Embracing positive body image is difficult for a lot of us.
I remember, as a little girl, begging God to make me skinny. I would cry myself to sleep and when morning came, like a kid on Christmas morning running down the stairs to see what Santa had brought, I would run to the mirror with excitement to see the new me. As I stood before the mirror, I thought, “God you didn’t hear me.”
I love my sister, Rose. When she hurt, I hurt. When she won, I did too! She’s the reason behind the rose tattoo on my arm. I’ve admired her all my life. When I close my eyes, I can clearly see her beauty, her curly hair, her skin, and her body, as if it were yesterday. I’ve never seen a woman quite as beautiful as she is in my eyes.
When we were in high school, I used to love to go back-to school shopping for clothes with my sister and mom. It was so much fun shopping for Rose. She shopped in the junior department and was always so trendy.
One of my favorite outfits she wore was a long tan colored skirt that shaped her hips beautifully. She wore it with a fitted black long sleeve turtleneck top with black boots. She always wore her hair up with a few ringlets falling down and makeup so soft and natural. I know because I was the one who styled her hair and applied her makeup every day before school. I was infatuated with my sister and the way she looked. She was what I longed to be.
At the age of 9, I reached a weight of 160 lbs. By 16, I was 180 lbs and wanted gastric bypass surgery. My doctor denied the surgery and immediately put me on weight loss medication. I took weight loss pills, exercised, dieted, starved myself, and even attempted to vomit my food just to be skinny.
Between the ages 19-20, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 295 lbs. I was disgusted with what I saw in the mirror. I wondered how a man could ever want me or find me attractive, or even love me. I decided to make a second attempt to get the gastric bypass. And I got it. I felt like God was finally listening to me.
I lost a total of 150 lbs. WOW – it was everything I prayed and longed for. I loved the shopping and the healthy lifestyle that came with it. I promised God I wouldn’t take for granted the blessing he provided.
But, as fun as the new me was, there were still some issues I had to deal with. In some ways, I felt so much better. Yet in other ways, I was still a kid when I stood in front of the mirror.
As much as I loved who I was on the inside, I still didn’t feel my exterior matched. The dramatic weight loss left me with a lot of excessive. It deformed my appearance when I was naked. Once again, I found myself disgusted with what my eyes saw in the mirror. I wondered why I just couldn’t be the woman I wanted to be. As much as I fought to become HER, something kept holding me back. There were more hurdles to jump over.
Time went on and I decided to look at the options for removing all of the excess skin. I spoke with various plastic surgeons. The thought of being able to close this chapter filled me with excitement and joy. For the most part, each plastic surgeon had similar concepts on how to go about removing my excess skin. As I sat back and analyzed each appointment I had, I knew I wanted to go with Pacifica Institute in Camarillo. But one question kept coming up from each surgeon, “Do you want to have kids?”
At that time, I was married but kids didn’t seem part of my plan. The more I thought about it and the more I fell in love with my husband, it eventually became clear that growing our family was most definitely going to be part of God’s plan. So as much as it hurt and as discouraged as I was, I had to allow the door on plastic surgery to close as the door to motherhood began to open.
Over 10 years passed and so much happened. I became a mother of two boys. My business grew quickly and significantly. And I moved to another city. But most importantly, my body that I had been so disgusted with became my best friend.
I learned to love my body just the way I saw it in the mirror. How? Well, having kids changed the way I think of my body. It made me realize how powerful a woman’s body is regardless of what it looks like. My children loved me and my body regardless of its appearance, which is huge because a child’s love is like God’s love.
I then began to thank God for having two arms, two legs, my hands and feet, ten toes and fingers, both my boobs and a bum to sit on. I began to find undergarments that made me feel attractive, sexy, and that empowered me because nothing was going to get in the way of me loving the body God gave me.
However, in September 2019, I felt ready to reopen the door to plastic surgery regarding my excess skin. So back to Pacifica Institute for a second consultation. Everything went great and before I knew it, I had my post-op and surgery date. Holy Moly!
A few thoughts then entered my mind,
- “I’m finally going to have perky boobs and a flat stomach.”
- “Is this really going to happen or is something going to get in the way to put a halt to it.”
Fast forward to the night before my surgery. As I sat in my room, I closed my eyes and thoughts came to me of all the pain I endured as a kid, and even as an adult, for being overweight – the name calling and being made fun of for not looking “normal.”
But not only did I think of all the painful memories, I also thought about how good my body had been to me. It gave me two kids and has kept me going in my career for 15 years. It has allowed me to love a man passionately as I never thought was possible.
I finally reached a point where I genuinely loved myself and my body. I wondered if having this surgery was betraying my body.
That night I held myself so tight, I didn’t want to let go. I cried.
“Am I making a mistake? I love my body. It doesn’t look that bad.”
Calling to HER
As these thoughts began to take over me, I asked God, “Am I doing what you have called me to do? Did I decide solely on my own or did I include you? Did I pray enough about it?”
I needed an answer so I looked to my Bible. I read where I last left off before and instantly within the first sentence, God spoke to me.
“What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”
HE allowed this door to open and it was time. No one is or will be able to shut this door he has opened. I felt comfort, peace, and courage to walk through the door that the Almighty One opened and to never look back. It is true that God’s timing is perfect. I went to bed with anticipation for the future of HER. Goodnight.
So, These are the Lessons
There are two things I learned along this journey that I want to share:
First, learn to love yourself inside and out. Become best friends with your body. Be good to your body – it’s the only one you were blessed with. Don’t be something that you’re not and don’t desire to be someone else. You will lose yourself. That was a mistake I made. Rather than illuminating myself, I became a shadow. You are beautiful and perfect exactly the way God designed you.
Second, when you think a door has closed, remember that in time and with prayer, God will always bring forth the desires of your heart. Never give up. Keep pushing forward. What I’ve learned on my walk with the Lord is that typically when I think the door is closing, that’s exactly when he opens it. He will open the door and when he does, walk through it with courage and confidence. Never look back.
- Are you guys able to relate with this?
- Have any of you had body image issues?
- Have you ever been disappointed when a door has closed?