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Embracing Imperfections: My Journey to a Healthy Relationship with Food and Body

My momma

In a world where society often scrutinizes our appearance, my mother stood tall, marching with purpose, and remarkably, naked more often than clothed. As a nurse, she saw the naked human body as just that - a naked human body, no judgment attached, merely appreciating its form and function. She was a larger woman, but her physique was a testament to her athletic prowess, sporting solid muscles that effortlessly commanded respect.

My momma was the epitome of coolness, not because she was lax with rules, but because there was an air of ease about her that radiated wherever she went. However, she had a secret desire - to be a smaller version of herself, yearning not to be big or labeled as fat. Throughout my life, she danced with Weight Watchers, sometimes attending, other times not, as her weight fluctuated like a rollercoaster. Oh, and Ayds, the infamous weight loss candy - that too found a place in our home. Ah, the 1970s - we were far from enlightened about the impact of dieting on a child's impressionable mind back then.

The chubby child

I was a chubby child, mercilessly teased by others, which led me to my first Weight Watchers meeting at the tender age of 12. As an eager beaver, I joined "The Contact Center," an adult-only fitness facility, all to experience the sheer joy of swimming. Like my mother, I believed that becoming thinner would be the key to happiness. Little did I know that this pursuit would foster a belief that my body was flawed and needed fixing, overshadowing all the incredible parts of me that others could see so clearly.

Food became a frenemy from a young age, divided into categories of "good" and "bad" instead of being savored for its flavors. I even took up smoking to curb my appetite and resorted to purging in my 20s - a twisted dance between indulgence and guilt. Trauma in my life fueled this tumultuous relationship with food - it both comforted and sabotaged me, serving as a way to avoid emotions I didn't want to confront. As life progressed, I embraced education and blossomed into a holistic therapist, determined to break the generational cycle. My children would be spared the burden of weight talk; instead, they'd learn to make healthy choices and view food as nourishment, devoid of judgment. The irony was that despite this newfound wisdom for my offspring, I struggled to develop a healthy relationship with food and my own body.

My children

Unbeknownst to me, my children were silently observing my battles - the diets, binging, midnight eating, and fasting - and internalizing that only a perfect body could be deemed "right." As I witness my daughter grappling with her stunning physique, it's easy to point fingers at social media. But deep down, I recognize that I played a significant role in shaping her self-image. I unknowingly taught her that she needed to be "fixed" and that her worth hinged on her appearance, leading her to believe that only a perfect body would make her truly accepted.

A new way forward

Yet, there's hope in this tale of struggle. Acknowledging our mistakes and actively working to change is a vital step toward breaking the generational chain. Together, my daughter and I are on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. We're fighting to embrace our imperfections and understand that our bodies don't define us; they're just a vessel to experience the world.

While I may not have received a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder, I recognize that my relationship with food and my body still requires daily nurturing. It's an ongoing process, but each day, I'm learning to let go of unrealistic standards and accept myself with all my quirks and uniqueness. In this pursuit, I've come to understand that humor and lightness are essential companions on the path to healing. Laughter is the antidote to our harshest self-criticisms, and it reminds us that life's too short to be consumed by superficial concerns. We don't need to be picture-perfect; we just need to be our authentic selves, lovingly accepting our bodies as they are.

Life's beautiful journey

So, here's to our journey, filled with humor, lightness, and the determination to break free from the chains of self-hate. As we work hand in hand, my daughter and I are transforming our legacy - teaching future generations that worth isn't tied to a number on a scale or an airbrushed image. In this pursuit of self-love and self-acceptance, we're paving the way for a world that cherishes everybody, appreciating the diverse beauty that resides within us all.

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