#MyBodyIsEnough-Maria's Story

It has been a dream of mine for a long time to be able to have people share their stories about struggling to love and accept their bodies. In sharing stories, not only can we be vulnerable and build connection, but we can also encourage others to do the same!

The first story that will be shared is Maria's. I will take one story a month to share with y'all. If you are interested in sharing a story of your own, please email me at rachel@racheltenny.com. Enjoy Maria's story!

Do you ever look in the mirror only to see that the mental picture you had of yourself is not the image staring back at you? This feeling is usually accompanied by a sigh and then starts the internal struggle trying to decide if you should switch outfits or decide if this is “as good as it’s going to get.”  I normally take a step back to contemplate if it is really the outfit or my body that I am struggling with.  So I twist and turn, look up and down, and it just does no good, my thoughts don’t change.  The list of names I call myself goes on and on from frumpy to short to chubby, stumpy, top heavy and so forth.  The feeling of never being enough started back when I was in elementary school.  My body “developed early”, which made me a prime target for bullies.  The other girls could wear training bras and meanwhile I was the random, awkward kid in gym class with an actual bra.  The girls snickered and once we got up to gym class the boys had their turn at poking fun at me. The teasingnever ended.  I’ve never really been comfortable around boys because somehow they always manage to either spend the entire time staring at my breasts or commenting on them.  Needless to say, my childhood experiences greatly impacted my aversion to the gym and that is why I don’t have the washboard abs I see in my mind when I think about being toned and fit. Short people, I decided, should NOT have large breasts and a tummy roll.  Short people should be petite, lean and fit and have perfect perky breasts like all the other girls. When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, all I saw were the things that I was and should not be.  Since there’s nothing a person can actually do about having large breasts, short of surgery, I decided to just make myself fit into what all the other girls are wearing.  This thought process started to serve as a double whammy because not only did I hate my body because it was different, I also hated by body because it refused to conform to what I wanted it to be.  So there I was crying because I couldn’t fit into my dress that I ordered in a size extra small knowing full well that I wouldn’t fit into it and in denial that I might need a larger size.  I was in denial that I should wear a bigger bra size and kept trying to squeeze into a size smaller, everything would hang out and I would get even more upset.  I stayed away from bikinis (summer is the worst season for those of us who feel like we are “less”) and leaned towards the one pieces, hating myself for looking like an “old woman”.  

My whole life I’ve been trying to change my body to fit into these tiny clothes or hiding myself when I didn’t fit with no way around it.  I decided to lose weight because if I don’t fit into a size small the obvious solution is that I must change my body and make it fit (was I ever wrong about that!).  So I started on a mission to lose weight and be “pretty.”  I threw out all the carbs, sweets and potato chips, which is depressing because anyone who knows me knows that I love all things potato.  Then the panic sets in because what does one eat when there’s literally nothing appetizing to eat?  What’s for breakfast if not carbs?  I was always hungry and light headed from hoarding all my allotted calories for the end of the day so I could have a chocolate bar (which defeats the purpose I know).  I freaked out over how many calories an avocado was or the amount of calories in peanut butter.  I got mad because my husband got ice cream and all I could have was an apple.  Yet somehow, when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what I wanted to see.  I still only saw frumpy and stumpy and flabby.  Just everyday and in every way possible I felt badly about myself and I was so tired feeling this way.  

One afternoon, during a moment of trying to distract myself from wanting a donut and having carrots instead, I came across Rachel Tenny’s website. Her blog and her mission really resonated with me because she seemed happy and comfortable but in a very real and attainable way and I wanted to that.  I wanted to love my body, I just didn’t know how.  It didn’t fit inside this box that was labeled pretty that I had created for myself.  I started to realize that I was unhappy because I was always striving for this “perfect” image that I had in my mind.  Is it really as easy as just accepting my body?  It’s more than that.  It’s seeing my body as beautiful.  It’s smashing the box labeled “pretty” and giving that label to my body instead.  So I started to take some baby steps and these last few months I’ve started to make a real effort to NOT make an effort.  I’m not counting calories anymore. I’m back to enjoying breakfast again (waffles are the very best thing!!).  If I want some ice cream that my husband picked up I WILL have it.  I stopped buying shirts in a small size and embraced the larger size.  I threw out all my bras and spent 2 hours in the store getting ones that actually fit me and found that they’re actually super comfortable when you’re in the right size.  

I’m still working on it.  I’m not perfect.  I still sometimes go through my newsfeed and feel badly because I will never be that girl that has a t-shirt that falls just so nicely.  Sometimes I find myself buying the larger size (because it’ll help cover my rolls or my butt) or opting not to buy a v-neck because that will show off my cleavage, BUT I’m a work in progress.  Years of feeling like I was “less” ate away at my self-esteem and I know that I can’t fix that overnight.  I always turn to this amazing community that’s been created here with the My Body Is Enough movement and I feel like the weight lifts a little bit.  I’m not alone in my struggle and that helps!  Loving yourself is a full time job friends and its one that you should give yourselves credit for.  Don’t let the tag on your clothes define who you are!  Reach out into this community and know that you have support here and that I’m cheering for you.  Embrace who you are!  As for me I’ll be over here with some celebratory waffles and toasting in your honor with my coffee.  If we all love ourselves, everyone else will have no choice but to do the same!
— Maria M.