I have strong feelings about this issue of body image and self worth, because I’ve always had strong feelings about this issue.
I was four the first time I asked my mom when I could start losing weight.
I grew up with a mother who grew up in the Twiggy era and has spent much of her life unsure if she was good enough or pretty enough because she was never sure that she was thin enough.
And I think a lot of us where raised with those similar experiences.
As a high schooler, I was a bitter combination of beginning anorexia and bulimia. I would dance, go to school, run at track practice then head to play rehearsal until 10 at night and attempt to do this on a daily basis on one piece of peanut butter toast, an apple, and a hollowed out bagel with cream cheese on half. Then on weekends, or evenings I was home early enough, I would attempt to run on our treadmill until I could throw up.
By the grace of God I was never successful at this. Turns out, I was a terrible bulimic because I hardly had any gag reflex and could never successfully make myself throw up.
But that didn’t stop me from trying.
Nor did it stop me from running to the farthest Safeway I could find, in my freshman year of college, to buy laxatives. Then turn and run the same distance home to take half a box. The result was so awfully uncomfortable and dramatic that I swore off of laxatives. Still, I fought the feelings of hating the food within me and desperately wanting to be thin enough to achieve my dreams.
How my weight and dreams came to correlate with one another is complicated. As it is for each one of us. I think it’s part the family you live in, part society and culture and part how you respond to those things internally.
Even still, after all of these years of health and working so hard to be more than my body, more than my weight, it still smarts when I hear my friend with a 5 week old say she only has nine pounds left to lose when I, with a 13 week old, still have double that.
That old rush of embarrassment of my big appetite and a deep need to lose weight flashed across my mind and through my body as I felt my heart sink. Then I felt my heart hold my mind accountable for all of the work I’ve done over the years to be healthy and accountable for all of the words I say here. So instead of crying in the shower, I ate half of the bar I was emotionally eating and put in a little time on the elliptical.
If my goal is to be the healthiest, most engaging, kind, laughing woman I can be then I made the right choices today. Though, in truth, the feelings of not losing this baby weight fast enough are still smoldering a little.
The battle for emotional security in a world steeping with images of taut post pregnancy tummies is a battle fought daily by most of us. Some days I lose the battle and walk around in silent shame because my clothes still don’t fit, but today I won one for us.
Go out, be more than your weight, more than your body and win your battles today too!
Or at least put up a hell of a fight trying.
For more information on eating disorders please go to the National Eating Disorders Association and if you have an eating disorder yourself, tell someone. Telling someone saved me from falling into patterns that I would have never recovered from. Tell someone and get help.