At first, I tried to just have mom buy me all the best clothes, and jewelry and i even wanted her to let me wear makeup.. I thought if I could dress like these goddesses of the 7th grade then all my problems would be solved.. But really, the problem didn't lie in my clothes or accessories-my real problem was my mind, and my mind was saying that my physicality was my problem. My body. My face. My hair--every blemish, every dimple, every dry patch every little overhang of "pudge".. My small chest-it was ALL. WRONG.
Unfortunately it would take me years to realize that it was my MIND that was sick, my way of thinking was screwed up.. It wasn't my body. It wasn't my face... And so began the long and painful journey of high school. When I started high school I was a shell of a girl. Seventh and Eight grade had been torturous, and by the time I was a freshman I was ready to die. I was consumed by this feeling of inadequacy. I agonized over every frizzy hair.. every pimple. I couldn't concentrate in school. I picked at blemishes I wore my hair in my face. I wore baggy clothes because i was petrified of anyone seeing my "fat". Despite being involved in theater and having a wonderfully sweet supportive boyfriend I hated my body and I let that hatred kill my spirit.
About 6 months into high school I became anorexic. I began to shun food. I'd eat carrot sticks, celery, crackers...this went on for a while, off and on. Then I got tired of feeling so hungry all the time.. so i started to binging and purging. I thought "this is great, I'll eat, feel satisfied.. and then expel all those calories." Over the next three years and into my college freshman year I was on again off again with the eating disorders.. I felt miserable..but I was skinny.. and honestly, I STILL didn't think I was thin.. look at the picture of me at my freshman year gala in college..(PIC #1). Now, at this point I was eating about... 900 calories a day.. and almost always vomiting them back up.. but i was fat. I was disgusting. I was unworthy of even having my picture taken..
I went on this way for most of my freshman year. Then I took a personal fitness class-and I began to change. I realized how much damage I was doing to my body. I started to realize that I was taking the "easy" way out. If I wanted to fight for my self esteem I'd have to work for it. At this point I still had no idea BDD even existed. I slowly began trying to ignore all of my obsessively self destructive thoughts. I began to exercise, and I began to eat more-and keep it down. I tried to pep talk myself. I tried not to look at any media that made those inadequate feelings come up-but there was one critic i couldn't escape-and that was me.
I struggled with eating disorders through my junior year. It was not an easy road, but more and more I began to focus on who I was as a person and what I had to offer to people. i focused on film, and learning everything I could about the industry and art of making movies. The more I grew as a person, the easier and easier it was getting to deal with my self image. I discovered I could make people laugh, i was creative and artistic, I was fun and the more and more I tried to think positively about myself the more I realized how positively people reacted to me. People loved me.. so why should it be so hard to love myself??
I was a senior in college the first time I saw a therapist. She told me I had BDD and she told me that it was more common than I thought. She said antidepressants would help, but in the end I didn't like taking those. She gave me lots of advice on how to change my way of thinking, and since then, I try everyday to take her advice in regards to how I think about myself. After I graduate i gained alot of weight.. (Please see picture number 2 below). Essentially, I pole vaulted to the complete opposite end of the body image spectrum - instead of caring TOO much, about issues that didn't even exist - I started to not care at all. I ate and drank and partied. I drove drunk and stuffed my face. I was careless in every possible way. I just lost all control and thought "F it, I just want to do my thing, I just want to be happy. I want to be normal." I will say that after I came out of this run of self destruction and chaos, I came to a point where I asked myself "what the f*** are you doing?" And I started to get back on track. I got my mind right, and then it was time to turn to my weight. Now I really WAS overweight. I was a size 18 and I was incredibly unhealthy. I was in bad shape. BUT!!! Instead of running back into the arms of anorexia or bulimia- I chose the healthy road. I worked out, I ate better, I quit drinking-and I lost the weight (see picture 3 below).
Now, I have my good days and bad days. I am not "cured". there are so many days where I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin-despite my hard workouts, my healthy diet, and encouragement from all those around me. For many of those closest to me, this will be the first time you're hearing about what I went through. i hope you aren't upset with me. This was my journey and mine alone. I am doing well and while I can't always look in the mirror every single day and say I'm 100% comfortable with what i see, It's almost like, looking at a painting.. Other think it's so beautiful..but you just can't see it.. I KNOW I'm a beautiful person, I just can't always SEE it. But I can say this-
My name is Lauren. I'm 140 pounds. I'm small chested and I have curvy hips and a booty. I have cellulite and tan lines. I have scars. I have eczema and psoriasis. I have pimples and blackheads. I have some fat and I have some muscle. I sweat like a guy when I work out. I am weak and I am strong. I have things I'd like to change about myself inside and out-but who doesn't. I am positive and at times pessimistic. I know I will never be 120 pounds with unblemished skin and not an ounce of fat on me- and you know what? I don't want to be. There will be days where I feel defeated, ugly, and angry with myself, but at the end of most days, I can say, wholeheartedly that:
YES- I AM BEAUTIFUL- inside and out -- and I want to help others learn how to say this. And believe it.