Body Love Week: Learning to Love Myself
Guest Post by Esther Fox
First, I’d like to thank Lisa for giving me the opportunity to guest post on her blog. I’ve been an avid reader of 110 Pounds and Counting since it was still a small blog over at wordpress.com. It’s one of the first blogs I found when I began my journey to lose weight, and has continued to be an inspiration even when I am in constant doubt of my self and my abilities. So thank you Lisa!!
Hello! My name is Esther, of esther fox [DOT] com, and today I am going to talk to you about my journey through low-self-esteem and poor body image, and the things I do now on a daily basis to remind myself that I am in fact a beautiful human being.
When I was growing up in the nineties, self esteem and body image weren’t really touched upon in school. I spent the majority of elementary school learning about numbers and stranger danger, while eating horribly unhealthy school cafeteria lunches and chasing stupid boys on the playground. You had your stereotypical cliques of 7 and 8 year olds, and they would bully and ridicule those that didn’t fit into their candy-coated chocolate-covered world.
I of course was included in the bullied demographic. My parents didn’t buy my clothes at the local mall, so I wasn’t good enough to hang out with the cool kids. I didn’t have the latest and greatest Skip-It, or I didn’t have any super cool expensive POGS (though I did get POGS banned from my school because I was just so awesome at winning everyone else’s POGS), so I couldn’t play with the cool kids. Little did I know that being the chubby geeky tomboy would follow me all throughout the rest of my years of school, and it would go on to affect me, even now.
By the time I got to junior high (and after moving around, which didn’t really help much either), it only started to get worse. My female classmates were now reading things like Seventeen and such, wearing makeup and skirts were beginning to get shorter. I spent a lot of time in the counselor’s office because of constant ridicule. But it was so weird, because I didn’t know why I was being called fat. I wasn’t fat. In fact, I was sickly thin, and that’s something that I didn’t even see until years later. I would eat and eat and eat, and I wouldn’t gain anything. Yet, here I was, 14 and being called ugly, fatso and chunky butt.
High school was similar to junior high. I was constantly bullied and ridiculed, and spent an equal amount of time in the counselor’s office. This time, I lived in a higher class area, and the majority of the kids that went to my school were a lot more well off than I. Their parents bought them cars for their 16th birthdays, gave them credit cards to buy whatever they wanted, and I was buying clothes from Walmart and such. I became jealous and acted out in angst. I started to resent my parents (which I obviously feel horrible about now), and I kept eating. I was still skinny skinny, and here I was, still being called fat and ugly. I was just keeping all that locked up inside, beginning to believe every single person that called me ugly and fat, even though somewhere in my sub-conscience, I know I wasn’t. It was just easier at that point to go along with it, which was hurting me more than I knew at the time.
Fast forward to 2006.
I was 120 pounds, wearing a size 6 at my smallest. And I got very sick. My heart rate was almost in the 200 range, resting, and I had a extremely bad sinus infection. It turns out that I was having a thyrotoxic storm, and I almost died. After two months in and out of the hospital, loads of IV drips, loads of medications, and a brief stint in a behavioral health unit thanks to a steroid-induced psychosis, I was told I had Grave’s Disease and would have to have radioactive iodine to have my thyroid irradiated. Only because of a hospital goof up, in which I had iodine in my system already, I had to wait almost a year for the treatment. In that year, I gained about 60 pounds due to medication and emotional eating (don’t you know, my mom always told me that those cheeseburgers would catch up to me).
In my mind, I told myself that I was finally what everyone wanted me to be: fat and ugly. And because of this, I kept eating. Triple cheeseburger? Sure! Extra large popcorn at the movie theater? Yes please! Gallons and gallons of soda? I’ll take it. Let’s add on another 45 pounds. Did I care what I was doing to myself? No, because I just kept on doing it. I was ugly. I was fat. I had every right to eat all that junk.
And then I hit rock bottom in 2010. Right before I found Lisa’s blog, I couldn’t walk without getting winded. I dreaded climbing any stairs. I went to go buy some new clothes only to walk out of the store in tears (granted I still hate clothing shopping, but that’s besides the point) because I couldn’t find anything that looked half-way decent on me. So I did what anyone else would have done at that point. I joined the gym, and made a lot of changes. I gave up soda. I began to count calories. I lost about 30 pounds and then became discouraged because I had an enabler in my house (let’s refer to him as darling husband). I gained back the weight that I lost, and just said screw it.
2011 brought my decision to go back to school and work, and subsequently used every excuse in the book not to go back to the gym. I had class, I was too busy, I had work blah blah blah. So I just decided to maintain my weight. Albeit it high, I was more in shape than I was before. Only, by the end of 2011, there was so much stress in my life, between getting ready to move 600 miles away from my family and various school-related and career-related upsets, I was reverting back to the old ways of soda and binge eating. I was also moving to Philadelphia, which is known for cheesesteaks and hoagies, and that didn’t help my lack of self-control. Darling husband certainly wasn’t helping, but I can’t blame him for my dive back into the depths of despair. Only I can be held accountable at this point.
So is this the turning point (again) for me? Yes. Is it going to end up like the last time? I can only hope it won’t, and I will do everything possible to make sure it won’t. I am changing my life little by little. We joined a new gym. I am back on MyFitnessPal counting up those calories. I am drinking water again and eliminating soda and other artificially flavored drinks. As of this writing (March 7), I am on day five of drinking water only, and no soda. I am trying to get my eating in order before introducing exercise. In time, my new routine will work, and I can stop wondering what people think of me.
As for self-esteem, I decided to try something new. Being a photographer, I am constantly trying to capture the beauty in everything through my lens. I thought, well, why don’t I do that for myself? Normally, I hate having my photo taken. Whenever someone goes to take my photo, I tell them to crop everything from the neck down out of the photo. Or I run, whichever is easier, ha! Instead of running from the camera, I am going to embrace it. Deep down, regardless of what anyone says, I am beautiful, and there’s no reason why I should hide that fact. So I am forcing myself to do a photographic project of self-portraits. Every chance I get, I am going to get both behind and in front of the camera. That, in combination with positive thinking and staying away from negative influences, will only help me be a better me in the end. I am not out to prove everyone who’s ever said anything bad about me wrong, I’m just trying to live, and live better and healthier.
While I was writing this post, I was listening to iHeartRadio, and “F**king Perfect” by Pink came on. I find the lyrics to this song especially relevant for this topic of discussion, and think you should download it if you need a good lyrical kick in the self-esteem butt.
“Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than f**king perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you’re nothing, you’re f**king perfect to me
You’re so mean when you talk
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead.
Look happy, You’ll make it!
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game
It’s enough, I’ve done all I could think of
Chased down all my demons
I’ve seen you do the same.”
About Esther Fox:
Esther is a 20 something blogger living in Philadelphia with her darling husband and fellow blogger John and their four mischievous cats. When she’s not writing in her own blog at esther fox [DOT] com, Esther can be found meandering around with her camera, capturing beauty where you least expect it. Or knitting a hat. You can also find her on Twitter, tweeting randomness to the masses.
QUESTION: Can you relate to Esther’s story? In what way can you take on a project that will lead to positive self-esteem?