My parents recently decided it was finally time to clean out my childhood bedroom and bathroom after over a decade of things remaining untouched. They want to create a place where my children, their grandbabies, can play and have sleepovers.
I opened my bathroom vanity to check if there were any bows or hair clips my daughter might enjoy before everything went to the resale shop or dump, and there they were: the glass bottles of weight loss drops.
My heart sank for my teenage self. There I stood, as a 115-pound, size two 15-year-old in front of the mirror placing appetite suppressant drops under my tongue twice a day.
I remember the bitter taste, but more than that, I remember the bitter feelings of inadequacy.
My mom has been on a never-ending quest to lose an elusive 10 pounds. I cannot remember a time in my life when she was not talking about cutting calories or weight loss, so it was no surprise to me when my parents started taking these drops that promised the results they longed for, they included me.
Now that I am an adult woman and a mother, I see that when my mom told me I “looked like a stuffed sausage” in my first pair of skinny jeans, she was really projecting her own insecurities. Her own insecurities filled her up so much that they spilled out onto me without her even noticing.
Just last week, a stomach virus ran through our family, and my parents were exposed. My dad’s first sentence was, “At least this will kickstart my fast, and I will lose a few pounds!”
His words stopped me in my tracks because I realized that weight loss was also my first thought when we caught the virus. Those thoughts are so deeply ingrained in me that I often don’t even recognize when they come in.
It is no wonder I struggle with my own body image issues.
I have so many years of negative messages regarding weight and bodies that I have had to unpack and work through, and I still have days when I have to reset my mind and choose to think differently.
If I could go back and speak to my 15-year-old self using weight loss drops, here is what I would say:
Your worth will never be found in your weight. Losing or gaining weight is not going to give you the confidence you are seeking.
Body dysmorphia is real. Find a therapist and get the healing you deserve.
Your body will have a natural resting weight. When you stop yo-yo dieting and let your body balance, it will find a weight that feels good from the inside.
Check-in with your body. Your body has loved you and served you in every season of life. It is time to love it back. If your body asks for food, give it food. Stop depriving your own body of its basic needs.
One day you will look back at these pictures and smile and cringe at the same time. You will smile because you looked great back then and were surrounded by people you loved, and you will cringe that you ever believed any differently.
Throw away the scale. Seriously, throw it away. One day you will go years without owning a scale just to reset your brain from analyzing the change in ounces from morning to afternoon. Get rid of it. I promise you do not need it.
Clothes are meant to fit your body, not the other way around.
Women’s sizes are stupid. If your size changes store-to-store, it is because the manufacturers need to work on consistency, and it has nothing to do with your body.
You know those huge window signs in the mall with scantily clad ladies in undergarments? One day that store will nearly go out of business when the world wakes up and declares that enough is enough, and women of all shapes and sizes are worthy and beautiful. The secret comes out.
You looked great in those skinny jeans.
To my own daughter, I promise to build you up in every way.
I promise to work on my own weight-related triggers so I do not pass any of my insecurities down to you.
I promise to never comment negatively on other women’s bodies.
I promise to help you grow your own confidence in every area, so you never have to feel like your worth is in your waist size.
I promise to love myself exactly as I am and to help you do the same.
The cycle stops with me.