Loving My Body Is More Challenging Than I Thought

Loving My Body Is More Challenging Than I Thought

Even after putting the years of disordered eating behind me, I still feel insecure about myself.
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“It feels like I’m hugging my mom!” I was in sixth grade when I was told that I have a mom-bod. (What’s wrong with being a mom and having a body anyway?) That’s when I looked down at my body and realized that my breasts have grown – but so did my stomach, my thighs, and my arms. My face was filled with acne, and my hair had grown curly and frizzy like never before.

There’s nothing worse than puberty and middle school – especially when you’re the only big girl with the full-blown hormone outrage amongst your friends. I hadn’t given too much consideration for my looks until then. I started picking at my skin, straightening my hair, and gave up the Frida Kahlo look in favor of trimming my eyebrows. But above all of my obsessions with beauty, my weight became my chief concern. In sixth grade, I developed a habit of disordered eating.

Disordered eating takes many forms. For me, it was extreme portion control and calorie restriction (you can read more about disordered eating here). I also paralleled my extreme diet with exercise, usually very heavy cardio. I was so obsessed that I would walk three miles on the stair-climber and look in the mirror immediately after to see if I got slimmer.

When food becomes your enemy, life cannot be more miserable because we’re supposed to eat! We have to nourish our bodies with energy and nutrients by responding to hunger. But I tried to avoid eating when I could. At school, where my mom couldn’t police my meals, I had a Yoplait yogurt for lunch. I remember sitting at the cafeteria table, waiting for my friends to finish their pizzas and burgers, because I had already devoured the cookies and soy milk that I sneaked from home.

My drastic weight loss kept me going. Even though I had horrible acne from malnutrition and constant fatigue, my friends were asking me how I lost so much weight. The attention felt great, but my knees were always aching from malnutrition. My lips were so pale that I looked ill without a chapstick. I was always irritable, but I preferred being irritable on an empty stomach than feeling full and having a bigger belly after eating a meal.

Working out was my mask. I claimed that I learned to love my body after taking up running, but I just loved the thin body that it gave me. It’s easy to love yourself when you look better. My advice is to feel comfortable in your own skin before trying to lose weight.

I confronted my weight obsession and disordered eating a few months ago – only because I hurt my foot. My being barred from running forced me to admit that I did not love myself; I just liked being skinny. Day and night, I would monitor whether my legs grew thinner or thicker. Having a full belly after dinner was enough to depress me.

“Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.” I would tell myself. I couldn’t even tolerate the small little pooch that grew in my lower belly from decreased physical activity. It’s ludicrous how I’ve degraded myself so much that I felt worthless with a slightly larger, less tight physique. The few months that should’ve been a time for healing my mind and body from strenuous exercise and diet regimes became time of self-torture and critique that refused to stop even for a minute.

Even now, I still fight with the fear of gaining weight. I know that I am more than how I look and that my family and friends love me for the way I am. But ultimately, it all comes down to self-satisfaction. To be honest, I’m still not comfortable in my own skin. I wish my thighs were thinner, my waist a little smaller, and my face a lot slimmer. I get scared when my belly and legs swell up from water retention during PMS. I can’t help but envy girls who remain thin though all they eat is junk food.

But I was born in this body; it’s all I have. Now, it seems silly to me that my life should be wasted measuring my worth to the amount of fat I have on my body. I no longer count my calories or heavily control my portions. Through intuitive eating and a plant-based diet, I am recovering from years of terrible relationship with my food.

Nevertheless, all it takes is a careless comment for me to fall into a pit of self-loathing. It’s a life-long journey, and I am still in recovery. I realized that self-love is a necessary, lifelong journey that does not happen overnight. Losing weight will not help you love yourself more either. If you don’t love yourself right now as you are, you never will no matter how fit, educated, beautiful, rich you become.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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To All Lawmakers, Keep Your Laws Off My Body

My body, my choice.

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This past week, Ohio and Alabama received a lot of attention in the media after bold decisions were made regarding abortion laws in these two states. Alabama has signed an extreme abortion ban into law which gives no exception for even rape or incest. Women and doctors could end up facing 99 years in prison for performing an abortion in this state. In most cases, rapists only serve about 6 years of jail time. This means that a woman could spend more time in jail for attempting to abort the fetus than the man who planted it inside of her. In Ohio, similar laws are being put in place that denies women from getting an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, that is only 5 weeks into the pregnancy, or one week late of a period. Most women do not even know they are pregnant at that time.

I originally was very hesitant to write this article. Not because I did not know what I thought about the issue, but rather because I was afraid what other people would think of me writing about this. I'm typically not one to post anything too political but there comes a time when something must be said.

When it comes to abortion laws, pro-life advocates often argue that the fetus could be the next Einstein or the person to cure cancer. However, the women who are going to be taking care of the child could have potentially done the same. Instead, they are often forgotten about and their lives are changed for good. There are so many women who will have to give up so much such as their education, career, and happiness as a result of the laws that are being put into place.

Furthermore, if a woman is not capable of taking care of a child at the time she gets pregnant, the child will end up being the one to suffer the most. If the woman has no option but to keep the baby, the baby has the potential of growing up in an unstable home where it will not have the resources it needs to live.

Pro-life advocates push for women to just give the child up for adoption, but that has its own set of problems. If the woman puts the baby up for adoption, there is a ginormous possibility that the child will live their entire life going in and out of our country's broken foster care system. Lawmakers should not be advocating for the protection of fetuses unless they are able to make sure the fetus will be able to grow up in a stable environment.

Putting laws to prevent abortion into place isn't going to stop abortions from happening. Instead, it is going to make women turn to hazardous practices that could end up with them harming themselves. Many people, including some pro-life advocates, have even admitted that the bills being put into place are too far.

The most amazing thing to me about the bills being signed into place is that the support for them is heavily reliant on men. It is very easy to jump behind supporting something that doesn't affect you. These men will never be able to experience what it is like to carry a child around for nine months and care for it after. That is why it makes absolutely no sense that they are able to tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies.

Being pro-choice is not necessarily being pro-abortion. It is being for women to have the freedom to do what they believe is best for themselves. A women's right to make her own choices should not be a conservative or democratic issue. It is a human issue. It shouldn't matter what the circumstances are. If a woman feels she is not ready for a child she should have the ability to do what is needed to be done. I hope that as a country we are able to take the necessary steps to prevent us from moving back in time. So to all lawmakers, keep your laws off of my body.

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