Started from the bottom, now we're here
I was maybe 10 or eleven, I was buying jeans because I was leaving the patterned legging phase of my pre-adolescence. I tried on a pair and found them fitting in the legs but tight in the top. This is a problem that would never leave me as a short, SHORT individual with an ample posterior. I remember my mother analyzing me as I stepped out and she lifted my shirt to check the waist band, which my pudgy baby belly saucily protruded over. "Ooh, we need to put you on a diet," she said. And whether she was joking or not, that was my earliest realization that my body was unacceptable. The saucy pudgy belly would continue to plague me, and when I complained about it, I was told "It's just baby fat, it will go away!" It never did, and it never occurred to me that I was completely FINE, and so was my belly. All I knew was I didn't look like my sisters, or magazines, or movie stars and the comparisons, like acne, would only multiply once puberty came. I was 13 when I put myself on my first restriction diet. I was 14 the first time I started spitting my food into a napkin instead of eating it. I was 15 the first time I forced myself to throw up after losing control and over-indulging in "bad food". Fast forward over a decade, and I was 27. It was 7pm and I was supposed to meet a friend visiting from out of town at 6:30. I stared at myself in the outfit I'd picked out, held hostage by what I saw. I wore this same outfit last week and it looked good, but now I was bloated and it did NOT look the way I remembered. My lower belly pooched, my upper belly spilled over, my arms looked enormous and the fabric was ridged from where it was stretched too tight over my bottom. There would be a group of people there, including my ex-boyfriend. The fear of them seeing me like this washed over me like a wave and I began to sweat as my heart raced. I could not bear to put another outfit on, instead I ripped it off and quickly put on sweat pants and an over-sized T shirt. I was too ashamed to even text her I wasn't coming for fear she'd ask why. This is the first time I realized that I might have deeper issues than just a little insecurity. My hatred of my body and idolization of beauty started when I was too young to understand it at all, and was now weaved into every part of my life, into my thoughts, actions, decisions, feelings, and relationships. The work to undo what has been done by social influences, comments from well-meaning but thoughtless people, and media I have soaked myself in is daunting, but it is worthy. The work is life-long, and it is hard. Every layer I peel back, I find another in it's place. But the goal of loving myself as God loves me is within my reach and I won't stop until I wholeheartedly feel it, and hopefully help others like me along the way. Life is too short to hate yourself or not see your absolutely immense worth. Fight the good fight, we are not alone.