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Something I Am Ready To Talk About

Where to begin? It is weird for me to be writing and talking about this because to this day, I’m not sure I’m over it yet. Body image issues are something I’ve always struggled with and are part of my story in a way I know many others can relate to, too. My hope is that by sharing my story, I can help someone going through a similar tough time.

But, I debated sharing this because I didn’t want my story to be a trigger for anyone who suffers from disordered eating worse than mine or even at all. Please note this post may be triggering.

I very clearly remember the time when I began going down the path towards my eating disorder in my sophomore year when I switched schools and didn’t know a single person at my new high school. All I saw were girls who were so tall, so thin and it seemed like everyone except me was aspiring to be models and actresses (I grew up in California, if you couldn’t tell!). I started to feel the pressure of looking a certain way to fit in, which was also around the time Instagram was getting bigger and bigger, adding to this perfect storm of pressure and insecurity.

I eventually made new friends and we were all invited to our first party. Of course, no one knew what to wear. We all were getting ready at my friend’s house and all the girls were borrowing clothes from each other except me. I couldn’t fit into anything and was crushed. I called my mom hysterically crying, begging her to take me to the mall to find something acceptable to wear because I felt nothing I had was good enough to wear to this party. In hindsight, it’s clear to me that I was dealing with body image issues and fitting in in general, but at the time it was so painful, emotional and confusing. I realized that it wasn’t ever about the clothes I had, but it was about how I felt in the clothes. I was upset about my body, especially compared to all of my new friends.

I started down the slippery slope of dieting and caring way too much about my appearance, which became an addiction in itself. I was super careful about what I ate and limited myself to only 1 apple for breakfast and maybe a little bit of protein for lunch. I cut out everything except fruits, vegetables and chicken and essentially became afraid of food. It was all I thought about. I was completely consumed by eating “healthy” (and none of my habits at this point were healthy). I did everything I could to look “better,” like running on the treadmill with an empty stomach for hours each day and taking progress pictures to document my weight loss for myself. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

My body was changing, but for the worse. I was losing hair and became so moody and irritable. I had breathing issues and couldn’t sleep. It was awful! But I didn’t care because I was thinner than ever before. At this point, my friends and teachers became concerned and it was a wakeup call that I was dealing with major body dysmorphia, a condition where no matter how you look on the outside, your brain thinks you look a different way.

I was the thinnest I had ever been, but I still found problems with my appearance. I was literally skin and bones, which is what I thought I wanted, but truly felt awful about myself. My insecurities were taking over my life and I couldn’t take it anymore.

I knew I needed to change and over time, I stopped caring as much and felt better. Comparing myself to others is my biggest enemy and now I’ve learned to stop myself before it gets too intense, like it once did. Having said that, I think I will always live with some level of body image issues. I am not the most confident person in a bikini (like, never!) but I am much, much happier with my appearance and who I am since high school.

It’s easier said than done to stop caring about something that has caused me so much pain over the years, and sometimes, my insecurities flare up and I feel like I did back in high school. Even when I appear to have everything all together, there are a lot of days where I don’t. I try to keep up with healthy habits, but sometimes it gets the best of me and I know I could be doing better. In times like these, I focus on keeping busy. Again, it’s easier said than done to overcome all of this.

I’m lucky I can share my story and hope that if you’re ever feeling down about your appearance, just know that I get it and will always be able to relate. If you want to share your story in the comments, I’ll be here to respond!

 

By Anna Chudnovsky

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