There is an ugly rumor going around. It’s not announced on the news, but we’ve all heard it. It’s the whispers from thigh gaps, skinny jeans, Instagram pictures, celebrities, diets, magazines, and chiseled cheek-bones. “The smaller the better”
It twists your thoughts into something like this:
I would be prettier if I was smaller. Boys would think I was more attractive if I was smaller. I would like myself better if I was smaller. People would accept me if I was smaller. I could wear more clothes if I was smaller.
Can I take three minutes of your time? I want to redefine the word, small, for you.Looking at this definition you might wonder why in the world anyone would want to be that. But the truth is, I did.
In 2015, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder called anorexia. For two years the strive to be small consumed my life. The less I ate, the smaller I became. But smaller was never good enough. I convinced myself that I had to be the smallest to be beautiful. It wasn’t until I starting working at Lake Wapo Bible Camp that I realized how severe my problem had become. I was physically and mentally unable to be a camp counselor–something I had always dreamed of doing. I pushed away some of my greatest friends and I couldn’t make new ones.
I had nothing and that’s when I had enough.
On June 29th, 2015, I arrived at the Melrose Center and stayed there for a month. During that time, I was rarely allowed outside and I couldn’t go home. At 5 a.m. every morning my vitals were taken and my blood was drawn so many times that I lost count. I ate on a glass table and I couldn’t pee without asking a nurse to unlock my bathroom. I say this because eating disorders are not glamorous, admirable, or desirable. Have you ever heard the phrase, “I feel small”? It’s an idiom that means to be ashamed or mortified. That’s exactly how I felt when I was there. So very small.
But it was through those painful weeks at Melrose that I made a decision:
I do not want to be small anymore.
Small brought me to the lowest point I have ever been in my life. Small says I am weak. But I am not weak. I am not limited. I am not of little force. I am not of minor importance. And to every single person reading this, neither are you. I urge you, do not be small, be beautiful.Beautiful does not come in a size. Unlike small, beauty is not limited. Beauty is in every height, hair color, weight, skin tone, and freckle. Being beautiful is strength. It is lovely. It is listening. It is compassion. It is patience. It is determination. It is courage. It is doing the right thing. It is showing kindness to a stranger. It is comforting a friend. It is endless.
That is beautiful.
You can’t buy it off a clothing rack, gain it after exercise, or see it on a scale because being beautiful is more than having XS and double zero printed on your clothing tags. It doesn’t have rules or say you aren’t good enough.
And perhaps, most importantly, you don’t have to change anything to be beautiful.
I am the girl who heard the ugly rumor and believed it. So let me tell you the truth: I lost. When you have an eating disorder–you only lose. You lose weight of course, but it’s more than that. You lose your energy, your mind, your relationships, your goals, your time, your sense of humor, and as one of my greatest friends told me, “your spark.”
After Melrose, I had to throw out most of my clothes. I bought bigger pants, shorts, jeans, and looser shirts. Recovery is a slow journey. Sometimes I feel like my cheeks are too wide for my face and I struggle to find something to wear in the mornings. But even with all that, I can honestly say that I have never felt more beautiful in my whole life.
And it’s not because I have defined legs, a flat stomach, and a low number on the scale. Because I don’t.
I feel beautiful because I no longer find my beauty in being the smallest. My beauty is big because I’ve found it in the one who is the biggest.
“…God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (MSG)
I decided to share my story because life is too short and eating disorders take too much of it. If you are going through this, you are not alone, you are not crazy, and you are not small. You are worth more than all the treasures on this earth and you need to treat yourself like one. Please talk to someone you love about what you are going through and get the help that you deserve. If you aren’t ready and just want someone to talk to, I am always here to listen. xoxoxo