It only takes one moment, one second, one phrase to shatter a girl’s self-image, and take away her innocence forever. And, that defining moment can never ever be taken back as the damage has already been done.
For me, that one moment was when I was told I needed to be more fit in order to perform at a higher level in my sport. I believed the only way to be more fit and faster was to lose weight. Before that moment, I never counted calories, looked at the nutrition facts panel, or “dieted.” In fact, none of those things ever even crossed my mind. I chose foods that were healthy, enjoyed treats when I so desired, all while competing at the division one level in college soccer. I was confident, felt I was in great condition since I was an elite athlete, and was a happy, vivacious girl.
This other girl’s moment happened to have been at a younger age. And I hear these stories all too often. At her yearly physical, her doctor stated that in America, 80% of us don’t eat well or exercise enough—and she is part of that group. He continued on by suggesting she stop drinking sugary drinks or eating junk food. After the doctor left the room, the little girl looked at her mom in tears, and said, “I’m fat?”
My one moment in time, within just a few months, led me to restriction food intake, excessive exercise, and depression. Initially I cut out particular foods (high calorie foods), then cut out food groups (fats and carbohydrates) completely and started to skip meals. My view on what was “junk food” was distorted, and I became unhealthily thin—and my behaviors and obsessions spiraled out of control.
Those moments in time that we cannot take back are what triggers many girls to develop eating disorders. We become so critical of ourselves that at some point no matter how much weight we lose, it just never seems to be enough.
Let’s put it this way… I am 5’1”. That chart that the doctor was using to determine that young girl’s health would categorize me as “obese” based on my weight. That chart doesn’t take into account muscle mass, strength, or bone structure. When someone doesn’t “fit” into the unrealistic standards, we automatically accuse them of being unhealthy, or overweight.
I am not unhealthy, obese, or fat, nor is this little girl. But, I am forever plagued by that one moment. After recovering from an eating disorder of my own, I will forever have to battle thoughts and feelings about my weight and body.
But, by reading this girl’s story, I am inspired to take on her strength, attitude and mentality by continuing to promote positive body image. Because we are all good enough!