With Caitlin’s book Operation Beautiful coming out, I felt it was time to share my personal experience with body image. I’ll start by saying that I’ve always felt insecure about the way I look. And it’s so sad that even little girls feel this way. Since I was in elementary school, I remember disliking my thick hair and how it wouldn’t braid like the other little girls. My chubby thighs that popped out of my ballet tights. My crooked teeth. I thought everyone else was so much prettier than me.
Once I reached 8th grade I learned I could manipulate the way I look. I ate less, lost weight, and straightened my hair daily. I wore my retainer religiously to correct my overbite. I piled on eyeliner, though looking back at old pictures, I looked like a raccoon. :) I felt prettier, which was good temporarily, but eventually things got out of control. I lost too much weight and it turned from a “healthy lifestyle” to an eating disorder. I would compare it to climbing a mountain- once you reach the top, there’s nowhere to go except for down. And it’s a slippery slope. After years of struggle, I finally hit rock bottom when I had my first seizure. At the time, it was presumed to be caused my low blood sugar, which really scared me. My eating disorder was beginning to have a serious visible effect on my health. [ Obviously it had already taken its toll on my body, but this was a total wake up call. ] Only a few months later, I fully recovered from my destructive eating behaviors and reached a healthy weight for my height.
And now for some confessions…
- My weight yo-yoed for a bit before leveling off at a number at which I feel comfortable. Right now I am at the optimum weight for me height, and I am perfectly happy.
- I have stretch marks on my legs from some of the medications I take. I don’t like them, but I know that if someone comments on them, I have a damn good comeback. Feel free to use it yourself, even if you don’t take corticosteroids. I won’t tell.
- My hair is still puffy and thick, but I know how to manage it. A messy bun is a great fix when you’re not in the mood to straighten!
- My teeth aren’t crooked anymore.
My advice to you is this: embrace your flaws, and if you can’t do that, picture yourself as somebody else looking at you. Would you really ever comment on another person’s appearance to their face? I sure hope not. Most people don’t really care what you look like because they’re worried about their own appearance! When you’re at the pool, are you staring at other girls’ bodies? Probably not, unless you’re an adolescent boy. You’re focused on your own body and whether you should have skipped that last set of crunches this morning or splurged on that muffin. To be honest, nobody really cares. The people who love you will love you for what’s inside. Those who don’t… they’re not worth your time.