To the Women in My Life..
Although the majority of my life I have suffered from other forms of mental illness, I have never had an eating disorder diagnosis. Having many female family members who have suffered from chronic dieting and disordered eating, I was always conscious of my body and my weight but never acted on changing it other than by trying to stay as healthy as possible. Growing up in an environment where everyone around me hated their bodies and resented food was difficult and hard to understand. I remember at a young age pondering thoughts of why they thought their bodies were so awful and horrendous when I saw all of these incredible women to be so beautiful. These are women who have overcome experiences of family members passing away, cancer, diabetes, divorce, mental illness, abuse, and poverty… how is it possible that they could see themselves as anything other than strong and beautiful?
I am writing this letter to every woman in my life who feels they are not thin enough, strong enough, beautiful enough or in general good enough. I get it now. When the world is constantly telling you that you don’t fit the bill of what a woman “should look like” it’s hard to feel okay in your own skin. Each day I battle with these messages that are in the media and on social media, along with my own insecurities about my body. As I grow up I struggle more than I ever thought I would with loving myself the way I am, and I know this comes from the fact that I have never seen a grown woman who truly loves herself and her body completely. I often ask myself if it is even possible to do this?
What I have genuinely come to realize is that despite what the world around me is telling me, I am good enough and so much more than the body that was given to me. When I asked my friends, family and partner what they loved about me; not one of them said my body, my looks, or my figure. It was my heart, my kindness, my determination, my work ethic, my sense of humour, my clumsiness, and my drive to help others. THESE are the things that make me beautiful and make me, me. So to every woman in my life who has never felt beautiful or good enough in their own skin let me tell you: you are the only person in this world who doesn’t see your beauty and worth. When I look at you I see nothing but strength, determination, kindness, warmth, radiance, and beauty both inside and out. Your body and how you see it is not who you are, it is not what defines your beauty. You are and always will be so much more than your body.
I know this letter won’t change much, but I do know how many people love and cherish you all, and hate to see that you don’t feel the same way about yourself. So if you can take one thing away from this know that others see you as being good enough, beautiful enough, and strong enough and worthy enough.
Alyssa is an Outreach and Education Volunteer at NEDIC and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about body image and self-esteem and will be spearheading a new research project for NEDIC in the next school year.