Self Love, Actually

9EAEF4F9-39E1-4060-9614-EC7448A804AD.jpegPhotography by Juniper & the Sea

“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”    William Shakespeare

For as long as I can remember, I had this silly idea that I was overweight, unattractive and unloveable.

I grew up during a time when size negative zero white models and pop stars were idolized. I grew up thinking I had to look like that in order to be seen as attractive. I was never a size 0, and as a multiracial woman, have never looked like Kate Moss or Britney Spears. I was teased for being “fat” throughout elementary school, and when I was in high school I weighed (an apparently obese) 125 pounds! I remember upon turning 18, a friend of mine at the time bought me a sexy bare-midriff halter top for my birthday and said to me something like, “Now that you’ve lost weight, I got you this sexy top you can wear.”

You guys, I was a mere 120 pounds! Great friend, huh? 

That shit stuck with me. Like ever since I was 12 years old my mom would tell me not to smile too wide because then my big nose would stretch out even more. Or that as my weight went up and down that I looked “better skinny.” Or when a friend suggested I get breast implants. Or the time a guy in high school joked in class that I was “as big as an elephant”.

WTF is that?! Like, that’s not even proportionately possible, but it still made me feel all the more insignificant and unattractive. 

My insecurity continued to affect my relationships and my inability to be confident in how I looked at myself, anything I did, or the types of people I attracted. 

Into adulthood and at 30 years old, I suffered from a serious eating disorder after I found out that a boyfriend had cheated on me. In a matter of three days I had lost 11 pounds. In a matter of months I went from a size 8 to a size 2. I was swimming in the bridesmaid dress I was supposed to wear for my friend’s wedding, even though I had been fitted for the dress just months before.

I didn’t eat. I didn’t want to. And this is coming from a woman who graduated from culinary school. Who loved cooking as much as she loved eating. 

What really sucked was that I would post photos of my incredibly shrinking self on social media and would get tons of compliments like: “Omg you look so good!” “You look amazing girl!” “Hottie!” 

It sucks because I was really sick, and those “compliments” were just feeding the disorder. Feeding my desire to lose more and more weight to the point to where I was almost unrecognizable. 

Looking back, I know now that the reason why I punished by body so much during that very dark time was because I wanted to disappear. I didn’t feel that I was pretty enough. Thin enough. Desirable enough. I spent over 3 decades thinking and feeling that I was not enough. That if I was thinner, I would not have ever been cheated on. How fucking stupid is that? I was conditioned to believe that my ex, (who I discovered later on was a legit sociopath) would want me more if I was thinner. Again—how fucking stupid is that?

It wasn’t until later, after more heartbreak and years of getting over all of that baggage, I then started dating myself. Loving myself first. When I finally learned to love and appreciate myself, I discovered something incredible, life-changing, really. I learned that I’m pretty fucking awesome. Just the way I am.

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