In high school, I was told by someone who I thought loved me that I had an awkward body, and that’s exactly where my body image issues and eating disorder began. I went from being a girl who worked out twice a day and played sports all year round to doing yoga and Pilates, then eating less than 1,000 calories a day. I went from healthy and athletic to horrifyingly thin within a few short months; I went from being satisfied after a full meal to feeling disgusted with myself if I ate normal portions; I went from thinking that being strong and healthy was beautiful to think that the thinner I was, the more people would like me. I let the words of people around me that took seconds to say to sit in my head for years. If I’m being completely honest, those comments have still stayed with me. I’m in a constant battle between being healthy and loving myself and fitting this unattainable standard of physical perfection that Instagram and things like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show have created for women.
I started modeling during my last few years of high school, and that’s when my eating disorder spiraled out of control. I was always under the impression that pictures add 10 pounds to how you “actually look”. If I thought I looked bigger in a picture, I wouldn’t eat until I felt I measured up to the impossible and obscure standard I had placed on myself. If I wasn’t the skinniest girl in the casting room, I felt like I had failed myself.
I was in a very toxic relationship. This is not to say it was all his fault by any means because I was so insecure that I played a huge role, too. I was constantly worried he would leave and find something or someone better than me. Eventually, he did. My freshman year of college, my anxiety, depression, and eating disorder controlled my life. My grades started slipping. I couldn’t get out of bed and leave the house when I used to jump out of bed every morning so excited about life in general.
To help with my anxiety, I got an emotional support dog with my roommate. His name was Remington, and my God did he steal my heart. We did everything together. After a tough day, coming home to his face was the one thing that kept me going. I swear he knew exactly when I was sad because he always did something to make me laugh until my ribs hurt during my toughest nights. I depended on him during all my anxious moments. One morning my boyfriend and I were walking home with Remi. I always walked him without a leash. I live on a safe street and he always stayed near me. He must’ve seen something across the street that day, I honestly don’t know why he ran when he did, but he got hit by a car going 40 in a 25 and died almost instantly due to the pressure of the wheels.
I found myself at rock bottom, and I couldn’t hide it behind my fake Instagram persona. Remi, my lifeline, was gone. I felt completely alone and like I couldn’t talk to anyone because I had to keep it together. I felt like God was almost laughing at me, throwing things my way and seeing just how many blows I could take. Looking back, I realized that God was removing things from my life to teach me I was capable of healing myself.
I still struggle with what people think of me, even though I have the tough girl with the chip on her shoulder attitude. My Instagram needs to look a certain way. If I don’t get enough likes, I’m not good enough. If I don’t go out and get hammered with my friends and post it all over social media, I’m not interesting enough.
By surrounding myself with people who genuinely know me and my heart, I’m learning to take a step back and figure out who I am outside of what the world wants me to be. Learning to love myself and do what’s best for me has been anything but easy. I still avoid looking in the mirror when I feel I’ve gained weight. I still compare myself. I still go out when I know I’m mentally drained and staying in would make me happier. But, the first step to recovery is admitting there’s something wrong. Surrounding yourself with people who will call you out on your bullshit and that you can have an open dialogue with about your struggles is the best way to hold yourself accountable. The world is filled with fake friends and people who only want you for what you have to offer. Find your people and let them love you unconditionally.
Me telling you to stop comparing yourself would be hypocritical because I do the same exact thing. The world wants you to have your shit together, but the truth is, none of us do. Be vulnerable, be true to yourself, own your struggles because you’re so much more than what you’re going through. Talk to people, because I promise they’re not as perfect as they seem. Through vulnerability, you will find your people, and you will lose people. You will find the people who will lay in bed with you and hold your hand in the middle of an anxiety attack. You will also find the people who stab you in the back and take your vulnerability as being weak. It’s a disheartening process, but you will become stronger through surrounding yourself with people who really know you and who remind you of exactly who you are.
All the love,