For the Love of My Mom Bod

It was 1993. I just finished fifth grade and moved to a new neighborhood. My legs dangled on the side of the neighborhood pool. I gazed down at my swimsuit. It was a lime green bikini with a killer 90’s design. It had two small zipper pockets on the sides of its bottoms (because you know bathing suit pockets simply make good sense.)

It was my absolute favorite bathing suit, until that day. As I sat at the pool’s edge, I did not see my favorite swimsuit with killer pocket space. I saw belly rolls – big, gross, nasty rolls. My body went from being a vessel to carry me through life to becoming an object I despised, an object that would define my self-worth.

It would not be until years later when my body hatred evolved into a full-blown eating disorder. For the next fifteen years, I lived in the darkness and secrecy of my eating disorder. My illness masked by fad diets and excused by our disordered eating culture.

My eating disorder stole some of the best moments of my life – even my wedding day.

Fueled by the desire to find recovery and become a mom, I quit my job and entered treatment at 29-years old. But I did not want to be any mom, I wanted to be a mom who led by example. I wanted to be a mom who put on her bathing suit and literally ran on the beach with her children.

One day in treatment my therapist, Christy, asked me, “McCall, what does recovery look like to you?” I immediately replied, “Walking on the beach in a bathing suit.” Every beach and pool memory I had was tainted by my eating disorder – whether it be with a crash diet or covering my body or not even going and missing out on life’s best moments.

My simple reply to Christy’s question was not motivated by having a perfect beach body or looking like a Victoria’s Secret model, but to finally be free from numbers and living my life free from my eating disorder (and society’s perfect beach body image.)

A few months later, I took that walk. Sure, it was scary, but I knew it was necessary. I tied on my bikini and took my not-so-perfect sized body on a beach walk.

It. Was. Glorious.

I finally felt FREE. Sure, I was scared, but did it anyway – and guess what? No one pointed or gawked at my body. Because NO. ONE. CARES.

Eight years and two children later, I still have that talk with myself from time to time. I might be a positive body image speaker and advocate, but I still have my moments with my body. But every time I am doubting my beach bod, that day in treatment crosses my mind.

I have a choice to make: put on the damn bathing suit or be the mom who sits covered up watching her kids’ best years pass her by. And I’ll be damned if I am the latter.

My kids don’t care what size I am or when my soft stomach rolls up when sit to make sand castles. They just want me there.

I have so many moms who tell me, “McCall, I never say anything negative about my body in front of my kids!”

McCall Dempsey
McCall Dempsey
McCall Dempsey, founder of Southern Smash, is an eating disorder survivor and passionate recovery advocate.  After a 15-year battle, McCall sought treatment at the Carolina House in December 2010. Since then she has made eating disorder awareness and prevention her life’s work and passion. McCall travels the country, sharing her story of hope and healing with audiences everywhere. McCall also writes the popular blog, Loving Imperfection.  Her writing has been featured in various national television, print and online publications, including Today Show, Women’s Health, Southern Living and Huffington Post. A Louisiana native, McCall now resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with her husband, Jordan, and her two children, Manning and Marjorie.  

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