When I was in Jr. High, I stopped eating. I pushed food around on my plate and made excuses for why it wasn’t consumed. Maybe it was to prove that I could do it – that I had control over something in my life. A boy that I liked asked another girl to a school dance. And deep down, I knew it was somehow my fault. If I were prettier, skinnier, funnier, etc. he would have picked me.
It was a mental thing mostly, and very confusing. My fear was that I would be exposed; that everyone would see my flaws and recognize me as the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. However, what I really wanted was for someone to notice me.
It didn’t last long. Eventually I convinced myself to eat again, but I still hated the image of myself that was reflected in the mirror. I have survived by surrounding myself with people who see the good in me, even when I can’t see it myself. My life is filled with people who remind me of the beauty that exists within – and even outside – of me.
I think of the thirteen-year-old me and all the things I would tell her now. I would tell her that the shape of her spirit is not defined by the shape of her body – that her worth is not marked by a body mass index or numbers on a scale. I wish I could tell her that in time these things are easier to believe, but to be honest these demons are still chasing me.
Despite how far I have come, there is still a thirteen year old version of myself just beneath the surface. She whispers to me every time I undress. She scoffs as I put on makeup to cover my flaws. She mocks me when I eat a candy bar for breakfast. (To be fair, I should be mocked for that last one!)
I have realized something lately – it is not flesh or muscle that make up the shape of a person. It is words. And the words I have been using to define myself lately are not very flattering. I have been letting the thirteen-year-old version of myself speak louder than the truth. The truth is that fat is not a feeling. In the words of another blogger,
Contrary to what we are led to believe,
‘I feel fat’ doesn’t describe what’s at the source.
So let’s ban the word from our emotional inventory
And let’s start to talk about what’s really going on.
Let’s get into the real conversation
About how we use our bodies to measure what’s wrong.
Let’s stop using our mass index to determine our worth.
Let’s banish the term from our heart’s vernacular
And let’s use the full extent of our vocabulary to get down to our truth.
And that truth begins by erasing all the words that have torn me apart. And building a new world founded on the words “I am beautiful.”