Dear Kelly Clarkson:
I understand. I’ve struggled too.
My size bounced up and down in high school and college as I experimented with extreme weight loss methods. Secretly, I wanted to be bulimic, like you were in high school, but I couldn’t make myself throw up. This felt like failure to me.
I finally got the bathroom scale to cooperate when I was in my twenties. Somehow I thought that becoming “thin” would take the pain away—make me feel better.
Yet, I experienced that same frustration you shared. Still unhappy on the inside, I felt compelled to keep working and striving to stay skinny. I can’t imagine how much greater that pressure would have been if I was a successful pop star.
Neither did I have a manager in my ear encouraging me to keep my weight down. Those voices inside my head that screamed, “You only have value if you’re thin. No one will love you if you gain weight again” were loud enough.
This strain bogged me down every day. The pressure to count every calorie and log enough hours at the gym to cover every food “sin” stifled my joy. Life felt overwhelming. I see how thoughts of suicide could sneak in.
Sounds like you’ve been able to turn things around. Now you know you are just as valuable at your heaviest as you are at your thinnest. But, there are so many women still battling. So many women still believe those lies they hear like,
“Your life would be better if you looked different.”
For some it’s not a weight issue. They obsess over another body part, wishing they had a smaller nose or bigger bra size. People say to just “love your body,” but for those of us who’ve wrestled to even like our bodies, that’s a monumental task. Our fixation on what we need to fix, improve, change, tighten, lose . . . it robs our ability to enjoy life.
I’m thankful that God, in his grace, rescued me from the beauty treadmill. He freed me from my compulsive dieting, over-exercising, and even from trying to love my body. Instead, he showed me that loving my body wasn’t as important as loving him. He taught me to tilt the mirror up, and start reflecting his glory instead of trying to find my own.
And, most of all, he freed me to stop chasing beauty and start living out the purpose he had for my life. Turns out God didn’t give me the body of a Victoria’s Secret model because he didn’t create me for runways and photo shoots. Yet, my thick-thighs and short fingers support me just fine as a writer. He even led me to write a book for women like us who struggle with body image issues.
It’s not always easy. Every morning I have to remind myself that my value doesn’t come from what the scale says. Whenever my jeans feel tight or I see a model in a fashion magazine, I have to repeat these three mantras to myself:
- Thin doesn’t mean happy.
- God made my body for a purpose.
- My true value comes from God and what he was willing to pay for me, not my size tag.
Kelly, thanks for your honesty and courage. We women need to hear that we aren’t the only ones who struggle.