I have always had a problem with the way I look.  I have never felt “skinny” enough.  Even when I was “skinny” I never felt good about my self-image. I’m not sure when these feelings started. When I was a child I was extremely skinny. In fact I had to take weight gainers prescribed by my doctor because I was so behind on the weight chart. As I got into high school things began to change.  I don’t know if it was due to hormones but my body began to put on weight much easier. I was still okay with my weight though.

Then I was around 17 my doctor prescribed me birth control to help with horrible cramps.  When I went on birth control I gained a significant amount of weight. My pant size went up to 30 and my weight rose to 140lbs.  This may not seem “big” to some of you reading this but it was significant to me because I was 125lbs and a size 24 before birth control.  My bust went from a 32 B to a 36 F.  All these things were happening to me during puberty and there was nothing I could do to control it.  It didn’t matter what I would eat (or not eat), the weight wasn’t going anywhere.  At one point my doctor even told me that I needed to stop gaining weight and that I could stand to lose a few pounds. I was completely devastated. As a high school girl this was traumatizing.

I remember the nights where I would try and get dressed and everything I put on didn’t fit and the feeling of fat coming out from the top of my pants was painful.  I would just sit and cry.  There were nights I didn’t go out of the house because I hated my body. This phase lasted for a solid year or so. I finally decided to go off the birth control because I was considering having a breast reduction because my chest was so big it was hurting my back. I also hated my weight. My plastic surgeon had suggested going off birth control to help the weight and to stop my boobs from getting any bigger.  Going off birth control helped the weight come down but my chest didn’t get any smaller.  I also ended up having a breast reduction. Even though I felt more comfortable in clothes and so much lighter, my body image issues were still there. It wasn’t as bad as before (I wasn’t crying every day about being fat) but I still wasn’t happy about the way my body looked. This trend persisted through my early to mid-twenties. Whether I was 140lbs or 118lbs I was never good enough.

As I have gotten older I have realized that when I was younger everything was about weight and size. My self-worth was tied up in numbers and measurements. The truth is that no matter how heavy or light I would have been, or what size I would have been, I wouldn’t have been happy.

An interesting thing happened the other day. I weighed myself and I weighed 140lbs. The same weight that caused me all that grief and pain. For a moment I looked at the number and was taken back to my high school years. Then I realized I have never loved myself more than I do today. I love the way I look but more importantly I am happy and love the way I feel. I have realized that body image truly has nothing to do with numbers and measurements (although we focus on those things) but rather body image comes from inside and is tied to our sense of self-worth.

This doesn’t mean I don’t still have bad days. I think we all have those days where we don’t feel like our clothes fit well or we don’t like the way I look. But these days those feelings are temporary and fleeting. When I feel like that I remind myself where my self-worth really comes from and they fade away quickly.

The reason I am telling you all of this is because it helps me to admit that I had an issue. For many of those years I lived in denial refusing to admit I had a body image problem. Even now the temptation is to deny it. By admitting this, recognizing this, and talking about these feelings and where they come from helps me manage them. It will help you manage them too.