Intertwining Body Image Concerns with Health: Smita
As a kid, I was incredibly skinny and people constantly highlighted it. Lactose intolerant and susceptible to food poisoning, I consistently battled stomach pains and nausea. After catching a stomach infection, I lived in fear that it would manifest into an ulcer. As a result, I developed anxiety and struggled with confidence. The physical and emotional turmoil of an unhealthy body, especially at a young age, can be deeply jarring.⠀
Things began to get better when I turned 18. It was amazing. For the first time, I had perfect health. I started eating freely and gained weight. But the opinions of others shifted to say that I was “too chubby”. Regretfully, I succumbed to what others thought of me. I confused being healthy with losing weight. I thought that shedding weight would make me good enough. But now the same people were disappointed that I lost my curves.⠀
I was done. I stopped listening to unsolicited opinions and started learning more about working out and eating healthy. I could feel my body growing stronger every day and it did wonders for my rebuilding my confidence. At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I have been battling with IBS for the past 4 years. For those who don’t know, this condition has no cure or cause. There is no way I could have prevented it. I closely watch what I eat. Then last year, I developed a kidney infection. I hit rock bottom physically and mentally. I started feeling helpless and anxious, similar to when I was a kid.⠀
I’m doing a lot better now and have an understanding of what I can and can’t eat. I do have the occasional flare-up of anxiety when eating out. I am blessed with a great support system in my parents and boyfriend. They constantly remind me of my strength. My relationship with my body has been capricious. There have been days when I’ve felt extremely strong but others defined by resentfulness, helplessness, and anger. But I’ve learned that no matter how bad life can get, circumstances have a way of getting better. You just have to take care of yourself as best as you can. Strength comes from within you when you love your body unabashedly and unconditionally.