Two words that haunt me to this day: Freshman 15. We all know what it is, and we've all dealt with body image issues. When you combine the first year of college, the stress that comes with it, the freedom, the new people and the new food that comes with it... something happens and in the blink of an eye your body changes.
When I came home for the first time since starting college, I was told "how have you lost weight. It's your first year?" And I was flattered, truly. I've grown up chubby my whole life. Not to toot my own horn, but I was an adorable baby. (I'm on the left, my older sister Lauren is next to me).
But I always had "baby fat." And then when I wasn't a baby anymore, I just had "fat," or I was "chubby." I was never the thin girl, the muscley girl, the girl who lost weight... I just maintained it. But when I came to college, I tried so hard to better myself. This was before the actual work hit me. But I went home, and I went to visit a friend and she said "you look amazing. Who loses weight in their first year?" and I smiled. I said thank you and kept my head held high for the remaining of the day.
Being complimented boosts self-esteem, but then it came to a point where I had to keep losing weight. I could not fathom myself gaining any more weight. So when I went back to school, I put myself on a strict limit. The little princess in the photograph above restricted herself to carrots and cups of water, with the occasional bite of a cookie.
But what I now know about the human body is that calories = energy = fuel to keep going. I found myself falling behind in class and loosing more and more energy every time I went to the gym. I liked when I felt hungry, and there was a poem I related to called Relapse. And when I saw it, I broke down in tears because I became afraid of what the consequences of an eating disorder were, mind you, I never had one. My doctor mentioned body dysmorphia, but I am getting better at being kinder to myself.
It will be a long, strenuous, uphill batter. But I pledge allegiance to my body. To never do wrong by it. To look in the mirror and instead of pointing out flaws, to say that anything is possible.
I promise to not focus on the scale and numbers too much.
I pledge to eat healthy, not to eat scarcely.
Most importantly, I pledge to stand amongst all the people who have, and like myself, are fighting this battle of self-esteem and self-image.
This is me now, and my body is my body. I'm not 100% happy with it, but this is me for now. And that is what the world is getting.