Why I Love My Body
I vividly remember that day, sitting on my bathroom floor. It was cold and I was crying and it was cold. I was furious and sad all at the same time. I grabbed the opposite sides of my jeans, one hand on the button and one hand on the slit where the button fits. An inhale, and I tried once again to touch the hands together and fit the button into its destined area. An exhale, and I was defeated again. I just kind of sat there and cried and told my body, quite drastically, how much I didn’t appreciate the extra weight that it had carried. I sat there and tormented my body for a few minutes before I heard footsteps coming down the hall.
She opened the door to the bathroom and her eyes instantly connected to mine. She looked at my vulnerability and stared at my pain. I let the tears roll down my face before I hid it between my legs, which were tired from being bullied. I gave myself a real good internal lecture, upset once again that I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at my thighs in those jeans that I so desperately wanted to wear.
I forgot I wasn’t alone when I heard her say “Kathryn Cecilia. We do not cry about our bodies.” And then I was alone again. Except I wasn’t, because my mind was still with me. I stood up, stared at my mascara-stained face in the mirror, and said to myself: mom’s right. Because all of a sudden, it made sense.
I grew up lanky and dorky-looking. Interpret that as you will lol. I just looked hecka awkward.
I never ever had issues with my body image growing up. In fact, I could care less. I had the metabolism of a four-year-old boy (and the hips of one too) (aka non-existent). I got made fun of for my teeth and my long neck and the fact that I blinked too much, but no one ever talked about my weight, because it wasn’t an issue.
I want to declare myself as normal in high school; not big, not tiny. Normal. If you had the average high school-approaching adulthood experience, you’ll understand me when I say that all of a sudden, it was so hard to love myself and it was hard to understand myself. Let me hear an amen if you get what I mean. If you’re a dude reading this, you better believe you still fit into this category, too, and I’ll gladly take your hallelujahs.
There’s a very in-depth, elongated story that goes into my body issues, but unfortunately, they did start in high school. Gosh, I just didn’t like myself. I don’t even know why. I just didn’t. Right around my sophomore year of high school, I became so self-conscious, along with developing some sort of question-mark illness that made me change my eating habits because my body couldn’t process food normally. I was confused, I was upset, and I wanted to eat a freaking cheeseburger without thinking about if I would look good afterwards, or if it would upset my stomach. All of a sudden, my mind had changed from “gimme all the food” to “I’ll only eat what’s healthy for me”.
You guys, I began to put myself through torture. I wanted to be different. I always wanted to be different. Thinner was the goal for some reason, and my kind of thin just wasn’t cutting it. I restricted myself at family gatherings, where everyone was filled with joy and my stomach was empty. I mirror-checked constantly. I worked out if I made a mistake, and a mistake to me meant that I had eaten a donut. I waited for someone to tell me I looked good. My weight fluctuated and my body was confused and super unhealthy. I was just straight up miserable, but I don’t think I made it known. I was my own bully.
After I graduated high school, I joined a travelling missionary group called NET Ministries (it’s pretty cool, you should check it out) (they didn’t pay me to say that, I promise). While I was travelling around for nine months, I was getting sick pretty frequently which caused me to drop a lot of weight. I was restricting my diet because I didn’t know what was causing the constant sickness. I got home after the experience and I was at a super unhealthy weight for my age and my height, but I didn’t notice because I had freaking been doing missionary work. I began college and you know what happens in college, right? Lol. The weight gain and weight loss and weight gain played so hard with my mentality. I tried to diet, but heck, I didn’t know how to properly diet. And oh my gosh, all I wanted was a whole chocolate cake while cramming my studies. The good Lord knows I wasn’t going to the gym. Lol. I spent my two years in college binging my way into sadness.
I never said kind things to myself. Never. I knew how to talk myself into feeling like I was worthless, though. I don’t know if people could tell that I was miserable. I felt so trapped. I would have breakdowns in my college apartment closet, crying as I looked up to a row of hanging clothes that no longer fit correctly. I wanted to throw them all away, but I kept them for the day when the weight would magically shed. I was in a hole. It was shameful and it was hurtful. And then I opened my door and smiled for the outside and the Instagram to see.
We do not cry about our bodies. Those word hit me harder than I had ever felt. And they were exactly what I needed.
Things didn’t change automatically, but things did start to make sense. For the beginning of my entire adult life up to that point, I dragged myself into misery. I restricted myself from living fully in fear that my outside self wouldn’t appear acceptable to whomever took a glance. It started to make sense that I wasn’t letting myself enjoy anything. I didn’t want to go swimming. I didn’t want to go out and get drinks with my ladies. I didn’t want relationships with guys. I didn’t want to look at pictures of myself laughing because I was scared of the quadruple chin appearing. I didn’t want to go out to eat because I was scared of what was on the menu. I didn’t want to put on a cute outfit and stroll the town because I knew every girl would look better than me. I wasn’t living alive. I was just kinda breathing. And that started to make sense to me. And I didn’t want that anymore.
Again, it wasn’t an instant change, but damn, I started loving myself hard. Why? Because I got tired of just breathing.
Loving myself looked like seeing myself in a mirror, and saying, “what a beautiful woman.” Loving myself looked like seeing other women walk past me and saying, “what beautiful women.” Loving myself looked like remembering that God calls me precious and adored and beloved. Loving myself looked like eating pie at a Sunday get together with my family. Loving myself looked like beginning to run, not because I felt guilty because of the pie, but because God gave me a body to move. Loving myself looked like feeding myself whole and nutritious foods because I wanted to fuel the body that God gave me. Loving myself looked like going swimming. Loving myself looked like hanging out with friends from high school and not caring if I look different than when I was younger. Loving myself looked like throwing away the scale. Loving myself looked like me stopping myself when I began to listen to whispers in my head that said I didn’t look good in that shirt and to go change. Loving myself began to happen.
This is where I give you permission to love yourself. This is where I ask you to look in the mirror and speak kind words. Hell, call yourself a sexy fox if that helps. This is where I ask you to stop looking at the other woman and wanting yourself any other way than you are. This is where I ask you to stop waiting for ‘eventually’ or ‘one day’ to do the things that set your soul on fire because you’re afraid of how your body looks. This is where you eat that piece of bread or that piece of cheese or that potato, and you don’t let one person tell you it’s bad. This is where I give you permission to live exactly where you are, and I promise to love you exactly as you are.
I am better now. I am not healed, but that is my cross to bear, and I’m okay with that because it keeps me close to my Savior. Are you ready for more vulnerability? I have a load of stretch marks. Like they’re there and they’re noticeable. And I could be upset with them, very easily so. Instead I look at them and I look up to the sky and I say “thank You for getting me to where I am now.” And then I keep living my life in abundance.