How My Mother Affected My Body Image

Like Mother, Like Daughter: How My Mom Unintentionally Affected My Body Image

"It's impossible to drown out the voice of someone you love."

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Something that I have struggled with for a long time and recently become more aware of is my troubled relationship with food and with my body. I have dealt with issues relating to body image for at least the past 5 years. Ever since I first became aware of my body in comparison to others, I have struggled to accept myself the way I am. I very rarely share these thoughts with other people and the few people that I have told only know small bits of the whole reality. I keep these feelings to myself for many reasons. Primarily, I feel as though I am not allowed to dislike my body because I am generally thin. I know that if I told my friends how I felt, they wouldn't take me seriously about it. But the reality is, anyone at any weight can dislike their body, and everyone is allowed to feel how they feel about themselves regardless of their appearance.

Part of my problem has to do with my mother. When she was my age, she was a fitness fanatic, and she grew up to become a personal trainer. I have always felt at odds with her when it comes to health, fitness, and especially body image. She makes sure I remember that when she graduated high school, she weighed only 106 pounds. I remember the day I was weighed at the nurse's office during my sophomore year of high school and I found out that I had reached 107 pounds. I felt like I could never be as good as her, and I would always just let her down by not living up to her standards. I felt so awful about myself, and that was only the beginning. I've gained a lot of weight since then. Just a few months ago, she came with me to my doctor's checkup appointment. The nurse weighed me and I was mortified to find out that I was 118 pounds. When the nurse left the room, my mother very obviously craned her neck to check the number on the scale. "118 pounds," she said, and it sounded like she'd given up on me right then and there. "Well, weight fluctuates," I said, a desperate attempt to make an excuse for myself. Last time I had a checkup appointment, I was 111. "By 7 pounds, though," she replied. I wanted to sink into the floor. Then, to make matters worse, she got up on the scale and weighed herself. "110 pounds," she said loud enough to make sure I would hear. I wished that I could just disappear. My mom and I have different body types and I'm a little bit taller than her, but that never mattered in her book. As far as she's concerned, we'll always be in direct competition.

I struggle a lot with food. I find it very difficult to cook and eat food around my mom. When she's not around, I take the chance to bake treats and eat whatever junk I can, but it only ends up making me feel terrible about myself later on. I know that I need to work on my eating habits. Even though I've never binged, purged, or starved myself, I now know that the absence of extreme eating disorders does not mean I have a perfect relationship with food. I eat a lot of sugar because it brings me comfort in the moment, but I always feel the worst afterward. My family has a genetic history of diabetes and I know that I should be careful even now, developing healthy habits early on. I don't know why I do it. Sometimes, I feel like I just do it to get back at my mom in some weird way. As much as I want to impress her, it also feels sort of freeing to defy her, even in secret. But I hate feeling her watching eyes on me no matter what I'm wearing, seeing her judging face as she searches every inch of my body, calculating how much weight I must've gained recently. I hate walking out of the kitchen with a plate of food and hearing her say, "you're going to eat all of that?" I absolutely hate knowing that the times she's expressed being the proudest of me directly correlate with the times I've been the skinniest. But it all hurts so much that I usually don't have the courage to admit it to myself.

She has said so many times that she only wants the best for me, that she just wants me to feel happy with myself. But she doesn't realize that everything she does to supposedly make me feel better just makes me feel much, much worse. My mom claims that she gained a lot of weight during her freshman year of college and really struggled during that time. She says that she doesn't want me to ever have to feel the way she did. I want to tell her that in the process of trying to prevent that from happening to me in the future, she's made me feel that exact way for years. I sometimes worry that I'm exaggerating my mom's actions and projecting off of her. Her voice just feels like the outward expression of the voice inside my head that tells me I'm not good enough. It's so much harder to ignore that voice when it's not just inside, but also outside and attached to the person you love most in the world. I am quite literally an extension of my mother, and she is an extension of my deepest insecurities. I never wanted her to be, but she is. And it's impossible to drown out the voice of someone you love. I can't disconnect from that part of her, so I simply have to learn to coexist with it. I don't know how to get past it, but I want to try.

