I remember when I first began to be aware of my weight. I was in the third grade, and I was getting ready for a BBQ event for the swim team. Instead of going about my usual routine, I took a few extra minutes analyzing myself in the mirror. The first thing I noticed was my stomach. It was slightly disproportionate to the rest of my body— that made me insecure. Next, was the shirt I had chosen to wear. While this was normally one of my favorite shirts to wear, it didn’t feel the same. It felt tight. Last, I noticed my face. The smile soon dissipated to a frown. I was insecure, and this was the first time I became hyper-aware of myself. When my mom asked if I was ready to go, I immediately panicked. I started crying out of insecurity, but my mom mistook these tears as “I don’t want to go tears”. I was crying because I was uncomfortable. I wasn’t ready for others to see me when I, myself, was not capable of seeing me. This was the first time I questioned my self-worth.
Here’s the tea: I have had a long history with my body. If you know me personally, or have read my previous blog posts, then you will know I have struggled with my body for quite some time. Losing roughly eighty pounds in high school was a big accomplishment— but it also came along with a lot of unresolved feelings. I wanted to write this post because I had a change in mindset not too far back. Following a spin class, I recall having a conversation with a friend on self-worth. Referencing Genesis, I know I am made in God’s image and likeness. All those years I had spent putting myself down in the mirror was not only psychologically wounding but also harmful to my faith. Turning to quick, easy material fixes— I would prioritize surface level things over being vulnerable. I am sure you are wondering if my relationships were affected, and the answer is yes. To be honest, I don’t think I realized it in the moment. It seems silly to think that, but I did not realize that the way I treated myself influenced my interactions with others.
God doesn’t enable us to do things perfectly, He enables us to move forward by grace.” -Cambria Joy
I Don’t Normally Share This
While I am open to tell people that I lost the weight, I often struggle to be authentic with the reality of maintaining weight. Following my initial weight loss, I began to realize my depravity of food. My first year of college brought along these challenges, and I remember the strain I felt when feeling hungry. My idea of “being healthy” was far from reality. I was running on empty, and my relationships wilted as a result. God was distant to me, and I didn’t really understand how to be open with people and express the way I was feeling about myself.
When I was going through the initial process of weight loss. I took note of how feelings of shame surfaced. Some scholars describe modernity to be a “culture of shame“— or a society in which we are heavily influenced by those around us in order to adhere to the collective. In college, shame is built around campus culture and the notion of who is accepted and who is not. This can be seen through surface level exchanges on social media and/ or other platforms ( I have taken part of this from time to time.) For a large portion of my junior year in college, I struggled with how to cope with my own self-doubt. Instead of allowing these feelings to spark internal reflection, I let them weigh me down. I felt ashamed. I felt lame because I opted more into counter-culture activities. Note: this wasn’t all due to my faith. I think I knew I valued life-giving conversations and I longed for transparency— something which can be hard to find in parts of campus.
In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. In a guilt culture people sometimes feel they do bad things; in a shame culture social exclusion makes people feel they are bad.” –David Brooks“
Healing— Loving Where I’m At
After many conversations, gradual lifestyle changes, and self-evaluations, I am choosing to lean into God’s love. I know that I am worthy of being loved. College definitely has a culture of shame, and I know I can occasionally part-take in this culture. Yet, I realized in these past few months that I am content with who I am. I know my overt awkwardness and wholesome humor isn’t for everybody, but I am okay with that. For a long time, I was worried I had to act different or be a different version of myself to seek the approval and validation from others— but now I know that just isn’t true. Do I love a good wholesome Disney movie on a Friday night? Oh heck yes! Do I live for Taylor Swift jam sessions and get emotional because I love “love”? You know it! While I still experience self doubt at times, I know that God loves to redeem. He is constantly working to meet me where I’m at. I tell my friends that I see God in the birds. I know it sounds kind of silly, but I swear it’s a thing. Every time I am walking from point A to point B and I am experiencing some self-doubt and/ or fear— a huge flock of birds flies over me. Whether or not it might be a spiritual sign or just wishful thinking, I would like to think that the Holy Spirit is working through me. My health has improved over time, and I am choosing to lean into self-care. I am a big spin class gal, so I try to go a couple times a week for the mental strength it provides. I also love walks, so I try to be outside when the weather is nice. As I mentioned before, I am still learning. I am choosing to lean into a season of growth and self-love.
Thank You For Reading
As always, thank you for reading. This post was challenging for me to write, and it has been a long process editing/ discerning what I would want to say. If you are struggling currently, know you are not alone. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.