For 11 years I have been ashamed of being small, petite, thin… different. I had always tried to fight it in every place except the soccer field. For some reason I felt most accepted out there.
During the 8th grade is when I really started to notice how small I was compared to the other girls. That’s when I started to hide my body. It was a week before the 8th grade formal when a boy came up to me and said something about how little my arms were and then disgustingly told me “if you aren’t anorexic you must be bulimic” and I honestly hadn’t even thought about my body until that moment. This comment has tormented me for ELEVEN YEARS. If I could talk to my 13 year old self, I would say that “Your worth, my worth, is not found in teenage boys” or anyone else for that matter.
My cousin was going to loan me a spaghetti strap dress before that comment was made and I never went back to pick it up. I decided not to go to the formal because everyone would see my arms. From that day forward I began wearing long sleeve shirts to cover up my arms. If I had a particular short sleeve tee that I wanted to wear, I would just layer it over a long sleeve thermal. As a freshman in high school I decided that long sleeves weren’t enough so I started wearing jackets. Not even light cardigans, but heavy zip ups or hoodies. I remember one day after school in mid August, I was so hot I thought I was going to pass out. My mom sternly told me to take off my jacket and I was so relieved that she did. That year, I had to take a P.E. class and I became SO NERVOUS because I had to get dressed and undressed in a locker room in front of other girls. I hated it. I made sure I had a tank top underneath my shirts and started wearing shorts underneath my jeans so when I had to take off my “normal” attire, I was already in something that protected me from other girls looking at me. I made sure to dress and undress as quickly as possible.
Within the next year (as a sophomore) I thought, “I’m going to try something different” and I decided to see if I could gain weight. I ate as unhealthy as I could and it worked, I gained a belly and lots of stretch marks. Even though I wasn’t eating right, I was the most in-shape I had ever been and I could run non stop. I noticed that I had more energy because I had more calories to burn. This was important for me because in the 7th grade, I was doing a project in class and I started to see black. I got super weak and I started to panic. I began crying and the next thing I remember is being in the hospital getting blood drawn. I was told that I was burning more than what I was eating. Like anorexia, but I wasn’t purposely doing it to myself. Soccer was my life, literally… and I just wasn’t eating enough. My parents got me on protein shakes every so often but eventually I stopped drinking them because they were just too gross. I have never intentionally tried to harm myself, it never even occurred to me that something like that could happen.
(Back to being a sophomore) I started to learn about God. I don’t think I had ever even opened a bible before then. I stopped obsessing about my arms and started to wear clothes that I liked. I was so exhausted from trying to hide myself. But, I was still trying to stay unnoticed. My hands would sweat all day from being so nervous. Any time someone would talk to me I could feel my face burn from turning deep red. I was extremely quiet and didn’t want any attention at all. This went on until I graduated High School.
I stopped worrying about my weight until I was 21/22 after my first daughter was born. I breastfed her until she was 17 months old and by doing so, I lost all of my pregnancy weight and then some. I weighed 83 lbs. In High School I was 97 lbs, pre-baby I was 87.
When my daughter was a baby, my husband took us to one of his work parties and the woman of the house would not leave me alone. In front of other women, she looked at me with disgust. She made comments on how I wasn’t eating the food, how I couldn’t possibly nourish a baby, how skinny I was, and so many other horrible things I chose to block out from my memory. I wanted to cry, I wanted to run and hide. I was so embarrassed. So ashamed. How could my husband love my body? How could my daughter have such a small mother? WHY did God make me this way?
After my second daughter was born, my doctor told me that my body would go back to what’s most natural for me, which would be the 83 lbs that I was prior. She told me that I would not be able to gain weight until atleast 2 years after I stop breastfeeding because the bone loss that occurs during that time. She reassured me that this is normal for some women and that I was healthy. Just by the way she looked at me and asked me questions, I could tell that she knew I had emotional problems connected to my weight. But she was genuinely caring for me and is the best doctor I’ve had thus far. The computer system flagged my weight loss just from leaving the hospital to my first appointment but because of my height, it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. (I’m 4’11”) I didn’t want to believe her and I most definitely wanted to prove her wrong. I gained around 40 lbs during my second pregnancy, there was NO way I’d lose it all. This time would be different.
Well, its been 9 months since, and here I am. 83 lbs staring back at me from the bathroom scale. My hips have shrunk back, my thighs are small again, skin is loose where my belly once was. And you know what I’ve realized? It’s okay. I know I’m eating. I know I’m staying hydrated. I can carry my babies, feed them, take care of them. I am able to be mentally and physically present for them. I have accepted that comments will come and go and I know that my worth is found in Christ. He died on the cross for ME. I was worth it to him, and as mind boggling as that is, I accept that.
I have gone through some major changes this summer and my sister-in-law sent me this text..
she’ll never have any idea what this did for me but God was using her to help heal parts of me that are still broken over this journey. It meant so much to me that someone could even see me that way, I just can’t comprehend it.
I have been going to SHE Ministries this past month for their bible study Live Fearlessly and I my eyes have been opened to SO much. God is working in me, healing me, and pointing me towards redemption. I am working towards no longer being ashamed of myself. My height, weight, being so tiny in general. God made me this way and to be disappointed in that is to be disappointed in him. He made me capable of taking care of my family through him, I cannot do it on my own and I cannot do it while doubting him.
I’m tired of hiding, tired of not wanting to wear things because it’ll make me look this way or that way. I want to wear what I like, even if it brings attention. Makes me look shorter, flatter, wider, thinner, more pale, goofy, dorky, all of the above.
I want freedom. To be wild and free in God alone.
“We have to feel the distinct pain of our own enslavement before we’ll find the courage to leave it for freedom” -Hayley Morgan
This is just a glimpse into what I’ve been struggling with but I pray that for those of you who are reading it, it would give you the encouragement to share your stories. It’s not healthy to paint a picture of the perfect life and let everyone think that we are free of blemishes. Fellowship begins with us, raw and fragile.
Into the night, these words kept replaying over and over.
So I rest in Your promises
Now I am sure of this
Let the waters rise
I will stand as the oceans roar
Let the earth shake beneath me
Let the mountains fall
You are God over the storm
And I am Yours