I’ve been talking a lot about authenticity on my social media platforms over the last few weeks. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of authentic is “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
Part of being authentic is showing YOU my true colors and being transparent. I’ve explained time and time again that I feel passionately about holistic health and self-acceptance, but I’ve never shared the depth of my passion. I thought I’d take a minute to be completely transparent and share with you the truest reason I started Build Your Beautiful and why I feel so strongly about the concepts I promote.
This journey started in high school. After a difficult experience I began to see myself as everything I was not instead of everything I was. At the time, I thought “I should do something about my challenge… something to make me feel better about myself.”
This “something” turned into eating healthier, exercising more, and focusing on myself. Seems great, right? It was great until it went too far and I became obsessed with accomplishing those goals. It all went downhill from there.
My obsession turned into an eating disorder. I suffered from anorexia nervosa for years.
What most people don’t understand about an eating disorder is that the disorder is about so much more than just food. Yes, the disorder manifests itself through food, but it’s not like someone can just start eating more and POOF they’re all better. I only wish it were that easy.
I suffered physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Some of these consequences are completely out of my control and may haunt me forever. I had an extremely low self-esteem, I had a disturbed body-image, and I was constantly self-consicous. I isolated myself from the world, I felt undeserving of love and acceptance, and I completely rejected myself. I was irritable, anxious, and terribly confused.
I used to prove my worth by the amount of food I ate and the number of calories I burned. I used to prove my worth by my jean size and the number on the scale. I’m here to tell you something I wished someone had told me long ago… those numbers DO NOT reflect your worth!
Abandon the bull crap you’ve been brainwashed to believe about perfection and beauty. Thick eyebrows and a thigh gap cannot buy the freedom that comes when you embrace who you are and your own imperfect journey.
Those strong legs allow you to run, jump, carry heavy things, and explore the world. Those freckles on your skin came from your grandma who also gave you your bright eyes and zest for life. Those intense emotions you feel allow you to connect with other individuals and show how powerful experiences can be.
You can focus on what the world thinks of you, or you can focus on what YOU think of you. The percentage of your time you spend worrying about what the world thinks of you is time wasted. The way you feel about yourself is what matters most.
Though I have come a long way, those unhealthy habits and tendencies haven’t completely vanished. I still feel obligated to check nutritional information on everything I eat; I still feel guilty sometimes when I eat because I’m hungry instead of at my “scheduled” times; I still feel self-conscious some days when I look in the mirror. Though these things are not innately negative, they can become negative if they are taken too far. I’m working to find that balance in my everyday life.
As a society, we rarely talk about the things that hold us back from becoming the person we want to be. The person I constantly strive to be is someone who is kind, loving, generous, healthy, energetic, and joyful. Keeping my challenge bottled up inside of me helps absolutely no one. It doesn’t help me obtain these desired attributes and it certainly doesn’t help anyone else fight through similar battles to become who they want to be.
It has taken me YEARS to get to the point I’m at now. Looking back, I can honestly say I’m glad I’ve had this experience. I’ve met so many wonderful and inspiring individuals through my struggle. I’ve found who I am and who I want to be. I’ve grown stronger and more confident. I’ve learned how to listen to my body and address my personal needs in a healthy way. I’ve learned how to express myself in positive ways; this blog is one of those ways.
The reason I created Build Your Beautiful is to encourage others who have a negative view of themselves to have a more positive self-esteem. I know some of you may feel like that goal is impossible, but I’m living proof it is possible. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, reach out to someone you can trust. I’m always willing to talk to anyone who reaches out to me! Transparency is what has helped me the most through my journey. The moment I started sharing my story, three years ago, is the moment I started making progress.
Putting yourself out there is never easy. Admitting you have a weakness is never easy. However, when you accept your challenge and face it head-on you open the door to a world of recovery.
There certainly is risk involved in putting your authentic, transparent self out in the world. I believe there is an even greater risk in withholding yourself and your gifts from the world. If there is anyone out there bearing a burden, please reach out to someone who can help. The road to recovery may seem long, but it begins with a single step.
“You may never know what results come from your action.
But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Dress: The Stock Place
Photography: Megan Turley Photo