How a negative body image led to my eating disorder
For years, I didn’t feel good enough because I didn’t look like the celebrities on magazines. I would look in the mirror and then look back at the magazine. I would actually dread buying groceries because I knew what would taunt me as I unloaded my food items. My skin – not as smooth, clothes – not as stylish, body – not as thin. All I saw were differences. In my eyes, different meant bad.
When you don’t value yourself – you don’t take care of yourself. Think about it, do you protect your garbage? Worry about it, guard it? No, because trash doesn’t possess value.
I saw myself as less than, like trash, junk, a waste. I didn’t value myself, therefore, I didn’t take care of myself. This led to a dark season in my life. Shame became my garment of choice. Anger seethed through me. Depression sank over me. Food ruled me.
You might be asking, all this because I didn’t look like a magazine cover? Magazines and television represented only one part of the equation. I felt enormous pressure to be thin. Our society values thinness so much that the term thinspiration has been coined. There are tribes of individuals who aspire to the Thin Commandments, such commands include: thou shall not eat food without feeling guilty, what the scale says is the most important thing, and you can never be too thin (lies, lies, and more lies).
My Eating disorder:
I held onto these values. Gripped so tightly, believing that if I could achieve thinness – then, and only then, would I be good enough. When I couldn’t measure up and keep up (i.e. I would eat food), I felt like a failure. My identity became rooted in what I ate and how I looked.
Food was no longer something I consumed, food began to consume me. I went from restricting one meal, then two, then days would slip by with eating nothing. When I would eat, the food felt like bricks in my stomach. After I ate, my thoughts quickly turned to how could I get the food out of me.
I remember laying on the floor in the bathroom near the toilet in tears. Curled up in a ball, weeping because I couldn’t get myself to throw-up. Afterward, feeling double the defeat and thinking, I can’t even throw up right…what is wrong with me?
Eating disorders* don’t always stem from negative body images. But, mine did.
I wanted to be thin at any cost. I didn’t care about my health or mental well-being Thinness became my obsession. Morning, noon, and night thoughts of food, losing weight, and finally feeling good consumed me.
How I found Hope:
Recovery didn’t happen for me overnight. It rarely does. What I discovered through decades of prayer, hard work, counseling, and self-discovery is I am worthy. I am valuable. I am beautiful (this one is still hard to believe some days). Not because of my size, or make-up, or any other external thing – I am these qualities because that’s how God made me. Good news, this isn’t just how He made me – This is how he made you too. As I began to embrace this truth, the obsession became less and less. Some days the battle still rages, but now I have the tools to deal with the lies.
You are His masterpiece, His craftsmanship, His handiwork. Don’t be ashamed of how God made you. You may be bigger or smaller, taller or shorter, lighter or darker. I can assure you, your worth doesn’t hinge on your waist size. Your worth is deeply rooted in the fact you are made in God’s image.
Celebrate Him today by celebrating you!
Blessings to you,
*Eating disorders are a real thing. In fact, this is most deadly of all mental disorders. You don’t have to be emaciated to have an eating disorder. If you struggle with food, are obsessed with what you eat or how you look, reach out for help. Don’t go at this alone. There is hope – recovery is possible.