My Body Image Story

Here’s my brief but real story about me and body image.

I started to think about how my body looked to everyone else right around 15 years old. Luckily, I had never thought about it too much in middle school and for most of my freshman year in high school. Just to give you a little idea of my body, I’m 5’4″ and kind of petite. I was always one of the smaller girls in my group of friends. I think this might have worked against me later on, as I realized that being thin was how my friends identified me. I felt like I wouldn’t be Laurie anymore if I gained weight.

This is me (left) and my best friend back in junior year of high school. I was the happiest I’ve ever been and also the heaviest I’ve ever been. In this photo, I was probably around 122-125. I was aware that I was bigger than I had ever been but I didn’t care– I had a great group of friends. Horses and band H-U-G-E part of my life. I didn’t have time to stop and think about losing a few pounds, especially because I was still perfectly healthy.

Right before my freshman year in college, I started a relationship with a guy that fractured my life. The college I went to my freshman year was in New Jersey and about a three hour drive from my boyfriend. I got into one of the best horse training schools in the country. But, my life was a living hell for most of the entire year and by the second semester, he had my under full control. I drove home every weekend to see him. I left at 4:00am on Monday mornings to get back to New Jersey for my 8:00am class and I quit my riding team so that I could leave late Thursday nights instead of after team practice on Friday mornings. My body didn’t change much my freshman year– but mentally, I was in shambles. And that’s where disordered eating starts. Due to a horrible mentally abusive relationship, I lost all my friends, believed I was a whore, thought I deserved nothing, and ended up transfering to a near-by college only 45 minutes away from my boyfriend. Two weeks into my sophomore year, I broke up with him. For a year and a half, I had been submitting to another person’s control and had alienated myself from all my friends. I had no one. So, I kinda let loose for an entire semester.

I’m not going to lie– I had a fun time that semester. But it wasn’t me. The college party lifestyle never suited me and I knew it. After one too many late  nights, I started to figure myself out. But that meant a life that strayed away from all of my party-going friends. I, again, was alienated. I had no social skills to make new friends because the voice of my ex was constantly screaming at me that I was no good and unwanted. I wasn’t worth it. I started to have serious problems with my weight, body image, relationships, and disordered eating for the next two years. I dropped about 20 pounds, unnaturally, and started planning my day-to-day life around food. I remember the first time I purged. It was the scariest night of my life and after I had done it, I never cired more. The feel of no control killed me. From there, I stopped riding due to financial problems and never rebuilt a friend base. I lost all passion in my life.

This is me and my sister about a year and a half ago at her baby shower. I was probably at my lowest weight–around 105–and at a particular personal low. Friends and relatives came to both my mother and me to say that I was looking too thin and a little “sick,” but for some reason, I was satisfied with those remarks. It wasn’t a good time in my life and I was trying to overcompensate for my depression through keeping busy with events like planning my sister’s baby shower.

Now, at 22 years old, I’m slowly accepting myself. I still have mental symptoms of my disordered eating and body image issues. But, I’m on the right track.

I fell in love with history and I’m applying to Master’s of Art in Teaching programs to become a certified secondary education social studies teacher. I’m also pursuing my interest in Native American history, which I think is sorely lacking in our school systems. Saving grace? Realizing that giving back makes you feel better than any number on a scale ever could.  I started tutoring city high schoolers and founded an organization on my campus.

I have some pretty hilarious friends.

I gathered up some courage and studied in France for a month.

I vowed to myself to return to riding as soon as financially possible. God, I miss it.

And, I’m generally a happy gal now. 🙂

It’s a daily challenge. I have a couple medical issues that I deal with every day, too. I have a problem keeping my iron level up (as, I know, many women do) and severe issues with food allergies and a tempermental stomach that often makes a fun evening go to hell. Still, I’m working on it, day by day. Listening to my body and working with my body. My weight varies but sticks to about 115. It’s becoming easier to say that gaining 5 pounds is no big deal. I exercise for health, not a number. And I’m beginning to accept who I am. Each day, I’m one step closer to loving myself that much more.


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