During my twenty-six years of life, my body has gone through several changes. From a baby to a toddler, toddler to preteen, preteen to teenager, etc. I know that the body I have now, will continue to change if I become a mother and as I enter menopause. Body changes are a natural part of life, yet many women, including me, fight these natural changes.
I first became aware of my body size was when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I felt bigger than most girls and often times felt helpless to change my body. These were some of the feelings that led me into my eating disorder. Years later, I now know it’s common for pre-pubescent girls to fill out, but at the time my body size felt a life sentence.
These feelings led into a seven-year struggle with anorexia, where I religiously controlled my weight and body fat. Looking back, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had let my body be. What would it have been like if I had let it naturally develop?
Because of my restriction and over-exercise, I never went through the natural changes of puberty. My body stayed in it’s pre-pubescent state. This drastically changed when I went through treatment for my eating disorder. In 3 months, I went from underweight to a healthy, stable weight for my age and height. Restoring weight was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. The body I had known for 7 years was completely foreign to me. I wanted to crawl out of my skin, to mask what I had become. In reality, this weight was much easier to maintain than my previous weight. However, it didn’t feel “safe.”
It took me years to somewhat accept my new weight. I thought I was over the hard part, but no, there were still changes to come. In college, my body went through another change. I added a little more weight, and my body filled out in certain areas. I was so scared and frustrated. I had just started feeling normal in my body, and it had to change on me again. I bought new clothes and tried to accept these new changes.
After college, my body went through yet another transformation – into a woman. Suddenly I had curves. I was again faced with the need to find clothes that fit my changing body. During this time, I never weighed myself – to this day I still don’t really know how much I weigh – but I could feel the changes. There were many tears as I tried on clothes and embraced the idea of being X size. I was also filled with fear and doubts – Am I eating too much? Am I not exercising enough? I felt completely out of control of my body, because while I was doing the exact same things as I had been doing for a couple years, my body had a mind of its own.
This transformation was one of the hardest. I didn’t know if I could trust my body or my lifestyle decisions. However, I did not want to fall back into a life of rules and restriction. I reached out to trusted friends for support, I surrounded myself with positive messages, and I cleaned out my social media feeds. It’s not easy, but I am coming to accept my new womanly body because it is healthy for me.
Something I have learned in this process, is that women’s bodies go through a “second puberty.” Just as a girl’s body changes in her preteen years, her body also changes in early to mid 20’s from a young girl to a woman. I find solace in this, because I don’t want to look like a young girl all my life. I want to look like a woman, curves, softness, and all.
I know what it is like to control my body at a certain size, and to me it’s not worth it. I don’t want to hold onto my teenage or young woman body. I want to live in freedom to enjoy life and trust how my body changes with time. This life is so much more freeing! Believe me!
If I can leave you with one thought – let go of control. Your body is an AMAZING creation and you can trust it! As you let go and learn to listen to your body, things may change, but give yourself grace. Love your body and all that it can do for you.
You are beautiful!