Saturday, October 5, 2013

Body Image

I weigh 140 pounds.

I know what you’re thinking. Did she just say that? Why would she share something that 99% of women would never, ever, ever say?

Well, why do we make it such a huge deal?

I’m a curvy girl. I wear size 11 jeans, and a size 8 dress. I hit 100 pounds in 5th grade, much before everyone else. I’m not big by any means, but I’m certainly not tiny. I’m active and I don’t eat a ton of junk food. My daily routine is fueled by coffee (yes, with WHOLE milk) or tea, I eat when I’m hungry, I shoot for whole foods and I don’t obsess over calories.

It’s called “being healthy”.

I struggle, from time to time, about not being where I want to be, but I try to remind myself that God has made this vessel in His image, and it’s beautiful. It’s immensely selfish how we choose to focus so intensely on one aspect of our being. There is so much more to the human person than the physical appearance.

Back in middle school, when I was a hard-core, 20-hour-a-week dancer, I viewed my body very differently.

“I’m fat.”

The phrase was thrown around so nonchalantly in the dance studio by my twiggy, ballerina friends.

“Look at my flabby stomach.” “I need to lay off the sweets.”

For 20+ hours a week, I was exposed to this negativity. What was I, a mere twelve-year-old girl, supposed to think when a dance instructor put belts around our tummies to help us “suck in”?

Fat. Fat. Fat.

I became obsessed with slimming down. Breakfast? Unheard of. Lunch? Applesauce and a tortilla, which I usually ended up throwing away. Dinner? Celery, a couple slices of deli ham and a tortilla, usually eaten at dance. No snacking, no desserts, and one soda a day for energy. Sweatpants and baggy sweatshirts became my best friends.

This went on for months. My eating habits became secretive. My skin grew pale, my hair lost its shine, and my energy level plummeted. I was running on a couple hundred calories and caffeine. When I felt I had eaten too much, I’d throw up. On top of that, I was burning thousands of calories dancing everyday.

During my freshman year, I distinctly remember overhearing some upperclassman girls in my show choir talk about their jean sizes at a competition.

“I’m all the way up to a size 3!” “You think you’re big? I’m a 5!”

This self-degradation went on for a long time, while a shy, size 11 freshman (myself) sat in the corner feeling more overweight and disgusting by the minute.

One day I decided to go extreme and not eat anything for a couple days. I remember feeling even more dizzy and spaced out than usual during class. At lunch, it took all the self control I could muster to avoid eating a bagel. A good friend of mine asked me why I wasn’t eating, and I shared my plan to shed the extra pounds. She could tell what I had gotten myself into was dangerous, and got help from a guidance counselor and my parents. Had it not been for her, who knows where I would have ended up. I was fortunate enough to be pulled out (kicking and screaming) of this destructive lifestyle by people who loved me.

I learned to start seeing myself how God sees me: as a beautiful daughter of the risen King.

I re-learned how good it felt to chow down on a burger every now and again.

(And boy I’m glad I did!)

I learned, through observing some amazing, REAL people, that your BMI does not determine your awesomeness. Some of the most incredible people I know aren’t “slim”, but the sheer beauty of their whole, happy selves is what I see. Not the “extra pounds”.

Finally, I learned that how we talk about ourselves greatly impacts the children around us. We must train ourselves to be positive in our speech so our young ones grow up to know their great worth. Do you want your negativity to be the reason a wonderful, little girl starts to think she’s not beautiful?

And besides, how messed up is our society to consider this:

...more attractive than this?

Nowadays, I'm happy, healthy and I take good care of my body. No, I’m not “thin”, by society’s standards (most of us aren’t). But you know what? My doctor says I’m perfectly fine. I think I’m perfectly fine. And most important of all, my Creator thinks I’m INFINITELY better than “perfectly fine”. There’s so much more to me than my size.

So friends, eat food, take care of yourself, and be confident, but remember that you are eternally loved, no matter what the number is on the scale.

1 comment:

  1. Thank God for that good friend who could see what you were doing to yourself! At the pediatric clinic where I work, we see too many girls who are anorexic. Sometimes we even hear mothers who are worried about their daughter's weight to the point of obsessive. How does that make a girl feel when her own mother criticizes her physical appearance? It's a messed up world we live in. And, you are a very good writer! :)