My concern with my body came into play when I was about 15 years old, it was never something I focused on, but I thought about it every now and again. My mother has struggled with her weight as long as I can remember. She measured every part of her body, from her bust to her hips all the way down to the thickness of her calves. In my head I thought if it was something my mother needed to be worried about, it should be a part of my every day concern. It would be horrible to say any of this came from the hands of my own mother, she was stuck in the same mindset as every other person on this planet and that is, “I am not good enough.”
We are surrounded by images of what beautiful is supposed to look like, we are surrounded by images of what success is supposed to look like. It is implanted in your brain that if you do not look like this your body is “wrong.” I started buying smaller clothes went I would go shopping, as a motivation to lose the “extra weight” I was told that I had.
I started restricting my calorie intake, I would count every bit of food that entered my mouth, and I would burn it off the same day. The weight came off quite quickly; I would fast for days and live off nothing but diet coke and water. When you restrict your eating habits, when you see food as the enemy, and when you become terrified of food I can tell you that it is the only thing you think about. I would conquer cravings by watching the Food channel on TV, I would sit in front of my toilet chewing food then spitting it out before I swallowed it. I would stick my fingers down my throat after a meal to get the “poison” out of me, which left me with nothing but bloody knuckles and my hair coming out in clumps. From November (2013) to the end of December the same year I lost 42 pounds, and with every pound that came off I lost my pride. No amount of weight you lose will ever fill that void in your chest, and no amount of weight you lose will ever give you a feeling of power and control.
I was sent to therapy twice a week, focusing on my body image and trying to find a happy medium in which I could gain my weight back and not feel completely horrible about myself. I gained it back way faster than I lost it; my clothes began to get tight, and my jeans proved themselves to be a part of my past that I didn’t want to revisit again. Through therapy and from the love and empowerment I got from the people around me, I was shown that the love I have for others should reflect back into the love I have for myself. I started to write poetry as a way to cope from these harmful and degrading thoughts. I started meditation and through these acts I became more familiar with my own soul; I became familiar with the parts of me that were worth celebrating.
On my journey to body positivity I have learned how to keep healthy relationships and I have learned that I should feel no shame for letting go of toxic ones. I have let go of those who caused me unhappiness and those who made me second guess my own self worth. I am aware of my flaws, and I do have insecurities but the last thing for another human being to do is point them back out to me. My body has lied and said I was ready for something, when I knew that I wasn’t. It has taken an overdose on medication, 4 police men, and an ambulance ride. It has taken unwanted hands that didn’t understand the meaning of “no,” but my God, I still got back up. This body has been through hell and back through the last 19 years, and I am so proud of it.
Body positivity is about accepting your body for exactly what it is, and forgiving it for what it is not. It is about accepting your body with all of its scars and stretch marks and telling yourself, “this is okay.” People refer to their stomach, or arms, their hips as a “problem area,” I am telling you right now that the only problem area of your body is what you think of it.
Loving your body does not happen in a night and it might not happen in a year, it takes time to heal from the amount of hate you have spewed at it. To love yourself, you must first get the courage to apologize and forgive yourself. You did not deserve the words you cursed at your thighs when you put that bikini on, and your belly didn’t deserve all those times you wished you could just cut it off. This is about learning that the number on the scale you step on does not reflect the amount of people who love you, the accomplishments you’ve made throughout your life. It cannot tell you how many times you’ve made someone laugh so hard that they cried, and it cannot tell you the amount of people you have made feel beautiful.
You are beautiful exactly the way that you are, and you need absolutely zero validation to believe that.
Thank you Caitlyn for sharing your story with us. We are all on a journey. If you have a body positive story you would like to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Poem by Caitlyn Scott
I haven’t done much
In a year, that should have been filled with growth
If breathing is all
That is okay.
I have dealt with my body
Self destructing as I opted to find myself,
And I have sorted my pieces out
From the others who
Shattered around me.
I have learned that my emotions
Are completely valid
And that I do not need to
Apologize for them.
In the past year
I have learned that
If all you accomplish in a day is breathing,
You have done enough.
I will build myself higher than
Any mountain you have ever seen,
And I will not fall down again.