Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing you another guest post to go along with this week’s series focusing on body confidence and acceptance. This post was written by my friend Amanda over at Notes from a Newlywed. She is such a sweet blogger and person, and I’m so glad to call her a friend in real life as well! She’s just so cool, down-to-earth and hilarious, and I know you guys will love her. So here we go!
I’ve struggled with body image since I was a teenager, as soon as pressure to look a certain way invaded my school. But my story is not one of being overweight. In fact, almost my whole life, it was the complete opposite.
I come from a family of Swedes. All my relatives are tall and thin. They eat lean fish and fresh veggies for almost every meal. It’s in my DNA, you could say. I never paid much attention to my body size or shape till junior high when I wanted to start fitting in and being one of the “cool kids.” And that is the exact time the teasing and name-calling started.
As many of my girlfriends started getting curves and growing out of their awkward bodies, I noticed boys liked their figures. They were filled out and pretty. I never hit that phase.
I pretty much kept the same lanky body all the way from age 12 to 26. At some point in there, I got a booty, but that was literally the only place that seemed to grow. I was stuck in an otherwise too-small body for over a decade. My mother lovingly called me “petite,” “small framed” and “thin.” If only those were the words I heard at school. They weren’t.
Instead, I was called “too skinny,” “anorexic,” “beanpole,” “stick,” “gross” and many other phrases that I have since blocked out of my memory because they were too hurtful. I remember that at one point, when I was “dating” a boy in school and we would walk down the hallways, people called us Ten. Because from behind, that’s what we looked like. I was the 1 and he was the 0.
I was the Calista Flockhart of small-town northern Indiana. Oh yeah, I was called that too.
At lunchtime, after I finished my meal, my classmates would ask if I was going to throw up later. They would ask what it’s like to be anorexic. They would tell me to eat something. They would ask what’s wrong with me.
It’s no shocker that I was developing a very warped view of my body and quickly became desperate for the teasing to stop. I asked my mom to take me to the doctor to discuss my weight so I could find a way to gain more. At that visit, the doctor told me that I was on the very bottom end of the “healthy” range for my age and height. Still normal, but barely. He recommended eating more high-protein foods, especially since I was active (I was in cheerleading, tennis, track and dance).
Instead of following that advice, I took it to an unhealthy place. Out of desperation to gain weight, I developed very poor eating habits. I pleaded with my mom to make chicken, and I would always find all the extra fat and eat it, hoping that by eating more fat I would become fat. I gorged on junk food. Twinkies and Dorito’s became my best friends. And I wanted nothing to do with veggies.
But still, I did not gain a single pound. Which only made me feel worse. The teasing continued, but my habits were awful. I tried to tune out the voices telling me I wasn’t good enough, but that’s much easier said than done for a vulnerable teenage girl. There was absolutely nothing I could do to convince my schoolmates that I didn’t have an eating disorder, and nothing I could do to make my body look the way I wanted it to.
Flash forward to my mid-20s. For years, I continued to eat poorly because I knew that I could. It wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t care. Sometime around age 26 or 27, I noticed that the pants I had been able to wear for literally 10 years fit a little more snug than they used to. Shirts were a little tighter than they once were. Then, my favorite jeans from high school would no longer even budge above my hips.
From age 14 to 26, I hovered around 108 pounds. Now, with my newfound clothing issue, I figured something was happening. My metabolism was finally slowing down and age was catching up to me. I weighed myself, and sure enough, the first two numbers on the scale were 1s. I thought it was a fluke at first – I mean, I’ve been 108 for years! It just must be the burrito I ate for lunch.
It wasn’t. And the pounds kept coming on. Now, at age 29 and (still) just shy of 5’5, my scale says 125. I was alarmed for awhile. I mean, I knew very well that I wasn’t becoming fat, but going 10+ years without gaining a single pound, then all of a sudden gaining it quickly, was scary. I was worried that if I kept gaining at this rate, sooner than later I would be huge.
But, after I got over the shock of my scale reading something above 108, I realized I was really just rounding out. I was finally at a healthy weight. My doctors were thrilled. I felt less self-conscious about being a bean pole and actually started to feel really good about myself again. For the first time in a long time, or maybe ever, I felt normal.
Still, that voice was nagging at me. And I knew that to maintain this now-healthy weight, I needed to finally change my eating habits. I’m still trying to kick junk food (it’s soo good!), make better choices, meal plan and even exercise. Not for others, but for me. This body that God has given me should be treated with respect. I did enough harm to it, and now that my husband and I are thinking about babies, I know that I need to learn better habits for my own future and as an example to my future children.
I now have a valid reason to hold myself accountable to what I eat.
My waist is still small, but my curves are poppin’ (j/k, I couldn’t help that). I do have some junk in the trunk, my chest is still pretty much non-existent, my face is rounder, and I even have a little belly that now flops over my pants when I sit. And know what? I don’t even care.
Because finally, I know that I am more than a number or a label. 108, 125 or 200; “too skinny” or bootylicious but not busty, I am me, and that is good enough.
I guess my point is that the grass is always greener. And I really hope that some day, we can all just stop worrying about everyone else and instead focus on ourselves and be the best person that we each can be. Healthy and happy no matter what the scale says or people call us. And instead of campaigns like “Zero is not a size” or “Big is beautiful,” we can just tell each other that we are all beautiful, big or small.