Here is why my body image is and has been pretty screwed up.I barely remember a time in my life when I have not been concerned about the way I look.  Actually, I remember when it really started.  I was in the 5th grade and at a new school.  10 years old, the new girl, & I began comparing myself to every girl I met.  I wanted to fit into this new place. 
I was always one of the smallest. As I grew older, so did my insecurities.  I envied the other girls who could fill out a dress and thought that no one could think that I was actually pretty because of the moles on my face. I started wearing cover up and foundation in middle school, as well as parting my hair on the opposite side than was natural, in attempt to hide the moles. I found some self-esteem from my ever affirming parents, and also from what I saw as my one strength.  I was thin.  Here's what I want to know...why did I feel the need to compare myself to other girls in the first place?  Why didn't I feel like I was valuable for THE PERSON that I am, no matter how I looked? Part of the problem was that starting in middle school, I didn't feel like I was good at anything, so I didn't hold my identity in any specific skill or talent. I had average grades and fought budding issues with anxiety.  I devoured teen fashion magazines.  I memorized makeup and body care techniques.  I thought that if I looked perfect, I would be perfect.  Looking back, I wish I would have poured all of that energy into my school work, my church, my family...anything, I guess.So, I'm a mom now and so...not.. perfect.  I've recently been trying to come to terms with having put on weight.  I used to compare myself to every woman in a room just to be sure that I was the tiniest.  It made me feel valuable.  I know, it's completely ridiculous, but it's true.  It's really pretty embarrassing to think about how shallow I've been.  I never thought less of others for being bigger than me, I just felt better about myself for being small.  For some weird freak of nature reason, I was super small after having my kids.  My body image was still warped due to the stretch mark tiger stripes covering my torso, but I was wearing smaller jeans than when I graduated high school.  Well, in the past two years, I have given up being a vegetarian, stopped going to spin class and been medicated with a variety of anti-anxiety drugs that have increased my appetite and slowed down my activity level.  Result?  3-4 jeans sizes.  I'm not the smallest person in the room anymore.  So, who am I?I'm discovering that I don't like wearing as much makeup as I used to because a big smile can look better than eyeliner.
I'm discovering that when it comes to my body, being healthy is what matters.  (Yes, I need to work on that!)
I'm discovering that being tiny doesn't offer me anything if I'm not happy.
I'm discovering that people like me no matter what size I am.
I'm discovering that I can be a better example than ever to the youth I mentor and to my own kids because I'm finally starting to grow up.
I'm discovering that the only strengths that I have to offer are the ones that are given to me by God for the purpose of encouraging others. That does not include being thin and constantly comparing myself to others.Wow, this post is pretty embarrassing.  Not because I'm telling anyone who reads it that my butt has gotten bigger.  It's embarrassing because I'm admitting how shallow I've been.  I'm blessed to serve a forgiving God.  I pray that God allows each of us to see the value that He has given us and that we will choose to share it with others. I hope that you don't struggle with your body.  But, if you do please know that God wants you to be confident for THE PERSON that you are and wants you to find JOY in creation and in other people.  I hope that me revealing some of my own baggage will help you know that you are not alone.
Can we try to let it go, together?  Please?
Trust me, a big smile is much lovelier than a tiny waist. [Hopefully coming soon---  the media and how it has affected my body image; more on minimalism; more on being old][I welcome your feedback and would love to know what you would like to read about]

 


Taylor Miller
10/01/2013 6:41pm

Rachel thank you so much for this blog post. This spoke to me big time. I identify so much with this because I have and still do struggle with weight and body image issues. It's reassuring to know that someone I have looked up to in my life and someone who I considered to be practically perfect has struggled with the same things that I have. We must all remember....we're not alone...and we're our own worst critic. I remember seeing something online that said strong is the new skinny and loved it. I too am finally realizing that a pant size or number on a scale isn't important. Confidence is beautiful, and so am I....no matter what lies those insecurities are feeding me. I value your honesty as well as your vulnerability. I can't wait to read more. :)

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Bobbi Buarns
10/01/2013 7:43pm

You are a total inspiration to every person, male or female, who reads this blog; especially to your mother-in-law who is so proud that you are married to my son. I love you to the moon and back.

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Vicki Yannie
10/02/2013 5:53am

Good stuff! An excellent book on the topic is "You Are NOT What You WEIGH" by Lisa Bevere.

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Katie Miller
10/02/2013 6:31am

Thank you so much for sharing. Its helpful to know that even the people you idolize as having the perfect body still have their own insecurities. As a person who has struggled with my weight throughout my life I would often look at you and think, "I wish I was Rachel's size." I would have never thought you had any body issues or insecurities, because to me you seemed like the ideal body type. But your blog shows me that we all have insecurities, even the people who we look at and think have it all together. So thanks for reminding me to be more comfortable in my own skin :)

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Lynda
10/02/2013 8:43am

Great piece Rachel. You speak for me and so many of us given the daily diet of messages we are subjected to from everyone. I take the point of your message is to be healthy and not focus on beauty and your body. Ironically, many of the email responses you received were reassuring you that you are "beautiful" - exactly what you want to get past. I call it internalized oppression. We must work to counteract those messages and your blog is a great step in that pursuit. I recommend the film "Killing Her Softly" by Jean Kilbourne who reveals how these messages work on us (great to use with teens). I also posted a piece not long ago about how we can shift our comments to our little girls from comments on their beauty and how nice they look to comments about what they are doing. It's a long road. I'm on it with you.

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10/14/2013 12:08pm

Thanks for a good read! It is crazy but I don't think women are ever happy with their body, hair, clothes, etc.. I especially love the quote from Emma Watson cause that is probably where I am at.. my body is figuring itself out. PS_ you do not look like you've had two (beautiful) babies!!
xo
Megan

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