By Kirby Trahan 

I stare at my perfect baby girl, playing so innocently on the rug with her favorite stuffed doggie, no cares in the world. My heart is filled with love. Yet in a moment, I’m transported to feeling sadness. 

Why? Because it’s just a matter of time. I’m not sure that I’ve met another female, no matter what size, who loves her body completely and without criticism. This idea scares me deeply for my daughter. How will she navigate the natural tendencies we already have to critique and compare ourselves and our bodies with the added facade of filters and Photoshop that rule our current world?

A memory flashed into my mind: I pulled my car down a side street, grabbed my bags of fast food and walked into the woods. For the next 10 minutes, I stuffed my face with fried chicken, fries, burgers, tacos and downed it with a Diet Coke. It tasted so good. Then, I took one more look around to make sure I was still alone and stuck my fingers down my throat. Leaving trails of vomit all over the dirt, adding fingers to get it all out and make sure all the shameful calories were removed from my body and nothing was left. I felt lightheaded and dizzy as I made my way back to the car to head home for dinner with my family. I was 15.

I look further back. I’ve always been “bigger” than my mom. I was in elementary school when I realized this. She never told me I was. But she hated her own body and told me that. She hated the body that fit into jeans two sizes smaller than I ever would. She was then and barely is now a size zero. I look back at pictures from then, and of course at myself now, and get lost in how irrational the idea is that I ever felt so turned off by my body. 

I became bulimic around 10 years old. I couldn’t suppress my appetite like my mother, so I had to get rid of the food that would make me any “bigger” than I already was. By high school, it became a sport. A hidden talent. I’d go to my favorite spots and gather food like the world was ending, eat it all secretly and then rid it from my disgusting body.

Why is it so damn hard to accept every inch of ourselves? Why can’t we look in the mirror naked and appreciate the perfectly imperfect bodies we are so lucky to have?

I’ve finally learned to love my body. It took years of opening up and discussing our sickly skewed reflections with close girlfriends, and ultimately, therapists, to find my peace. Two kids later, I know how strong I am and am proud of what my body can do. Being female is powerful. I’m sure I will battle the rest of my life to stay off the devil that is a scale, but I can now look at myself—all of myself—and be ok with it.

Wear your stretch marks like the warrior queen you are. Rock that two-piece regardless of your lack of a six pack. Wear that sexy lingerie, or refuse to, if the brand advertisements tell women they have to look like Gisele to do so.

I started putting notes on my bathroom mirror that remind me every morning why I’m beautiful and worthy. I Read it. I Believe it. I make sure to take those words with me every day and remember to love myself. Every imperfect inch. 

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