To the Girl Crying in the Fitting Room Next Door
I hear you, you are seen and you are loved for more than what you see in the mirror in front of you.
Right now, you may be flooded with the negative thoughts you know so well, thoughts that distract you from what is true. Your insecurities may be making you unable to see the beauty within rather than what is being reflected in the mirror. I wish there was a magic button I could press that would take away all of your insecurities and allow you to be filled with gratitude for your body. You, my love, are more than your body.
I pray one day you can look in the mirror and say, “Dang. I look good!” I believe that day will come. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe years from now. But I truly believe it will come. It can come. I know it to be true. When that day comes, I know you will feel a sense of relief. The war inside your mind will be quieted and peace will permeate the depths of your being. This moment is a moment to fight for. Fighting for this moment involves embracing our bodies. The fight can be long and tiring. Sometimes you may question what you are fighting for.
You are not alone.
I too, have spent many shopping trips in the fitting room crying. I had spent years at war with my body, struggling with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Until six months ago in third round of treatment, every waking hour of my life was filled with insecurity regarding my body. My one, beautiful body. I lacked empathy and gentleness for myself, which resulted in another downward spiral of symptom use. I am still struggling with accepting my body, and I wish I could say I love myself to the absolute core of my being. The last thing I want to be is hypocritical. I acknowledge it can be hard to love ourselves for all we are. I want you to know I understand. I want you to know I am feeling this with you. I can tell you that you are more than your body until I no longer have air in my lungs. I can tell you there is so much hope that is yours for the taking. And if you can’t find hope right now, I’ll give you some of mine because I have so much hope for you.
Today I am closer to freedom than I was three years ago. Words cannot describe the pain that can come with struggling with an eating disorder. Recovery is something I have to choose every single day, no matter what emotions I have and no matter what crisis appears. Recovery involves putting myself first. It is not selfish, rather it implies I am worthy enough to live. Taking care of our bodies and listening to its cues is a very brave thing to do. Every day we must make a conscious decision to care for ourselves, and that means caring for our bodies as well as our minds. We have to choose over and over again to love our bodies, flaws and all, until it is no longer a choice and more so a fact we believe to be true for ourselves.
I wish so much I would have knocked on your fitting room door to tell you all of this in person. That is what I would have wanted when I was in your position months ago.
You see, we were never created to alter our bodies to fit the clothes we so desire for our bodies to fit in. I encourage you to find items that make you feel good! Because honestly, this is all that matters. And just like a scale, a mirror cannot show you how beautiful your heart is or how incandescently loved you are or how brave and strong you are for simply being a human in this society.
Beautiful girl, you don’t need to change yourself to fit the picture that is inside of your head. You were created to be set apart, different from those around you. You were created to be you. No body else could be just like you. That is pretty special.
Every body is beautiful. Whether we are a size small or extra large, I believe our bodies are still a temple, a masterpiece of God. I pray the next time you go to try on a new dress or a pair of jeans, you would know you have a body with a beautiful soul. No article of clothing could make your heart more beautiful or your soul more kind. Because it is what is on the inside that matters. You deserve to live a life free from distorted body thoughts.
As I think about the moment when I heard you crying in Target, I think about how messed up society is. I’m sorry if what is reflected in the media triggers you into thinking that you have to look a certain way in order to be loved. You do not have to feel shame for what you look like. I praise God for you today. You are worthy of living.
You are seen. You are heard. You are so worthy of every good thing this world has to offer. You are more than that distorted fitting room mirror. There is only one you.
“And I said to my body. Softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’” — Nayyirah Waheed
This post originally appeared on The Odyssey.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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Thinkstock photo via erreti.