My Struggle With Body Image

 

Growing up, I was always the shortest and the skinniest person I knew. I dreaded every doctor’s visit as I knew when I stepped on the scale, I would be told that I don’t weigh enough for my age. The issues never bothered me so much though until I was in middle school.

As we approached middle school graduation, our teachers recorded the height and weight of every student and everyone was coming back and talking about how much they weighed and asking their friends. At that point, most people I knew had been around 70-90 lbs and I knew that when I stepped on the scale, I would be judged. I made my way downstairs from my class and stepped on the scale; I had only weighed 53 lbs. One of my teachers immediately told me that I needed to eat a sandwich, and I know it seems silly, but imagine being an impressionable thirteen year old. When I headed back upstairs, everyone asked me how much I had weighed, and when I told them about my being 53 lbs, one of my classmates screamed that I was anorexic and proceeded to laugh in my face.

I struggled with weight gain for most of my life after that point. This was difficult because I had played sports, keeping my metabolism fast and because I came from a less fortunate family, if I had to pay for something, I sometimes ended up using an entire week’s worth of lunch money. Because of this, I was yet again referred to by some as anorexic for not being able to afford to get lunch some days. I began binge eating when I started high school, hoping that it would help me gain weight and make up for missed meals during the day. I even dropped a sport. Nothing helped. I was eating more than everyone in my entire family and no matter how much I ate, I never got that feeling of being full.  

By the end of my sophomore year, I had still been somewhere in the 50 lb-65 lb range. By junior year, I had miraculously surpassed 80 and by senior year, I had gotten up to 110. Even with this, I still saw myself as overly skinny and my teachers did too. By the time my first semester senior year blood drive came around, I asked one of my teacher’s for the blood donation form, something I had been looking forward to since I had turned 16, and now I had finally weighed enough. With almost an anger in his voice, he told me that he wasn’t giving me a form because I didn’t weigh enough. Just based off of my appearance he had assumed that I wasn’t eligible.

After graduating high school and starting college, my cheerleading and gymnastics days were over. Once coming to Adelphi, I immediately began to gain weight. I went from 90 lbs— after having lost weight over the summer— to roughly 120 lbs after my first semester and a half. I gained so much weight in such a short period of time that my first sets of stretch marks had appeared. As the years went on, now leading up to my junior year, my peak weight so far has been 130 lbs and fluctuates often. I’m still critical of 99% of my body today, but I try not to be.

I still unfortunately am not happy with my body. I sometimes have days where I feel like I’m too skinny and others where I feel like I need to lose ten pounds or so, but I AM learning to love it. I’ve had a difficult relationship with food and my weight for almost ten years now and I’ve put my body through hell to not only be healthy, but look healthy. But I’ve finally come to realize that I have one body and one lifetime. If I don’t nourish it and love it now, then I don’t get a redo. And maybe the love part is a little harder to do, but as long as I nourish and take care of it, the love part will eventually follow.

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