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Body Image

August 25, 2011

I realized, recently, that I got fat because I hate myself.
That was a powerful, painful thing to realize.

It started early, noticing that the girls around me were thinner than I, and then various people in my life making comments about my size. The strangest part of this, though, is that although I wasn’t the thinnest among my friends and classmates, I wasn’t actually overweight. I was healthy and the ideal weight for my height!
Unfortunately, the sum of my experiences leading to puberty, my hyper-sensitivity, and the near-constant barrage of negative comments from those around me and the media led me to despise my physical appearance. And begin experimenting with eating disorders.
It hurts to get into the details of it, and I’m lucky that I didn’t get in too deeply. I’m unlucky, though, that I am also an emotional eater. In a matter of about two years, I went from a healthy weight to twenty pounds overweight. Since then, about the last five years, I’ve packed on another fifty pounds. Thankfully, despite the documented difficulties that heavier mothers face when losing baby weight, I have miraculously managed to lose almost fifteen of those seventy pounds that I gained since high school.
With the birth of my second son, I have, for the first time as an adult, found true love and appreciation for my body as it is. I have carried and delivered two children. I have nourished them with my body. I have so much more strength than I even know. My stretch marks and chub are something to be proud of, badges of honor.
This does not mean that I’m interested in bearing them for the world to see. (in case anyone was worried.) I’ve finally learned that hating myself is a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. When I get depressed about how big I am, I eat. When I get angry, I eat. I’m done. Hating yourself sucks. I don’t want my children to have the same hang-ups about their bodies. I want them to be healthy and love themselves. The best place to learn that is from me.
I’m making some changes to be healthier. While I’ve learned to love and appreciate my body (come on, I’ve made people), I don’t like it. It does not reflect well who I am. I’ve gone on some pretty significant walks this week, and even though my feet ache and my calves are still cramping, I feel great about it.
Friends, teach your children that our bodies are not to be despised. Being healthy, mind, body, and soul, is far more important than a number on a scale. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in life…I think it would have saved me a lot of heartache. I hope it’s one I’m able to impart to my children as soon as they become aware of such things.

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