This Is Me Eating Hugs
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
“Okay, okay, just another more, my tongue needs it—my tongue? Not my tongue. Something needs it. I need to keep filling. But not my stomach, not my throat, those are clogged. It’s the heart, it’s the soul, not the body” (This is Me Eating Hugs).
Have you ever felt like what you’re trying to fill while anxiously eating is more than your stomach? And you want more and more, even though you are not even hungry?
Well, I have been there too, and still am sometimes. My name is Isabella Gómez Girón, and I am a Colombian artist based in NYC. I hold a BFA in Acting and a Minor in Psychology from NYU. I participated in Et Alia Theatre’s online series called This Is Me Eating. . . , an experimental online series where each participant filled in the blank to describe what they were metaphorically eating as a way to explore the relationship between food, our body, and our image. I wrote This Is Me Eating Hugs toward the beginning of the pandemic when one of my fears was that I—being completely alone in NYC—would fall back into bad habits with food, as it would become my only comfort in that period of isolation. I was afraid my desire for overeating and my negative thoughts about my body image would start to control me. Writing this short experimental film helped me to channel those feelings out of my brain, allowing me to trust that I loved myself enough to not overeat all the time as a way to solve all my emotional turmoil.
I have always been a food lover, but I have also been obsessed with having “less extra skin.” I grew up dancing ballet, and as someone with a big bottom and hips, I felt like I would never be able to dance as beautifully as the extremely skinny ballerinas. Looking graceful while dancing, I thought, meant nothing would move when I jumped. After hours of practice, I would get home exhausted, but I would not allow myself a full dinner.
Years passed and I moved to NYC to pursue acting, and my relationship with food became even more intricate. I officially started a relationship with emotional eating. The change of language, culture, friends, and household was extremely tough, and brownies, waffles, and cheese were my way of feeling loved, my way of feeling hugged. But sometimes I would feel so isolated or just anxious and stressed that I would eat more than my stomach could handle—to the point where it would hurt to breathe. I would be in pain and I would still keep grabbing more and more food.
“It’s like my hand stops being controlled by me and it just moves from the bag to my lips, from the bag to my lips. . . My tongue ignores the signals from my aching stomach.”
Even at parties, what kept me calm was the snack table. For many years in the past, I hadn’t really gone crazy eating lots of Oreos in one night for many days in a row—plus, at these parties and reunions they were free—and I overindulged. I gained a lot of weight that first semester, and when I got back home to see my high school friends, I felt ashamed of my body just because I didn’t fit society’s idea of a “hot” and pretty body.
Emotional eating to the point of pain continued to be part of my life, but not as constant, and I also learned how to exercise in a healthier way. Since then, food has always been this beautiful blessing, but sometimes I feel that all of a sudden it betrays me, or I guess I betray myself and lose control, to the point that I cause myself mental and physical pain. When I saw Et Alia Theatre’s initiative, it inspired me to finally put into words what I hadn’t really shared with anyone before. My head still goes into this back-and-forth pattern:
“Love the curve, the lingering skin. Despise the curve, the lingering skin. It’s like the weather, some days I am shining and other days I am locked under the rain in my bathroom calculating the difference between yesterday and today, between the day before yesterday and yesterday, between…”
No matter how many loved ones say, “‘It’s beautiful, it’s human,’ I want to go ‘Tell me again.’ ‘It’s beautiful, it’s human.’ ‘Again?’ ‘It’s…’”
We have to love ourselves first, and that sounds simple—perhaps as “just a saying”—but it is true! It takes courage and work to do so, and it doesn’t happen all in one day. And the days where one feels loved by one’s own self prove that embarking on that journey is worth it and priceless.
“There will always be new blocks in the way, but now I know smiles, hugs, and kisses can live in arepas, patacon, and maracuyas in a healthy way as well. And there are more days where that lingering skin is not so much of an issue. Some days. I am working on it [wink].”
I want my love relationship with food to have respect, not manipulation—not a love where we need each other, where we fill voids, but a love that brings joy, that celebrates, that teaches me, that travels with me, and accompanies me, and that sometimes I get too much of but never to the point where we become a threat for each other. It’s okay to be comforted by food, but it’s also important to learn how to hug yourself as well.
Our relationship with food and our body are relationships like others in our life; we have to take care of them, we have to work them out, and we can have arguments, but we also have to seek forgiveness and compassion. I know sometimes one negative comment from someone you care about can feel like you are months back on your path toward a healthier relationship with your image, but no, it’s just a weird road bump. You are still walking forward. If you watch my short and read this, I aspire to make you feel less alone in your journey, to realize that more people than you think struggle with this, but also to remind you that your own journey is unique. You are the one who can speak for yourself, and no one can tell you how it feels to live in your body. Your feelings and experiences are valid, valuable, and real, and at the same time, you are not alone.
To watch the short film This Is Me Eating Hugs, click here. For upcoming projects, or if you would like to collaborate, I invite you to follow me on social media! Find me on Instagram at @isabellagomezg and on Facebook at @GomezGironIsabella.