Approximately one week ago I found myself tuning into Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk series on Facebook. While the series focuses on conversations between her, her mom and daughter, different guests will also come on the show as well. Last week’s conversation dealt with the body issues women face. To hear Willow describe how she felt about her body compared to her curvier friends brought back up a familiar feeling I’ve talked about before. But that’s not what shook the table for me. It was the realization that I spent my early twenties eating myself to death just so I could gain weight.
I ate horribly and while I know we shouldn’t think of food as “bad” or “good,” I know it was unhealthy for me to be eating the way I was. When the servers at McDonald’s, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Sonic, Popeyes and American Deli know you by name/face, you may have a little problem. As dramatic as that sounds, that was my reality between the ages of 19 and 23. Although I’ve been blessed to not develop any diseases, my skin suffered A LOT. But I was determined to gain weight and I thought food was the answer. It wasn’t fun being small with little to no curves. It had only been implied that men preferred curvier women by those in my family, in entertainment and even by the men I was either interested in or were dating one too many times.
Although I’ve come a long way from the girl who was willing to eat anything just to gain weight, I’d be lying if I said I don’t deal with body image issues anymore. The difference between then and now is that my focus has changed. I’m more concerned with not only taking care of myself but appreciating what I’ve been given. We tend to take little things for granted like the fact we’re able to breathe, hear and have a body that’s relatively healthy considering some of the choices we make. I’ve been making a conscious effort not to do that. I don’t want to wait for the perfect moment to appreciate my body nor do I want to disregard my health to achieve something God didn’t decide would be my genetic makeup.
Loving your body, especially after being violated is no small feat. It takes a lot of work and I’m not sure if that work ever really ends. What I am sure about is that good health and overall bliss are two of my main goals.
Note: There are some people who aren’t necessarily petite that feel like “skinny” people don’t have “real” body image issues. No one is exempt from struggling with what they look like. It helps no one to be dismissive of someone’s struggles just because they look different from you.