I looked into my bedroom mirror, eyes locked in on my belly. “Maybe once I get boobs my tummy will look smaller,” I thought to myself. I was 10 years old. My eating disorder had just started earlier that year and body image was already horrible.
Just a couple of years later, I was in Abercrombie and Fitch shopping for jeans with my mom. I had my first panic attack because I fit into a bigger size than I previously wore. I had to buy the children’s size 16 slims because I was in the top 90th percentile for height and the bottom range for BMI– all my shorter friends were wearing children’s size 12, and I decided I was fat.
Fast forward to now, years into recovery. I still have fat days. I still compare myself to thinner people and sometimes I wish I could change my body. This doesn’t mean I have thrown away my recovery. In fact, it shows exactly the opposite: despite the negative body image I encounter most of the time, I choose to take care of my body anyway. I eat intuitively, exercise when I feel like it, and get enough sleep to fuel my days. Ed tells me I’m fat, and I tell him to shut up.
Sometimes, it’s hard to look past the reflection we see in the mirror and love ourselves regardless of how “fat” we are. I’ll admit, I struggle with body image most days and have found myself engaging in negative self-talk because of my reflection. However, I have learned to appreciate my body for all the amazing things it does for me each and every day– none of which has any relation to my size or shape.
If you have grown up with a negative body image like me, there is hope. No, I don’t always love my reflection, but I do love my body! When you move past the ideal of loving the body you see in the mirror and focus on loving the person instead, you will find peace. And once you have made peace with yourself, the power you bestowed on body image will begin to trickle away.
You are more than “fat” or “thin”, your body is completely worthy of love and respect regardless of your opinion about it, and you deserve a life far more meaningful than anything the mirror can provide. Step away from the mirror and into the bliss of genuine self-love.