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Jun1
2017

Your Body is Not a Problem

By Caroline Harbour

I was standing in the checkout line at Target wearing a baggy sweatshirt, even though the weather wasn’t quite cold enough yet, attempting to hide the fact that I had simply swapped my pajama bottoms for a pair of jeans. I set an armful of items on the conveyor belt and let my eyes rake over the racks of glossy women’s magazines bursting with promises of exercises, fad diets, and health products that would fix the reader’s “problem areas.” Seemingly happy, confident women with Photoshop-enhanced abs and thighs no bigger around than a can of low sodium green beans beamed at me while the cashier rang up my frozen pizza, two pints of ice cream, package of cookie dough, and two family size bags of candy. My brother was away at college and my parents were out of town for the weekend, so I was going home to an empty house. It was the perfect opportunity to stock up for two days worth of binge eating.

My disordered eating patterns didn’t develop overnight. I would stand in front of the mirror before I got dressed and pinch my stomach, thighs, and hips, willing my body to get smaller. I walked through the hallways at school mentally measuring the circumference of every other girl’s waist, trying to see how I measured up. Even if the scale or a measuring tape labeled me as “healthy,” in my mind I was fat, and to my sixteen-year-old self that was the worst thing I could possibly be. In my near constant inner narrative of criticism, fat was what was holding me back from happiness, confidence, and satisfaction within my life. I decided I would change, and I would do so by any means necessary.

I skipped meals whenever I could, saying I didn’t have time for breakfast in the morning and going to the library instead of the cafeteria at school under the guise of having to study. But after days of this, as soon as I was alone with food in the house, I’d give in to my hunger and eat everything I could get my hands on, overfilling my stomach until I felt sick. Afterward I would punish myself for days, thinking I could be thin and beautiful if only I had the willpower.

I started calling my binge episodes my “cheat days”—something diets in magazines always seemed to include—as if eating macaroni and cheese constituted a moral failure. Six days of near starvation followed by one day of bingeing. During the week my stomach ached constantly with hunger, and I grew to crave that ache.

On the outside, I looked fine. But on the inside, things were falling apart faster than even I knew. My dislike of my body turned into hatred, and then the hatred of my body turned into hating everything about myself. Anything I did that was a hair less than perfection was considered complete failure. My weight fluctuated rapidly with my bingeing patterns, and my sense of self-worth went with it.

Even worse, for a long time I didn’t think I had a problem because I thought this was completely normal. I thought that all people, especially women, hated their bodies. Why else would “ways to fix your problem areas” litter every other commercial and daytime talk show? I assumed that happiness and acceptance of myself and my body could only be achieved if I “fixed” myself to the standards I was seeing.

Turns out, I was utterly mistaken.

No matter how many lumps or bumps or bulges it has, your body is not a problem that needs to be fixed. No matter how much or how little you resemble a cover model, your body is part of you, and it deserves your love and your respect. And your life is not something that will start after you’ve lost enough weight. You’re living it—here and now—so don’t waste another minute hating your body or believing you’re not good enough.

Love your body because it’s the one you have.

Love your body because of the amazing things it can do.

Love your body because it’s what you deserve.

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Comments (8)

  1. Jessica

    This kinda happened to me about a year ago. Except I was anorexic. I am still insecure of my body. I am on the swim team but I am having trouble with my shoulders and it’s preventing me from swimming. Because of this I have gained 20 lbs. sometimes I feel sick. As in disgusted with myself. I try working out but I still don’t have enough motivation.

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    1. Becky Ebert

      Jessica,

      We’re glad you reached out. Please know that you are not alone in feeling this way, but also remind yourself as many times as you need to that your body isn’t something you should be ashamed of or afraid to love. We encourage you to email us at info@twloha.com, if you would like to share more your story.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
  2. Lisa

    This is beautiful.

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  3. Alyx

    This hit me. It needed to be said and then heard.

    Reply  |  
  4. Hayley Ault

    Caroline,
    You are beautiful just the way you are! Those magazines and ads on tv, etc., get so many people! including myself at times, and I am so proud of you for realizing that your body is your body. You are more than enough and you are such a strong woman! A role model for millions of others. Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

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  5. Ella

    People always say things like “you are beautiful”, “your body is not a problem” but when you are dealing with an eating disorder, it just sounds meaningless. Just because an stranger on the internet says so doesn’t mean it’s true. I wanna know what made you decide to go through recovery. I wanna know why not being sick if it’s the price to pay?

    Reply  |  
  6. Jade

    I am 16 years old and I walk around my school looking at all these other girls wishing I could be them. I look at them and I wish I could have a thigh gap like they do I wish I can wear a dress or a pare of shorts and not worry about my thighs or scars. I wish I could wear a crop top like they can. But more than anything I want to be able to look in the mirror and not hate myself .I want to be able to go try on cloths without finding something wrong.i want to be able to go out in public not worrying what people think about me. I just want to love my body the way it is but I can’t.

    Reply  |  
    1. Becky Ebert

      Jade,

      Please know that you are enough as you are. You do not need to look a certain way or be a different person. You are worthy of love from yourself and love from others.

      Seeking help to work through your thoughts is a great place to start. We have a list of local resources here: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

      Also, please email us at info@twloha.com if you want to share more of your story. We read and reply to every message we receive.

      You are not alone, Jade. You are brave and wonderful and enough.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |