If you were to ask anyone who knows me to describe me, confident is surely one of the adjectives that’ll pop up. And I guess from the outside looking in, they aren’t technically wrong. I’m lucky enough to hide a majority of my body insecurities under a fashion forward outfit and humor. Confidence wasn’t a word that existed in my vocabulary however for a long time. I used fashion as a way to disguise myself, to trick my reflection into thinking that I loved the person staring back at me, and I got pretty good at it. A journey to self acceptance and self-love was just that for me though, a journey. A long, grueling one at that. I’ve always been a huge advocate for loving and accepting our bodies but even as a soldier in this body posi war I didn’t always believe my own message. As I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize my own body a year after moving in with Alvaro, I felt awful. I wish I could tell you that I loved my curves. That I looked in the mirror day in and day out and loved what I saw. And even though I can say with full confidence that a majority of my issues are behind me, even today at my heaviest. That however wasn’t always the case, in a battle with my PCOS, infertility treatments and 4 miscarriages, one of which was in the second trimester, my body had changed and stretched in ways that I was not used to. The depressed episodes that followed fueled by rage and in times disgust only led me deeper and deeper in to that rabbit hole. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, and I would binge, feel immediately guilty and punish myself for the days to follow only to fall back into the same pattern. I tried countless fad diets, and unhealthy ways of dropping weight quickly only to gain it back and then some. I toyed with the thought of plastic surgery, anything that would make me feel like my old “normal” self again. I never acknowledged where this destructive relationship with food was coming from though. That I was so upset at my body not being able to do the one thing it thought was “meant to do” that I had internalized my feelings of abhor and they presented themselves as late night drives to get fast food. That I used food as a weapon against myself. Because, who cared right? My body wasn’t doing me any favors, so why should I? I saw my body completely transform and I didn’t have the adequate resources, tools, or knowledge to control or quell it. I felt like I was no longer in control of my own body. I felt like a prisoner stuck in a body I didn’t love or even recognize anymore.
Journeys to self-love aren’t always beautiful. They’re not always green juice, açaí bowls, perfectly edited hiking pictures, fitness hashtags, and instagram stories about my cute gym outfit with matching resistance bands. Sometimes, they’re sitting on the bathroom floor after you’ve weighed yourself for the 6th time that day and crying because you don’t understand why your body won’t just go back to “normal”. Sometimes, they’re having to come up with an excuse as to why you can’t go out with your friends because your body issues and anxiety have left you mentally exhausted and unprepared to deal with human interaction. Because you couldn’t find an outfit to properly disguise your body this night, so you couldn’t bring yourself to hang out with the people you love the most.
I’d like to think I live an extremely privileged life. I have a career in a field that I love, a wonderful husband, a supportive family and still when a relative stranger on twitter called me fat and said, they didn’t understand how anyone could ever love someone who looked like me, in an argument this past summer. I felt all those old, isolating, destructive feelings float back in. In that instant, I became that same ashamed girl that I had worked so hard to suppress. That however was my a-ha moment—I was on vacation with my amazing family having the best time and here I was worried about something as minuscule as some extra weight and comments from a stranger who probably had her own body issues to work through. I walked down the metropolitan streets of DF, hand in hand with my husband, and I could feel my legs beneath me and I thought to myself, “I can feel how strong and sturdy they are. My whole body is working, it’s strong. I love that feeling, and I give thanks for it. No more nitpicking at my body. No more letting people make me feel like a second class human being for looking anything other than “perfect”. This is my body, and perfection will never exist.” It was in that moment where I realized that I should celebrate having curves. I decided to embrace it and own it. That was a big shift not only in my psyche but just my attitude and the way I treated myself.
At no point in my life had I truly loved my body. At no point have I been 100% content with it, not trying to change it in some way. At 25 years old and as a body positive activist, this is something I still struggle with every single day. I often ask myself, when will I be completely happy with my body? Will it happen overnight? Will it happen when I fit into an XS? Will it happen when the scale reads a certain number? But the truth is I don’t have an answer. No one has the answer. As much as society wants to act like they do with all the diet fads, tummy teas, and get slim quick scams, they don’t. They don’t have an answer for something that is internal more than it is external. Even at my “healthiest” or smallest size, I thought terrible things about myself. Even when people would praise my figure, I hated how full my breast and thighs were. So the answer doesn’t lie within my body, it lies within my mind. I don’t consider my journey to be special or any different than millions of women struggling with the same things I am. We know that 50% of women are on a diet at any given time. We know that we develop body issues as young as 5 years old. We’re aware of the strain the media and perfectly curated images floating around social media place on women of every size, shape and creed. We know that we’re all afraid of talking about our true numbers on the scale sometimes. Even as more representation of different body types have arisen in the media and on the runway, we still struggle. I am kind. I am intelligent. I am loving. I am creative. I am a million things but I am not fat. Fat is not me. I have fat, yes, as does every human being walking this earth, but I am not fat. And never again will I refer to myself in such a derogatory manner again. I am so much more than my body, and my issues with it. And so are you. Push out those negative thoughts the next time you have them. Next time one of those thoughts such as “too fat” or “too skinny” or “too tall” or “too short” pop up in your brain stop yourself and remind yourself that you too are much more than this vessel, your dress size, an arbitrary number on a scale. I promise when you stop using those words against yourself and instead replace it with words that actually describe the kind of human being you are, your world will change. Your more than your BMI number, you’re more than a number on a scale, you’re more than a clothing size, extra fat or lack thereof. You are beautiful. From every angle. In every lighting. Every day.