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The Burning Of Notre Dame Has Actually Strengthened My Catholic Faith

Corinthians 5:17 says, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

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Every year, Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in the Christian faith. As the most sacred time of the year, those who believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins hold these days dear in our hearts. 2019's Palm Sunday, however, is now held in infamy. The very next day, the precious Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started to burn.

As the world now knows, the famed and historic Notre-Dame de Paris was spontaneously engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019. The cause has not yet been identified precisely but is most likely due to complications during the $6.8 million renovations the cathedral is currently under. Completed back in 1345, the nearly 800-year-old church has withstood the test of time relatively well.

Until now.

The modern world watched as one of the biggest treasures of the past burned away before our eyes, Twitter even erupted in an unprecedented coverage of this world-wide tragedy as many took to social media to pour their condolences and share memories of this French icon. Religion, race and personal beliefs aside, the world collectively grieved and lent support.

While this is truly a loss on a global scale, the blow comes as a particularly harsh one to the Catholic community after a particularly difficult season of Lent. From the Pope addressing allegations of sexual assault, to backlash over the controversial theatrical release of the film "Unplanned", this latest development seemed like a cruel joke in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. I myself felt affected by this fire hundred of thousand miles away in North Carolina. One of our most beloved holy churches was ebbing away in front of us and all God could do was watch.

However, despite all that, we must look forward.

Despite much of the church being reduced to ash, some of the priceless artifacts and objects that were hidden away in the cathedral have been able to survive the ordeal; such as the crown of thorns, numerous pieces of art, the rose windows, the altar cross shown above and the iconic bells of Notre Dame. Once news of this broke out, I was strengthed to my core knowing God was indeed there.

It seems like such an oxymoron to see such a tragedy as a sign of hope, yet the Bible itself is full of those. The 7 plagues that tormented Eygpt, the Great Flood, and even the death of Christ as examples.

As children of Christ, we are told at a very young age to never question his plan. He is all knowing and has a way of making everything fall into place. God sensed that Catholics were in the midst of a troubling time and brought us this opportunity of a new beginning. The burning taking place during Holy Week can also be taken as perfect timing.

The whole premise of this week revolves around the death of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate, yet miraculously returned three days later before joining Our Father in Heaven, the cathedral can very well do the same and return better than before.

It is a devastating loss but already we are seeing evidence of joyous aftermath. As I noted before, people from all walks of life are offering support and condolences to a faith they were scorning just a week prior. Priceless artifacts have miraculously been recovered and plans for rebuilding have already started. This is a sign of a new beginning, that God is backing us through it all.

Do not question His plan, just have faith. The rest will fall into place.

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How I Found My Voice Through Storytelling

"I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day."

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Storytelling is an art that is at the core of our humanity and it has been a passion of mine from a young age. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the narratives of my family. The practicality of my dad's voice rings in my ears when he shares the lessons he learned from my grandfather. I can still visualize the vivid tales conjured up by my grandmother, whose words had a magical essence that made them seem surreal. These distinct moments are like video clips that are ingrained in my memory to this day.

My parents and grandparents always took pride in sharing their stories with me, and I was eager to learn about the traditions of our family history. Growing up in this environment completely influenced the person that I am today. It had finally occurred to me when I was a little bit older that not everyone had the same relationship to their ancestral past that I did. Not everyone had insight of into the life shaping experiences that affected their loved ones. Not everyone knew their story.

I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I tried to imagine a life in which I didn't know my story or where I came from. Without this information, it was difficult for me to identify a purpose. From the perspective of my life, my story is attached to my drive to succeed. These components of my identity are entwined like fibers of the common thread that ties humanity together. I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day.

To the people who haven't discovered where they want to go in life or how they plan on getting there, start writing your story. Even if you have no where to start, just pick up the pen and start writing about where you envision your future. Create your purpose, manifest your ideas, and you will begin to become your narrative. Above all, be prepared to use your voice because the best way to add meaning to your work is to share it with others.

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