The main reason that I started my blog was to help people. Whether one person, or a thousand, I wanted my blog to make a difference to someone. I’ve been inspired by the transparency and honesty of many bloggers and writers that I have read. Writers that have shared their struggles, their pain, and their past in the hopes that it will encourage others to do the same. I strongly believe that the world is a more beautiful place when we’re honest. When we show our humanness, when we admit our flaws. It lets others know that it’s ok to struggle. It validates that other people are feeling what you are feeling. I always knew that I should write this, but something held me back. I have had body issues for my entire life, and statistics tell me that I’m not alone. Everyone can struggle with body esteem issues, no matter what size you are. There are so many girls and women who struggle with body issues. Everyone has a story, here’s mine…
Growing up, I was a slightly overweight child. I was bullied almost constantly for my weight, whether “joking” or not. Most of this bullying came from people that were supposed to love me. Many people do not realize just how badly their words can affect someone. Words mean more than you can imagine to some people. If nothing else, I hope this post encourages you to treat your daughter/sister/mother/friend in a kinder way.
Looking back at pictures of my childhood I cringe, I was an ugly child (in everyone else’s eyes.) I was overweight, had too round glasses, and was pretty awkward. My parents divorced when I was 7 and my childhood was hard for me. I had to move all of my belongings and my life to switch places every 2 weeks. Every time I felt like I had a home, it was time to leave again. This developed into me feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, something that I still struggle with now. I actually have few memories of my childhood. I guess that can be a blessing and a bad thing. However, I remember every time I was teased for being fat. When I was 13 years old and was asked “Joy, you’re looking thinner, is it the shirt?” (I probably weighed around 110-115 at this time.) I was made fun of for eating. Every comment left a scar.
As a result, I always felt like I was fat. Not only did the fat affect how people viewed me, but I also felt like some treated me as if I was not worthy of friendship or love because of the way I looked. I was teased a lot at home and made fun of. Let me just say this: it is never ok to make fun of someone for their weight, whether you think they are over or underweight. I remember dieting at 11 years old, and getting down to a weight of 103. I was so proud of myself, but still was called fat. I have never weighed more than 145 pounds in my life, yet I felt like I was horribly overweight because I was told so often that I was fat.
Once I grew into my 5′ 8 frame, the comments changed. I started to be called skinny. The comments would be “when did you get skinny?” They still hurt. I would look in the mirror and I did not see skinny. I saw ugly. I saw fat that wouldn’t go away. I saw an ugly nose and a fat stomach and just pure ugly. Ugly in every way. I didn’t love myself. I have struggled with unhealthy eating habits. I have eaten til my stomach hurt. I have tried to only eat 1 meal a day. I have gained weight from eating too much, I have lost too much weight by eating too little. I have felt guilty for eating more than a little bit of food in a whole day. I have always struggled with having a healthy relationship with food. This blog has helped me to treat my body with the respect it deserves and to eat better. I’ve told my husband that if he wasn’t around, I’d be eating mac and cheese and frozen pizza. It’s true. I rarely like cooking a meal just for me, I feel like I don’t deserve it.
I remember when I got my first “real job.” I was wearing jeans and someone noticed that they were way too big on me. I didn’t think much of it. They asked me what size they were and I looked and I was wearing a size 11 jeans. I also had a size 13 pair at home. I thought that that was my size. I had never bought really nice jeans, and was told that American Eagle was a good place to go. I remember trying on a size 8 in the dressing room and them being too big. I thought there was some mistake. I tried on a size 6 and decided to buy them. The next week I realized that they were too big. I went back and bought a size 4. A few days later, I realized they were too big. I went back and tried on a size 2, not believing or understanding when they fit perfectly. I was so confused. A size 2 is small right? Then why do I think I’m fat? My mind couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t understand why I was seemingly so small but felt like I was so overweight.
I have been a size 2 since I was 16. I wear a size 0 in some brands, and a size 4 in others. Yet mostly, I’m a 2. I usually wear size extra small or small tops. I realize that those are small sizes. Yet my brain doesn’t. In my mind, it doesn’t matter that I wore a size 2 dress to my rehearsal dinner, I still wondered if I looked fat. It doesn’t matter that I wear an extra small shirt, I still wonder if I look overweight. I weigh around 125-130 pounds, but avoid weighing myself. It has led to unhealthy behavior. I am more in tune with how my body feels than how much it weighs. I know when my body feels good, and when it’s at a happy weight. I don’t let the scale rule my life anymore.
I only see these flaws in myself seemingly. I have seen people of all shapes, sizes, and heights, and saw something beautiful about every single one. I would think to myself that a certain feature or characteristic they had was so beautiful. I find beauty in those around me. But I can’t allow myself the same. If I look in the mirror and decide that I’m pretty, a few minutes later I’ll feel ugly again. I’ll catch a sideways glance in the mirror at my nose that I have hated, or think that my outfit makes me look overweight. I just can’t seem to cut myself slack. It actually feels wrong to feel beautiful. I feel like I’m lying to myself if I decide that I’m skinny or beautiful. It just can’t be true. The voices always come back to haunt me, to tell me that I’m fat and everyone thinks so.
