Ever since I was a little girl, it was put into my head that I had to have a certain appearance, that I needed to be a certain size, and that if I did not fit this criteria that I was not pretty enough. As a woman, I felt from a very young age that I had to be a certain way.
Because of the pressure from media, peers, and family, at 11 years old, I headed on a dangerous path and no one realized until it until my senior year of high school. By then, it was almost too late. I did not realize myself the path that I was on until the summer after my freshman year of college, when I had almost ruined everything.
When I was 11, I made it my sole mission to become a cheerleader. I had always wanted to be one and since I was going to be starting middle school the next year, I wanted to start training and learning everything that I needed to know. At the time, I thought that I was way too skinny. I was bullied on a daily basis for everything from my eyes being too big to being a stick because as an African-American girl, I should of had some sort of junk in my trunk.
From that moment on I started working out more, joined my school’s cross country team, and started watching what I ate. I did not really notice a difference at first and I honestly think that no one else did either. I kept this up for two years and even started to skip meals at school. I wouldn’t eat lunch or breakfast and tried to eat as small of a dinner as possible. Pretty soon, I noticed a difference and I was beginning to get more comfortable with how I looked. Then, I moved back to Georgia and started high school.
Over the course of the summer before my freshman year, I gained who knows how much weight and I still really haven’t forgave myself for it. Due to where I lived at, I really wasn’t able to do sports anymore, so I picked up dancing and started watching what I ate even more so. My sophomore year, it was found out that I had stomach ulcers and I had to change my diet drastically, which meant less fatty salty foods and this was not a problem for me. I kept dancing and started to eat less and even made myself throw up just for added measure. No one noticed and that was completely okay.
I started to look for ways to lose weight and look the way that I was supposed to look. I basically continued on this path through my senior year of high school and even became a vegetarian just to have more control over my weight and what I put into my body. Unfortunately, I started fainting a lot and no one could figure out why and they still can’t.
I continued to struggle even after I graduated from high school and when I did work crew at SharpTop Cove, things started to turn around. I started to eat a little bit better and I started to get healthier. I even stopped counting my calories and worrying as much about my weight as I had in the past. Things seemed to be getting better until I went to college and nearly destroyed everything. I let my weight and my need to be perfect and fit into the world’s mold of what is acceptable take control of everything in my life and got broken in the process.
When I went to college in the fall of 2013 at Maryville, I hit a complete low point. I was hardly eating and instead of gaining the freshman 15 I started the freshman negative 20. I was rapidly losing weight and looked horrible. My friends were worried and I was counting every single calorie that I ate down to the exact amount. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I realized that I had a huge problem. I ended up doing a program through YoungLife called Discipleship Focus and started to realize that I did not need to conform to the world’s idea of beauty. I was already beautiful in God’s eyes and that was really matters. I did not need to be a certain weight or size to be accepted because I already was, by a God who truly loves me without end and who will continue to do so.
I am still recovering now and trying to rebuild what got destroyed, but in a healthy and productive way. I still have a long ways to go, but I can no longer say that I am anorexic or bulimic. I remember a time when I couldn’t admit that I had a problem or that I needed help. I continued to hide behind a mask and pretend that I was alright until I could no longer do it. I let my weight and size define me for 9 years and sometimes I still revert back to my old way of thinking, but I take everyday as a victory. I am not my weight, nor my size and neither are you. Each and every single one of you are beautiful and truly loved.