For our second installment of Body Image Week, we welcome Ambassador Crystal. Crystal discusses how she has struggled with body image her entire life. And how she wants to change that for her daughter and encourage her to be healthy.
As I get older I seem to struggle more and more each day with how I see myself in the mirror. Some days I wake up and go, “Damn I look good”. While other days I can’t ever bear to see my reflection. I’ve always had issues with my body image, ever since I was a child.
Growing up I was always told I was either too skinny or too fat. I never felt like I was a perfect weight for my size. One thing that has been the hardest thing for me to talk about is the way I was raised when it came to my body image. My mom has been a health nut since I was in late elementary school when she started losing a ton of weight (almost 150 pounds total right now). Every time she thought I would gain a pound or two she’d tell me I should eat less, or make me eat smaller meals. The comments were never “you’re fat”, but she’d say “your butt is getting too big”. She raised me with the thought that since she grew up overweight she didn’t want me to grow up overweight, and even though she had good intentions it has left me with lifelong body image issues.
My weight has jumped up and down by 50 pounds over the years, and when I met my husband the weight started to stay on. I felt like I never heard the end of it from everyone around me. I even had a boss that asked me if I was pregnant (While grabbing his own stomach to pretend he had a pregnant belly). When I told him NO, with tears in my eyes, he said, “Well then you’re just getting really fat.” It was the worst day of my life at that point. I picked up my purse and walked right out the door crying my eyes out. As bad as that was I didn’t quit that job and continued to work there with the constant disgusted looks from everyone every time I ate or drank anything. I now know that was the worst thing for me to have done, but being only 23 at the time and fresh into the full-time workforce I was scared to leave.
When I had my daughter I knew that I didn’t want her to ever feel this way about her own body.
It was my mission for her to understand that you’re perfect no matter what you look like. So I started searching inside myself and came up with a motto that I now live by. “It’s about being healthy, not just skinny!” Looking back even at my skinniest times in my life I was not healthy. I would starve myself for days, then binge eat junk food, drank too much alcohol, and never exercised. So being skinny again was not what I wanted to be. I wanted to be healthy, to live a long and happy life no matter my size. If you put good food in your body, be active, and understand that it’s OK to make mistakes then the weight will come off.
As the weight comes off you will feel better, and yes you will love the way you look, but the most important part is that you are healthy. I now know that I can play outside with my daughter, take her hiking, and enjoy those precious moments with her as she grows without worrying if I can physically handle it.
I want my daughter to grow up looking at herself in the mirror and saying, “I am strong and beautiful. I can do all these sports and activities, and I’m healthy” instead of thinking “I’m too fat or too skinny”.
Now, I’m not naive, I know that she will see girls super skinny, and those girls may say something negative towards her. I also know she’s going to look at magazines and images on social media with these “perfect body type” women, but I want to have raised her to be able to know that she doesn’t have to look like those “fake” images of women. That she’s perfect just the way she is!
I have to still tell myself every day, “It’s about being healthy, not just skinny!” And, it’s not an easy thing to do. But, I stop, close my eyes, take a deep breathe and remind myself that I’m just the way I’m supposed to be. If I can’t work on my own “bad body image” issues, I can never teach my daughter to not think that way. Now go tackle your day and feel good about yourself. You are built exactly the way you are supposed to be, and also remember, we Hike Like A Women! There are loads of people who could never hike the trails we do, even with their “super skinny rock hard” bodies!
So, let’s all take a quick moment, close our eyes, take a deep breathe and say “It’s about being healthy, not just skinny!”