I have struggled with my body image since elementary school. It started with being the first girl to develop breasts, getting my period at age 11, and having a thicker body then my peers. I picked up quickly the messages I was receiving from family, friends, the media, boys/men, and bullies, that my body wasn’t good enough and needed to be changed. As I grew older the messages changed slightly and the way they were subliminally delivered evolved as most things do over long periods of time, but deep down the message was always about fitting a mold I won’t ever fit. Body confidence takes massive amounts of work, especially if you have been trained by a society that says your body is wrong or not beautiful. Most of the messages I received were unsolicited. Someone who I thought was a friend once told me, “you just need to tone-up a little.” A man I went on a date with touched my stomach and told me I could “lose a few pounds and that my boobs should be bigger.” He proceeded to say even nastier things to me when I didn’t associate with him any longer. I will never forget the first time I was called a “fat-ass” that was high school. The list goes on but you get the point!
I dieted and “yo-yo-ed” for years, which left me with more invisible scars and plenty of stretch marks. I tend to get compliments when I lose weight even if it is the result of me being sick and no one says anything to me when I gain weight other than those bullies. Why are we always commenting on people’s bodies? We need to cut that out! I feel like I have been trying to accept myself while I work to change my body, which was working against me and my pursuit of body confidence. I am learning and growing which is a beautiful thing!
In 2012, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and later IBS and SIBO. Talk about a blow to your body confidence when you are left running to the potty. It’s hard to be 20-something I need to stay near the toilet at all times. There are so many layers to IBD and how it impacts how you feel about your body. IBD causes weight fluctuations that can be hard to adjust to in addition to feeling gross or undesirable since poop/potty problems are far from glamorous. Most 20-year-olds aren’t mature enough to not laugh, much less understand and hold space for compassion, which forces many IBD and IBS warriors into isolation or at least a place we don’t feel we can share what’s really going on with ourselves. Dating was interesting, I hid that side of myself until I met my amazing boyfriend De! I am so glad I grew the confidence I have now to speak about my IBD and body so that others don’t have to go at it alone. I no longer care if someone thinks I am gross because I have IBD which is major progress! That being said, the struggle is real y’all! I feel you, I see you, I believe you and support you! I have been there and still am. As I head toward my 32nd birthday this fall I still to this day struggle with my body image and confidence. However, I am so so thankful I have learned so much about the underlying messages society tells us and how ridiculous trying to be what society wants you to be is. I am thankful for all the wonderful body-positive bloggers setting us straight. I am thankful for all the IBD warriors inspiring us all and my amazing boyfriend who helps me love my body every day.
It can be hard to have a healthy relationship with a body that has a chronic illness but it is also empowering as hell to stand up for your body and become proud of what it can do instead of dwelling on what you want to change. Body confidence doesn’t come overnight and takes a significant amount of effort for me to keep trying to re-write the narrative for my body and life. I am dedicated to re-learning and nourishing the relationship I have with this body of mine. I am a work in progress. #bodyconfidence ❤️
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