I used to hate what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I weighed myself 10-20 times a day, and I would punish myself for whatever number appeared. I dreaded eating, yet I was consumed with thoughts about food all day long.
Before I continue, I know that I am late for “Eating-Disorder Awareness Week.” Life happened, my best laid plans got derailed, but now here I am. I wanted to still share this because how we define beauty is a topic that is worth talking about all year.
Dancing was my outlet growing up, my favorite way to express myself and release stress. The more serious I got about it though, the more I began to spiral. I equated any skills I struggled with in dance to the extra inches I carried around my waist. I started counting calories, which quickly turned into challenging myself to eat less and less. I mistook the feeling of hunger as the feeling of victory.
Attention, compliments, those were a rush. Addiction was setting in. People started to notice the weight I was losing. At first I thought, “YES! Finally, they see me as beautiful.” Then it hit me. The tapestry of unhealthy thoughts started weaving in my brain. If they see me as beautiful now, that must mean I was ugly before. Weighing myself constantly was no longer enough. I started making new goals, like how I wanted to be able to fit my hands loosely around my upper thighs.
I lost who I was by trying to be someone else, except that someone else was made up. I wanted to be like the photo-shopped images in magazines, or the women on TV.
Chasing perfection is like chasing a shadow, there is no substance or realness to grasp.
I hurt myself and I hurt my family. I lied to my concerned parents. If they forced me to eat I would force myself to vomit and throw my lunch away at school. It got so bad, that my amazing dance teacher told me I wasn’t allowed back to her class. She told me to come back when I had made my health a priority. She gets it.
I had lost so much weight that my whole body was crying out for help. I remember sitting in front of the mirror before homecoming and crying because my hair wouldn’t hold a simple up-do. Half of my hair had fallen out. This often happened in clumps, and usually when I had to lie about it as people looked on with concern or disgust. I was near breaking point, and my entire family was hurting with me. An eating disorder takes a toll on your body, lying to cover one up takes a toll on your soul. I left everything I knew, including the state I lived in, to receive treatment.
Now, I am a mom, a twin-mom to be exact. I would be lying if I said that I never struggled with embracing my postpartum body. This is a struggle worth combating. I refuse to let an eating disorder ever beat me again. I have two daughters to think about, and they are always watching. They watch me as I look in the mirror. They watch me if I try to hide from being in pictures. They watch how I approach food and exercise.
I can tell my daughters that they are beautiful, but if I don’t also LIVE what it’s like to embrace my body, my words are meaningless.
You see, I am raising twin girls in a high-pressure and super self-centric society. If that wasn’t difficult enough, people already compare my daughters to each other constantly. I get asked stuff like “Which one is the more obedient one?” or “Which one is the smarter one?” I loathe those questions. I firmly believe that having a twin means having a best friend, not a built-in comparison.
In our home, we do not count calories or strictly diet. We try to eat whole and clean foods, but “Gluten-free,” “Keto,” or other dietary terminology are not used. I want Lani and Libby to learn how to eat to fuel their bodies, and that’s it. We enjoy being active and being outdoors as a family, fun and fitness can coexist.
I also tell them affirmations every single morning as soon as they wake up. I started this the day they were born, and I have no plans of ever stopping. I tell them,
“You are loved from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes.
You are never too much or too little,
You are always enough.”
They are “only” 20 months old, but my husband and I are being very intentional about establishing positive body image NOW. It is never too early to tell your children they are wonderfully made. Building habits takes time.
You see, I know the biggest change is not going to be for them. It all starts with me. I have to know that I am enough to show them that they are enough. I have to remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that the Bible has more to say about my worth than the world does.
Fellow Mamas, I know that those stretch marks or extra pounds are difficult to embrace. “Mom-Bod” is not celebrated in our culture, and that can be crushing to the spirit. Please do not hide behind the camera or avoid looking in the mirror. Little eyes are watching you. Those little eyes that your body changed to grow and carry. Speak affirmations to yourself and to them. Avoid playing the comparison game.
Perfect example: You may have thought for a moment that I look “skinny for a twin mom.” Maybe you thought about discounting what I have to say because surely I don’t “get it.” Well, I am “skinny” because my body failed to carry my twins to term. They came two months early, and nearly died as a result. I lost the weight because the anxiety of a 52 day NICU stay and the guilt of not carrying them to term literally ate me alive. It wasn’t healthy, and I am not proud.
I would give anything to have had extra baby-weight to lose. You never know what someone else’s full story or situation is, so why try and line yourself up with them?
You are unique, you are beautiful, and the way you see yourself MATTERS.
The world may not celebrate the bodies of mothers, but let’s change that. Let’s start by celebrating YOU!
Don’t know where to start? Tell me one thing you love about yourself. I’ll help you take it from there!