.


You have to have faith in yourself to stay well.