By Michelle Trotter
Photo Credit: Melba Farquar and Paul De Luna
I confess. I have a thing with food. I’m a foodie. My husband and I seek out the yummiest restaurants. We have a weekly date night where we frequent our favorite places or try out the latest and the greatest. But it’s more than that. I have a THING with food.
I’ve been a model for the last 30 years. I’m also the proud mother of a 10 year old girl and a 6 month old baby boy. At 44 years old, I feel so blessed to have had this little guy. I am currently working on losing the 65 pounds I gained during my pregnancy, weight that didn’t magically disappear once I gave birth to this angel. I intend to be a fit, fly mommy and wife. And I want to do so with all the grace in the world, loving my body at all stages and being careful not to fat shame myself, especially in front of my impressionable daughter.
I moved to NYC when I was 17 years old to pursue a career as a model after becoming a finalist in the Face of The 80’s modeling contest, held by Ford Agency. I was just a baby! I weighed 145 pounds at 5”11 and I remember the scout telling me that I needed to lose 15 pounds before I made my way to New York. I lost the weight pretty easily and so my career began.
But that was just the beginning of an endless battle with my weight. I was never thin enough for the industry I had chosen to be a part of, and it soon took a toll on my self esteem. I would go on castings and come back to the models’ apartment with Haagen Dazs to keep me company. Those pints of ice cream would make me feel good while I was eating them, but pretty quickly afterwards, I would feel lousy. I would beat myself up for not having self control. I quickly regained that 15 pounds and then some. I started getting sent home from jobs for being too ‘big”. Sometimes the stylists would cut the back of the garments and tape them or safety pin them with extra fabric so that we could get the shot. Other times another model that was also on set would do the shot, and I would sit there with a body filled with shame. It was a horrifying feeling. One agent told me, “Michelle, throw up, do whatever you have to do to get the weight off”. This dance of feeling not good enough, then binge eating to stuff the feelings down, then starving myself or taking diet supplement to lose the weight went on for too long.
One day my agents suggested I try plus size modeling. After the initial embarrassment of not being able to keep my stick thin physique, I agreed to try it. And so my new career as a plus size model began. Initially, I was very successful in my new career, making very good money. However, being a size 8, I was sometimes on the borderline between regular and plus size. I would work really hard, getting thinner in order to book those big hair campaigns, commercials and advertising bookings. But then I would overeat to satisfy my hunger and my plus size career.
Fast forward to my life after marrying the love of my life and starting a family. I saw a commercial with Monica Seles, the tennis pro, talking about BED. Binge Eating Disorder. Hmmm, what is this binge disorder she speaks of? This kind of rang true with me. Could it be that I had been suffering with this for years? I’d never heard of a black girl with an eating disorder. I never binged and purged, so I wasn’t bulimic. I just thought I was greedy and had no self-control. I knew that I would eat to stuff my emotions or to numb. But I’d had no idea that there was a name for it.
According to womenshealth.gov at least 4 million Americans suffer from BED. Symptoms include:
● Eating more quickly than usual during binge episodes
● Eating until they are uncomfortably full
● Eating when they are not hungry
● Eating alone because of embarrassment
● Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating
Yep, that pretty much summed up my food story. I was definitely dealing with an eating disorder. So now I try to recognize my triggers and slow down, asking myself if am I really hungry. If not, what am I longing for? I then try to fulfill those needs instead of stuffing my feelings down with food.
I pick something on my body, and I appreciate it. I may look in the mirror and say, I love my lips, or I love my hips or I am thankful for my amazing womb that carried my incredible children. Whatever it is, I appreciate the ish out of it! I know I have to love and appreciate it to make it thrive. Another practice that I love to do is write little reminders all over the house that say “I am enough.” I write it on mirrors in lipstick in hotels and on our bathroom mirror at home, much to the chagrin of my husband. He recently said to me, “Baby, you’re enough, you’re incredible, but enough is enough! You don’t have to write it on mirrors everywhere we are. I mean, Damn!” I don’t care what he says; on the mirror it stays! I have alarms on my phone, “❤❤I am enough❤❤,” so that I see it daily. I work out 4 to 5 times a week. I set that time aside for me because I am worth it. I put it in my schedule, the way I do a parent teacher conference or a doctor appointment for one of my children.
Food is meant to be enjoyed. Life should be lived to the fullest. So here I am, owning my stuff. I’m the heaviest I have ever been in my life, and I am loving myself, with all my fluff. I try not say hurtful things to myself or my family, and it’s working. I’m losing slowly. I’m loving on my family, and I am truly the happiest I’ve ever been!