I think a lot of women struggle with self image. I definitely fall into this category. I remember my armpit fat being pinched when I was around 9 or 10. I remember literally crying at the pool because I was embarrassed to get out of the water when the cool kids showed up around that same age. I remember comments being made by my doctors, family members, kids at school, and everyone in between. I have very little memory of a time in my life when I wasn't acutely aware of every imperfection on my body. Living a life hiding in public is emotionally exhausting.
Chronic asthma and steroids and puberty created an identity crisis for me. I was SUPPOSED to grow up beautiful and thin, like Kelly Kapowski. As a little girl... before the steroids and puberty, I was prissy. I was petite. I felt pretty. Something changed around third grade. First, my face got puffy. Then, everything got "puffy." I remember my mom asking my pediatrician about my weight gain, and the pediatrician said, it was the food I was eating. At 9 years old, I already felt "destined" to be heavy. From 4th grade on, I was already categorizing foods as good/bad... sneaking the "bad" food to eat in private... and feeling tremendous shame.
Fast forward to middle school, I leaned out quite a bit. I was athletic. I played every sport in middle school and worked hard in the summers and off-season. I also was still very self-conscious. I never felt like I looked like my friends. I always compared my body composition with theirs, and I CONSTANTLY complained about my physique to them. They were still wearing clothes from Limited Too/ the kids' section at department stores, and I was already in a 3/5 in the Juniors section. I had broader shoulders and boobs, and they were still little girls. I HATED it. I was also reading everything I could find about weight loss and dieting. I was mostly just doing crash diets every now and then, but things would eventually escalate in high school.
In high school, my weight was at the high end of the "healthy" range on the BMI chart. I was very aware of that. I HATED getting on the scale at the doctor's office. I HATED shopping for clothes. I HATED looking at pictures of myself. However, my self-hatred came to a head when a guy at school bullied me to tears. I had missed a basketball practice my sophomore year, and had to run bleachers to make up my absence. This same guy yells out in the gym, "Dana's going to break a hole in the gym floor." The same guy taunted me about my weight and my insecurities constantly after that. Thank goodness he was a senior and graduated, but the damage was done. After that, the intensity of my diet restrictions peaked. I stopped eating normally for a long time after that. For the entirety of my junior year of high school I would drink a Slim Fast shake and was SO HUNGRY after athletics that I would shovel whatever I could find in my mom's elementary classroom into my mouth by the handful. One day my mom said, "You're just undoing all of the dieting you're doing by eating that junk." She was right. In my mind, it was time to be more restrictive. By my senior year, I was under 130 lbs, my lowest weight ever. The compliments of my appearance just reinforced that restriction was good. Eating was bad.
I went to college, gained 25 lbs in aboutttttt 6 months, met my husband at 155 lbs, and for the first time ever, felt like someone could love me the way that I was. The weird thing was... the shame... the damage ... was done, and my poor husband has been such a trooper through all of my body issues. The other weird thing is that I am at my heaviest now. I have had 2 c-sections. I gained 60 lbs (roughly) with each pregnancy. I have stretch marks. I have cellulite. My body looks so much "worse" than it did back in high school. But, I feel so much more loved, so much less shame, so much more at peace with myself NOW than I ever did then. There are some things that still bother me... the damage to my self-esteem has obviously taken a toll. I don't dress or undress in front of him. I can't let go of my own insecurities to fully enjoy our life together, and so I am on a mission to beat these issues, lose my baby weight, and get a tummy tuck. I want to be free from the thoughts and habits that have held me down for most of my life. I hope that my journey can help some other people out there!