#MyBodyStory is a weekly series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body.
If you have a story to share, please email : [email protected]
Remember, every body has a story.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory articles are the writer’s own.
And now, without further ado,
Here is Kristina’s story.
“Kristina, you so do not have a butt.”
“What are you feeding her? She’s all skin and bones!”
“Oh stop, you’re so skinny.”
“I wish I had your metabolism.”
“You’re so lucky you can eat whatever you want!”
These among many other phrases are some of the words people have used to talk about my body. There are people out there who feel like just because you look skinny to them means that you also feel great about your body. Everyone has their body struggles; whether they are skinny, curvy, tall, short, long, petite. It’s never been anyone’s place to talk about someone else’s body because we all struggle with something.
From a very young age, I’ve always been the smallest. The smallest in my class, the smallest on my softball team and the smallest in any other group I was a part of. I’ve also been active for most of my life with gymnastics, ballet, dance, sports, and living an active lifestyle.
But just because I’m small and petite, doesn’t mean that I’m little in every part of my body.
In middle school, while I still kept parts of my active lifestyle, my personal appearance and style started to change. I was what you would call the “typical punk/goth kid” and back during that time I started to get bullied and make fun of for the way I dressed and the music that I listened to. I also struggled with my hair being too frizzy, out of control, and untameable. (Both my parents are Greek, so I was been “blessed” with some annoying traits, such as excess body hair, a big ol’ butt and a curly head of hair.)
Middle school was a tough time in trying to find out who I was. I felt like I had friends who pulled me in very different directions, and my family was very dysfunctional…although whose family isn’t?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted in life or in general, and I constantly wondered why guys didn’t like me. I often questioned whether I was good enough or not.
Although I was skinny and I realize it now when I look back, at the time I always felt like I could lose some weight. I still had some baby fat and was at times desperate to get rid of it. 8th grade brought a lot of pain and frustration. I started hurting myself (intentionally) and began trying to closely watch my weight by eating less, “fasting” or whatever else. I wouldn’t say that I was anorexic exactly, but I had some minor tendencies. Depression and anxiety is something that surfaced around this time, and I had a hard time understanding what it was actually doing to me.
The hardest part of all this was trying to convince those closest to me that what I was going through was serious.
A lot of what I got from others was “it’s a phase” “it’s not that bad” or “you’re making a big deal of nothing.”
But it wasn’t nothing…it was the start of something that I’ve been struggling with now for 13 years.
Upon entering high school, some things started to change. I got a boyfriend and sometimes it felt like I was on top of the world. My weight was about 103-106lbs depending on what was going on, and I was a full-time theatre nerd and full-time girlfriend.
But my senior year in high school was when it all came crashing down.
My boyfriend dumped me, friends turned themselves against me, and it felt like I had nobody and nothing to turn to. It always felt like I was going to be sick, and trying to eat was the hardest part of all. No matter how hard I forced myself to eat I just couldn’t hold anything down. I would have have a few bites and that was it. It was so frustrating to think that my own body betrayed me even though I never wanted it to. But my anxiety began to control my habits.
I lost about 15lbs very rapidly and people noticed. Family….friends…my dance instructor, everyone knew something was going on. Even when I went to the doctors that year she “showed her concern” by telling me this guy who broke my heart probably wasn’t worth it. But at the time he was and the relationship and my hurt was very real to me. This was the first time in my life that my anxiety and depression crippled me, and I didn’t know how to fix it.
When I lost the weight, although there were things I still liked about my body, I felt almost skeletal. Being just short of 5’2 and 93lbs paints a very serious picture at least in my mind. Below is a photo of me at my smallest. I was in London with my theatre group after graduation, and I remember being scared when I saw this photo a few months after it was taken. My pants didn’t fit, neither did my bras or a lot of my other clothes. The pants I have on in this particular photo were actually little girl jeans from Old Navy.
The body I had during the weight loss was one I had always imagined in my head, but once I got it, I hated every minute of it and really tried to make it better.
I started drinking Ensure and taking vitamins to make me strong again. Some people complimented my weight loss and some showed concern, and then again some didn’t say anything at all. My biggest confession here is that I was even a part of a LiveJournal community that promoted “thinspo” and was there as support for those with eating disorders. I joined to give support to those who were struggling, and also there going through pictures from each post. I think curiosity is something that had me join in the first place. The most traumatizing part was when I posted photos of my weight loss and girls would tell me that either they didn’t see any difference, or that I wasn’t even a little bit skinny. It completely warped my reality when a group of women striving to be skinny didn’t think my body was thin enough or good enough for their group.
Thankfully all of that got put behind me when I moved to Philadelphia to pursue my degree in Fashion Design at Moore College of Art & Design. They say freshman year you gain the “Freshman 15” which I did, but it was still beneficial to me. Being a picky vegetarian, I didn’t have a lot of food options at school, so I spent most of my first two years in college eating cheese sandwiches, pasta, and salad bar salads. I slowly gained back the weight but I definitely wasn’t as healthy as I could have been.
After moving into an apartment my Junior year, I was able to start making my own meals and having more control of what was going into my body. I got back to a normal 106lbs, and kept it that way up until I graduated. I also started going to the gym once a week, I walked literally everywhere and this is where I started my yoga journey.
Since graduating 3 years ago, I moved home and gained weight.
I lost my grandmother, I had another heartbreak, I moved back to Philly, I interned my ass off, and I gained 15lbs.
Now I have a real job as a swimwear designer, and I’ve been making a little bit more money which has allowed me to eat better. I also am not working out as much as I used to, and have been generally happier. And while it is still hard to accept that I’m no longer 106lbs, and probably never will be again, I’m trying to be happy with what my body is now.
Being 118 isn’t a number I saw coming, but I’m slowly learning that weight is only a number and that number shouldn’t define me, my life, my choices or anything else for that matter.
In general, I think I am a lot healthier now than I ever was, but I’m nothing like the way I ever wanted to look…and that’s okay. The #1 thing has helped me more than anything else is yoga. Yoga has changed me mentally, spiritually and physically. Since taking up yoga, it has also been a dream of mine to enrol on a yoga teacher training course. When it comes to Yoga training India is one of the best places to go if you want to learn all about this fascinating discipline. Ultimately, I’ve learned to let go, I’ve learned to control the uncontrollable and be at peace with myself. I took the steps to start medication for my anxiety/depression and have been doing much better in terms of my mental state. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% okay with the way I look, but I’m working on it!
I still have people making comments on my body, telling me that there’s no way I gained weight or that I just need to “shut up” about how my image personally affects me. I’m tired of hearing people trying to make me believe that what they say is valid, because it’s not!
I’m doing the best I can to love my body and it doesn’t help to hear people talk about my looks.
I’m not perfect and I know I never will be, but I’m trying so hard to be comfortable in this skin I’m in. Some days are better than others, but I know that I AM beautiful, and so are YOU, dear reader.
In all that you do, remember to love yourself for who and what you are.
No one else can define you.
No one else can judge you.
The only one who can do these things are you, yourself.
So stay strong in whatever battle you are fighting and I promise that one day you will find your strength and come out on top. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, we are worth it and that is something we all must remember.
I thank Dana for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you all and I hope that it has helped you or at least given you a glimpse into the life of a “small” girl.
Visit Kristina’s Blog : Chrysanthemmumm.blogspot.com