You may have noticed I've been posting lately about body image and self esteem and some people that know me personally may wonder where the heck this came from. Others may be confused if sometimes I post about something that isn't about body image or self esteem so I thought an explanation is appropriate.
Originally I started this blog because I knew I would have a blog link on my coaching site (still have yet to get that up and running), but wasn't sure what exactly I would write about. After a few months I feel like I got my groove and the writing became easier. But the more I wrote about body image and self esteem, coupled with doing the Dove Self Esteem Workshops, I felt a true calling to the issue. Writing about it also forced me to face my own issues and begin healing them. I've have never felt such a strong calling to an issue such as this and I intend to do my best to reach one girl or woman at a time. I'm just beginning in this journey and there aren't enough hours in the day for me to read, research and talk to others about this. I try my hardest to detach myself from the feelings that these girls have about negative body image, low self esteem and/or the relentless quest for perfection and not internalize them, but it breaks my heart to pieces to meet yet another girl who is smart, beautiful and full of potential who doesn't see herself for how beautiful her soul is. I can see the pain in her eyes, the shame, the embarrassment and sometimes the denial of her issues. How? Because I have been there.
I have been that girl that growing up everyone said, “Oh, you're so pretty!” I grew up thinking that's what I was supposed to be: Pretty. As if it was who I was. Along with that came “thin” and “perfect”. I did my best to be all of those and eventually added “smart” to the list. Years went by as I tried to be all of these things. The worse things went in my personal life, the harder I tried to be pretty, thin, smart and perfect. Unconsciously, I knew I could control these things when I couldn't control other people (enter codependency) so the cycle continued and continued.
I often say metaphorically that I “stood out on the ledge and looked out on anorexia” as if it called out to me. I may have dipped my toe in to check the water but never fully jumped in. I never fully categorized myself with other girls that have suffered from this disease because well, to be honest, I never considered myself “too think”. Although at that time when I was sick, people said I looked less than 100 pounds. And there was as sick part of me that smiled. But looking back, it was worse than I thought. I was completely obsessed with food and exercise and what size I could fit into. I remember laying in bed at night and could feel my heart racing. I was so hungry I would just pray that I would fall asleep so I wouldn't feel the hunger anymore. I would be so tired on the treadmill I thought my legs would collapse from under me. I kept telling myself one more mile equals 100 more calories burned. I reveled in the fact that my hip bones jutted out along with my collar bone. The thinner I got the more powerful I felt. Luckily for me, it stopped before it got any worse. I grew tired of starving and my mom saw me after not having seen me in months. Her mouth fell open and she said something about me being so thin. We went to lunch and she commeneted about how little I was eating. I knew I had to stop, but it didn't for another few months. Bottom line is that regardless if I was diagnosed with an eating disorder or not, call it disordered eating and exercise, whatever you may, it's all dangerous.
Now I know what some people might be thinking: “Oh, poor you. The pretty girl that grew up in the suburbs, had it all and was smart too. How could you even complain about anything.” Which brings me to another point…
Girls like me, I believe, are afraid to talk about their body image issues. Instead, it's easier for us to come together to obsess over calories, diets and negative self talk. But if we tell it to the outside world there is a sense of shame that accompanies it. The world frowns upon “the perfect girl” who worries about her weight, or anything else for that matter. It's as if we're committing the cardinal sin of womanhood by not loving ourselves fully, because everything looks so good on the outside.
My intention is not to sound like a narcissist, I by no means think or have ever thought I was perfect (far be it from that), but in my teens and 20's the positive feedback I would get from being thin (and I gave it to others as well) and attractive further fueled my unrelentless desire for perfection. My point, and perhaps my mission is to be a voice for women like myself.
The thin girls who for many years have either hated their bodies or weren't happy and couldn't exactly figure out why. The girls that are ashamed to talk about it because they think people will look down on them because they seemingly “have it all”. To the people that say, “How dare you complain or feel bad about what you have, you skinny bitch” I say it's okay to flip them off and take care of yourself. Let's figure it out and fix it. I can't stand by and see the next generation of girls, my soon-to-be daughter included, obsessed with food, fitness and perfection. It's careless, wasteful, and sometimes deadly. I'm not sitting around anymore just being brokenhearted about it.
So there's my explanation.