The Cold Does Bother Me, Actually | Teen Ink

The Cold Does Bother Me, Actually

July 5, 2014
By Helena.of.Karatha DIAMOND, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Helena.of.Karatha DIAMOND, Saint Paul, Minnesota
79 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You're a great wizard, Harry."
"Not as good as you."
"Me?! Books! And cleverness! There are more important things, Harry--friendship, and bravery, and--oh, Harry, just be careful."

While most of the attention focused on “Let It Go,” the iconic song at the heart of Disney’s hot latest release, “Frozen,” has been directed at the Tony Award-winning singer Idina Menzel, who voices the character of Elsa and therefore sings “Let It Go” in the movie, not a little of it has accrued to Demi Lovato, the newly grown-up Disney starlet who sings “Let It Go” for “Frozen’s” credits. Disney signed Lovato for a single edition of the song precisely because she embodies the self-empowerment that the power ballad is all about: after public battles with depression and an eating disorder, brought on in part by her need to fit the role society has wanted her to play, Lovato has come out as a proponent of self-acceptance. That is exactly the message that “Let It Go” conveys, and, for those of us who—like Lovato—have struggled with our relationships with food, our bodies, and our place in society, it is indeed tremendously empowering to hear one of our own singing such lyrics as “I don’t care what they’re going to say” and “The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”

However, for those of us bearing the long-term effects of disordered eating, the line at the end of each chorus feels a bit off. Elsa’s acceptance of her power to create winter weather ends with the assertion that “The cold never bothered me anyway.” While that makes sense, given the specific context of “Let It Go” within the plot of “Frozen,” such a feeling could not be further from my daily reality, or indeed from the daily reality of many who have survived their own battles with eating disorders.

One of the long-term effects of extended periods of disordered eating is that, given limited calories and thus limited amounts of energy, the body stops performing “less essential” functions, such as menstruating properly and circulating blood all the way out to the extremities. If and when one manages to get one’s eating habits back into a healthy pattern—a transition more emotional and psychological than physical, and often requiring therapy—the body cannot simply resume functioning as it had prior to the eating disorder. Menstruation is the result of a complex set of chemical balances; once these have been disturbed, it may take months of weight gain, patience, and even medication to get them back in check.

Circulation is even more difficult. After a long period of disuse, arteries, capillaries, and veins shrink permanently and become unprepared to handle normal amounts of blood flow, even if the body is taking in enough calories for normal blood flow to become feasible. Thus, an eating disorder survivor will forever experience the world in a distinctly post-eating disorder way, never again enjoying the freedom of circulation experienced by the rest of the population.

Blood circulation is one of the main ways that the human body keeps warm in cold weather. Without an adequate circulatory system, a person’s near-bloodless fingers and toes quickly become cold whenever the temperature becomes even a bit chilly. Coupled with a decreased percentage of body fat, people in the throes of an eating disorder experience cold in a much more extreme way than their healthy counterparts. Even years later, however, and even with the addition of normal layers of fat, the insufficient circulatory system of a post-eating disorder individual will leave her (or him) feeling uncomfortably cold in even moderately cool weather.

I am one such eating disorder survivor. Since shortly after I began depriving myself of sufficient nutrition nearly four years ago, I have been compelled to dress in a new way if I am to have any hope of comfort. This new style involves layering sweater upon sweater even while those around me go about in T-shirts; I must pull out my parka shortly after my friends and family have begun wearing sweatshirts. It is ironic that those of us who cause ourselves physical discomfort and harm for the sake of appearing thinner are forced to wear ever more bulky clothing to make up for the new deficiencies in our ability to regulate our own temperature, thus making ourselves appear bigger rather than smaller. However, this post-eating disorder style of dress is not only ironic; it is also frequently misunderstood. My new conception of when it is appropriate to wear a coat has inspired endless jokes in my not-entirely-sympathetic family.

The self-acceptance and the rejection of outside expectations contained within “Let It Go” are so cathartic for me that I cried upon hearing the song for the first time. But as I sat in the movie theater, double-layered parka still zipped up; icy, blue-tipped fingers still inside my specially imported, extra warm mittens; hat still upon my head, I could not say with Elsa that “The cold never bothered me anyway.”

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jul. 24 2014 at 10:12 pm
WordWarrior BRONZE, Springboro, Ohio
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams."
-The Eleventh Doctor

THIS IS SO GOOD. I especially love your title.

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