2015 is a new year, and body image is something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. I’ve decided that this is the year that I break the bad habits. I am so tired of hating myself. I’m tired of how it has hurt me and held me back in so many areas of my life. I don’t want to think my husband is lying when he tells me I’m beautiful. I don’t want to tell him that he can’t take pictures of me, when I love taking pictures of him wherever we go. I don’t want to feel the constant worry and shame of wondering what others think of me.
In highschool, I was almost completely withdrawn. I had very few friends. I am mostly like this still. I felt that people would only be annoyed by being around me. So I spared them the trouble of my presence and kept to myself. I still struggle in social and family situations. I’m better as an outsider than trying to feel like I belong or am wanted. I love making other people feel special and giving them compliments, but I just can’t accept them when it’s me on the receiving end. I’m pretty sure I’ve asked my husband about 47 times today if he thinks I’m stupid for writing this post. He can’t understand why I ask him if he thinks I’m fat, if he thinks I’m ugly, if he thinks I’m stupid. His answer is always no. He loves me for me, something that I struggle to accept and comprehend. I have always felt just not good enough.
You may be wondering if I sound narcissistic. I realize that there are more important things in the world that I should think about, instead of myself. I’ve ignored this problem for years. But lately I’ve come to realize how much it is negatively impacting my life. In order to live my life to the fullest both for myself and others, I need to try to overcome this view of self. I have lost friendships over this problem. I have missed out on opportunities because of this poor view of myself. It has held me back in so many ways. It has caused me so much anxiety on a daily basis. In fact, I almost didn’t start my blog because of my view of self. I told myself that I was stupid and ugly and no one would want to read what I had to say. Almost 10,000 people have come to my blog this month so far. That may not be a lot, but it shows me that some people care and can benefit from what I have to offer. I want to share recipes that inspire people to live a healthier life. I want to share my wisdom and things that I have learned from years of experience. I want to pour out my heart in hopes that it helps one person.
You may recognize this picture as the one that I had as my About Me picture in the sidebar when I first started blogging. Taking pictures of just me can be really hard. My sweet fiance (now husband) took a ton of pictures of me that day. What do you see when you look at this picture? Sometimes I honestly wonder what people think when they look at me. When I look, I see a fake smile, a nose I’ve never liked, and flabby arms.
This picture was taken shortly before the one above. I was so nervous and felt stupid, and just started crying. I hated myself, hated the way I looked in pictures. I was convinced that there was no way that I would like any picture that he took. I didn’t. I picked in my mind what was the least horrible and used it for my blog, but I never felt pretty.
A few weeks later, Robbie set up a photoshoot backdrop so that we could try again. He knew how much I wanted a decent picture for my blog. He was so sweet and set everything up and was so patient. He is an angel for being so patient with me. I hated almost every picture. Especially the one above. Another goal I have is to post more pictures that I don’t like of me. After taking a series of pictures of the above top, I asked Robbie why he let me take pictures when I looked so fat in that shirt. He had no idea what I was talking about. I felt so ugly.
This is a picture that he took when we first started dating. I hated it, but he loved it. He printed it off and put it on his fridge, it was one of his favorites. He loved this picture of “his girl.” My goal is to look at pictures like this and not cringe. To allow myself to think that I could be beautiful.
I also haven’t worn a bathing suit in about 6 years. I can’t even remember the last time I owned one. I hated how I looked in this picture at the beach last summer, I was so self conscious. I’m not setting my goals too high, but one year soon I hope to be able to wear a bathing suit and not feel ugly. I love swimming and miss it, I will swim one day with my husband.
I have always been very self conscious about always wearing makeup. When I was 13, I became obsessed with makeup. It was one of the only times in which I felt sort of pretty. I enjoyed experimenting with tons of eye colors, techniques, and looks. That is why today I own over 400 eye shadows, more than 50 blushes, and thousands of dollars worth of makeup. But it still didn’t make me feel pretty. I am proud to say that I am feeling more confident wearing no makeup some days. Lately I have gone out with no makeup or just mascara quite often, something that a few years ago I would have never ever considered. I still love putting on makeup and feeling pretty, but part of my healing process has been looking at myself without makeup and seeing that girl too, and realizing that I don’t always need a full face of makeup to be pretty.
I’m writing this to all the girls that struggle with the same thing that I do. You’re not alone. It doesn’t matter what size you are or how much you weigh, you can still struggle. I’m also writing this to hold myself accountable. I am making a conscious effort to change this year. I’ve always wanted to. I deserve to be happy, I deserve to feel beautiful. I am so tired of this obstacle that is holding me back. I refuse to let it dictate the rest of my life. I will love myself. I will accept who I am. The voices in the mirror will not be right. It won’t be easy, but I’m trying. I will try to love more and hate less. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll inspire someone to do the same.