How to Feel Like Your Body Is Enough…Even When Society Is Telling You It’s Not
I spent a majority of my life losing or gaining weight. As women, we are sometimes told that we are too sensitive, too emotional, too much. Including our bodies.
I thought thin and attractive meant valuable - and I wanted to matter. At a young age, I developed a voice in the back of my head that told me to make myself smaller. And so I did. In a very unhealthy way, I altered the natural state of my body in order to be seen as acceptable.
At 11 years old, I started noticing that I didn’t fit the ideal. I remember sitting on the floor looking at the mirror in my mom’s bathroom, sucking my cheeks in to see if I could be beautiful.
At 13, I started feeling like I took up too much space and became hyperaware of my body.
At 15, I was looking up ‘thinspo’ on Tumblr and hiding tips about restricting calories under my bed. I had a perfectionistic personality and I thought I could be perfect at this too.
At 16, I was throwing up in the bathroom after meals and could lie without hesitation. I didn’t know who I was without my eating disorder anymore; it was my identity. Soon, it wasn’t about being thin anymore. I wanted to disappear.
At 17, I stopped eating almost entirely. My hair was falling out. I could count the bones down my back. My organs started shutting down and I was put in the hospital on risk for cardiac arrest. I had lost a majority of my friends and my family didn’t trust me. I spent four months in inpatient treatment.
At 18, I relapsed and went back to treatment. Life isn’t always linear.
At 19, I wanted to model in New York and relapsed again. It’s hard to stay healthy when you have a tape measure constantly being wrapped around your waist.
At 21, I finally started to let go of restricting because I felt like I was worth more. Hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. Simultaneously, what I am most proud of.
At 22, I could say I was in recovery and it wasn’t a lie.
I turn 28 next week. I've been in recovery for 6 full years. Hell yeah. My body may have changed but my worth never did.
Your mind is a powerful place. You become what you think. I thought I had control over something that ultimately controlled me.
Below are some thoughts that have helped me rewire my brain over the last decade.
Your body is your home.
I became so wrapped up in my jean size, the number on the scale, and the perceived control of managing what went into my body that I forgot what my body does for me. It has been the most difficult challenge to overcome how I view myself.
My body (when healthy) allows me to run, to write, to laugh with my friends, to fall in love. Once I was recovered I could finally feel something besides hungry.
When I started taking care of my body, I could feel those moments where life feels good. You know those moments where you love exactly where you are and who you're with. You remember the song that was playing because you replay the moment even years later, thinking: “I wish life always felt like that”.
I missed out on so many moments because I felt I wasn’t worthy of them, because I took up too much space.
Your body is your home. You have to take care of it - starting at the foundation. It’s okay to eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. If you eat too much one day, you still deserve to eat the next day.
Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking you don’t deserve to be treated kindly. If you choose to eat healthy, have it come from a place of balance instead of punishment. Take care of yourself so you can live a really great, wonderful life that is full of amazing memories.
People will always have opinions about you… but yours will be the only one that matters.
We spend the most time with ourselves. I can tell you from experience that it is really hard to enjoy life when there is a constant mean voice in the back of your head telling you that you aren’t enough. Don't believe everything you think.
But, what you think and how you feel about yourself is way more important than what anyone else says or thinks about you. In recent years, I have explored body positivity. I love it as a movement. I can’t always be on board with feeling positive about my body, it’s unrealistic for me, so I adopted body neutrality.
Sometimes I just think...nothing...about my body.
I don’t need to love it everyday. On days where it’s hard to be positive, I put on an oversized sweatshirt and choose to still respect my body for what it does for me. Some days are just going through the motions.
An unpopular opinion that should be popular: If it’s not your body, don’t comment on it.
Social media doesn’t determine the beauty standard.
There are so many beautiful people on Instagram. I’m drawn to fashion and confidence and the internet is a wonderful place to find inspiration. It’s also easy to fall down the rabbit hole of comparison.
You have to take social media with a grain of salt. Lighting, angles, poses, and filters can change a photo entirely. It’s hard to realize this in the moment, but keep reminding yourself that sometimes what we see is not reality.
I find myself being extra hard on myself the days that I see a photo of someone whose body resembles my old body. “Why can’t I be skinny like her?” Because, b, you're not 16 anymore, you’re 27. My genetics will never allow me to be that size and be healthy. And that's okay.
I'm at my best weight now because I'm enjoying my life.
There’s only one of everyone. How is there even a beauty standard at all? Other women are not your competition, and when you truly realize that you will find power in yourself and in each other.
And as far as 'likes', there isn't an amount that will make you feel good about yourself. The number won’t magically make you like yourself. Likes don’t matter. Did you personally like the picture you posted? Great. Don’t delete it.
The people who love you don’t love you for your size.
Literally though, your body is the least interesting thing about you. I promise you that the people who love you... do not love you for a number that shows your relation to gravity. Say that 3x right now so you remember.
Our human experience is limited, why waste any of your time worrying about being smaller? Live as big as you can. You deserve to take up space.
And on the days it feels hard, be kind to yourself, be kind to each other, and keep moving forward. >>