It Ain't No Competition.
I’d like to start off my post by thanking Daphne for her latest post and sharing her body image struggle with us all. It’s never an easy feat but it’s such an amazing feeling once you get back in tune with your body! If you’re looking for her story, it’s called “Society Has Women Starving”.
Her post was not only courageous and informative. For me, it was also inspiring.
Every single person, regardless of age and body shape/size, struggles with body image one way or another. Yes, those confident gals you admire on Instagram? They’re insecure, too! Even when we see someone who looks perfect in our eyes, it’s important to remember that they have their fair share of body love issues, too.
While thinking about this, it got me on a major thinking-spree and set off thousands of thoughts and realizations. We are all struggling so hard each day, why are we so hard on one another?
What exactly do I mean? Body shaming.
It happens way more than it should. It also happens to everyone. Now, I’m not discrediting anyone who gets “fat-shamed”. It’s real, it’s tough and it’s intense how much it happens. I’m a lady who has been on 2 ends of the body shaming spectrum and it sucks. I know how it feels to be shamed for being “too skinny” and being “too fat”.
Little background story: If you’re an avid Healthy is Hot reader, you may or may not have lurked my social media accounts. If so, you may or may not know I am currently in remission for a “rare” endocrine disorder called “Cushing’s Disease”. It’s a highly complex disease involving either a tumour in the pituitary gland or adrenal glands. In a nutshell, wherever the tumour is, it causes excess cortisol to be released in the pituitary gland (a gland which helps controls pretty much every function in your body), causing the person to gain an incredible amount of weight, lose muscle, grow excess body and facial hair, lose memory and concentration, lose strength and so on.
Most of my life, I was pretty tiny. Around the ages of 14-21 I was only about 85-90 pounds – my weight fluctuated only between those 5 pounds. People always told me how skinny I was, as if I didn’t know. I tried putting on weight but nothing worked. I was always told to “eat something” or “go eat a burger”. “Where’s Catarina? I can’t see her”. On days my anxiety didn’t take over, I ate like a pig. Nothing would happen. All girls who constantly get told to “put meat on their bones” or “eat more”, know how hard it is to hear. Girls with low-weight constantly get told people don’t want bones, they want curves. At the end of the day? That hurts. A lot.
Fast forward to 22 – I finally start gaining weight. I think it’s because I’m hitting the gym, counting my macros and eating well. It never stopped until one day I found myself at 150 pounds. Say wuuhhh?! I felt so ashamed. No one believed I was working out hard at the gym.
Everyone thought I was eating poorly when in fact, I had cut my eating down immensely and started working harder at the gym despite having NO energy. I even went on a food sensitivity diet and gained 30 pounds in 3 months. Total WTF.
For months, I looked everywhere for clothing. Nothing fit. Not even plus-sized clothing fit my body. I would walk into stores I used to be an avid shopper in, and sales associates that once used to approach me, avoided me. No, it was not my imagination. They were avoiding me because they knew I couldn’t fit their clothes. I even caught a couple of associates at different stores whispering and looking over at me sneakily. It hurt. It felt terrible.
August 2016, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in my pituitary gland and that was my answer to what was going on. By the morning of my surgery, I was 188 pounds. WOAH. Upon research for my disease and many others, I quickly learned that people who others constantly call “fat”, may not be “fat” because they want to – a lot of times there is actually a medical reason behind it. Having experienced this, it really made me realize how real fat-shaming is and how badly it hurts. I always knew it existed and I always knew it was torture but feeling it was a whole other story.
My main point to sharing all of this was, let’s not be so hard on one another.
We don’t know what someone else is going through.
Body acceptance is already so hard; why would you want to make it even harder on someone else? Body shaming at all levels is real and although it’s a fantasy to wish it goes away (let’s be honest here – there are some nasty people in this world who will never change. It’s reality), we can do a better job of lifting others up and standing up for others when we see someone being mean.
And ladies, don’t be afraid to tell someone they’re making you feel bad! Some people don’t realize that their words are actually hurtful. I used to be scared to explain to people why telling me I was too skinny hurt me and how it is the same as shaming someone who is bigger than them.
Be healthy, smile, laugh and feed your soul whatever makes it happy. Easier said than done, but confidence is like a muscle: you have to work it daily to make it stronger. Sometimes your confidence is weak for a bit and that’s okay! You’re human, it’s bound to happen. Chat with friends, connect with others online sharing your similar struggles – find your special people and lift each other up!
PS. I wanted to share this with all of you babes to show you that even in the darkest of times, there will be a light and things will begin to improve for you. Struggle is brutal but it shapes you into the amazing person you are becoming. To all of you struggling in any way, keep the strength and keep pushing on!