Health & Happiness

Before you write the words “Eat a Sandwich”…

I was walking through Albertson’s in college, with my bag of quarters that I’d usually set aside for a mid-week grocery trip (college life), and an older woman from Georgia said loudly as she walked past me, “My oh MY they sure do make them THIN here.” The starving college student with an extremely high metabolism in me cringed.
My whole I’ve been thin (enter tiny cricket playing tiny sad violin here). That’s everyone’s dream right? Every magazine article seems to have a weight loss tip on the front cover. “Lose 2 sizes!” “Her fab fit diet!” “Get skinny now!” It’s everywhere. When those goals don’t apply to you, it is apparent how unhealthy those messages really are: you were made too big, you need to be smaller. How unhealthy, how disturbing.

Throwback Thursday to my junior high photos and you will see a happy face but a tortured girl. I was once told they would “pin me to the wall and force feed me chocolate.” Girls I spent time with were the most painful voices, “Did you eat all your lunch? Or did you throw it all up.” I am an overly nice person, accommodating, I used to say “sorry” for everything. I dislike being in people’s way, I just wanted to not eat alone in the cafeteria. I wish someone shook me & told me their opinions were garbage, spewed from jealousy & their own insecurities.

I was asked to sign a very cute guy’s yearbook & he said to his friend after “Look, I got the anorexic girl to sign my yearbook!”

Let me be clear, I have never battled an eating disorder, but I have battled a society disorder. The word “too” is used far too often. I didn’t realize how dangerous the language used towards me was, until I went to an entirely different high school than any one from my middle school. The first few months were a social detox that I didn’t know I needed. I spent time with former friends to “catch up” & the same comments were shoved in my face within seconds of hugging each other. I am grateful for the strength to move on.

Track & Field, oh my saving grace. Four years of Varsity Track & becoming one of the school’s top high jumpers (long & triple jump too) gave me many positive things: self confidence, athletic confidence, identity amongst peers, authentic friendship & support, endorphins that took away the anxiety disorder I didn’t know I had. I didn’t have to explain to anyone why I was thin, I ran track. They just knew I was an athlete.

I still tried to eat too much ice cream to gain weight, it never worked. Over eating will only ever leave me with a stomach ache & a ruined evening. Just like under eating, it’s unhealthy & it’s not what your body needs. Listen to your body, don’t listen to them.

Fast forward 10 years and I’ve had two amazingly beautiful babies (8.5 lbs. & 9.5 lbs. respectively). It’s not all that normal to hang out with primarily guys like I did in Track & High School, so I have been re-introduced to the somewhat toxic world of women. I have some really wonderful friends, but I feel like many of us are frogs in a pot of boiling water. We got in, everything’s fine. Someone felt jealous & made a comment “I hate you, you’re so skinny!”, turned up the heat. Someone is comparing themselves to others, turn up the heat. Joking comments “because she knows I’m teasing.” Pretty soon the water is boiling & all of us frogs didn’t know to jump from the pot because the heat turned up slowly. Pitted against each other in a game of “I can do it better than her.” I’ve just realized I need to jump from the pot.

I didn’t realize that after two babies I would still have people come up to me and say, “Are you okay? You’re looking a little thin.” When I finally felt confident that day, in that tight dress I was worried about wearing. Or “Sweetheart I’m worried about you, you’re looking a little gaunt.” Actual words that have been spoken to me, & once again I am 14, putting an accommodating smile on my face to reassure them that I’m fine. Only to replay them over and over again for days & nights & standing in front of the mirror.

My mom calls my brother & I greyhounds, this is how we are built. I read article after article from curvy women sharing their struggles, which I fully believe they’ve lived & experienced. But seeing a photo or ad that says “real women have curves” is painful.

I loved being pregnant, NO ONE EVER questioned my size. I thought, this is it! This will be the time of my life where I will hold some weight. I didn’t. I lost close to 25 lbs. within two weeks of having both of my children (nursing and chasing a toddler simultaneously of course).

Once this painful topic was reintroduced by comments made to my face, I felt the need to share it because it made me realize that other women (& men) don’t know what those words do to me.

I will look in the mirror and love my size, and you should love yours. I feel sad when women compare themselves to me, I want to shake them and say, don’t do that. Instead I say, YOU are beautiful & I love that top.