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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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(Re)learning to love my body

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Whitney Veazey

I’ve skipped more lunches in my life than I would care to admit. Dinners, too. And I almost never eat breakfast. 

I stare at myself in the mirror and pinch the soft skin of my stomach, wishing I had the completely unattainable goal of a belly with no rolls when I sit. I have felt that way since I was eight years old, and it is a ritual I have continued on nearly every night for the past thirteen years.

I realized it was a problem when I lied to my therapist about why I passed out at a hair salon. It was nerves, I told her. I had just gone through a breakup and forgot to eat! Nothing was really wrong. I was just sad.

That wasn’t true. I had a big dinner the night before and felt bad. I didn’t eat a morsel of food for 24 hours. The pass out spell was partially nerves, but mostly my empty stomach. I had accidentally called my mom when I fell to the ground, and I couldn’t avoid telling her what had happened. My little sister had to retrieve me from the floor of the half-clean bathroom while I thought I was dying. She made me eat a burger from Wendy’s, even though I insisted I was fine. I haven’t gone back to the salon in the year and a half since.

I worked an internship this past summer. I often wore business casual clothing that hugged my stomach in a way that made the alleged softness of it apparent when I sat down. When the thought of “I look pregnant” popped into my head, I resorted to a handful of grapes in the morning and no more food until late afternoon. That would be all I ate in the day, with every calorie tracked along the way. I never quite broke 1,500 calories. I felt dizzy all the time. I nearly passed out at work and found myself sprawled on a bathroom floor all over again. I went back to work like nothing happened. I lost about ten pounds in a very short amount of time. I already had a small frame, but it shrunk further under my strict routine. 

I weighed 99 pounds in high school. I would compare any part of my body to someone smaller, hating every part of myself that was different. I don’t know where the hatred of my body came from. My mother always did her best to build me up and love myself. I would have spells where I did, but they would go away the second I saw something a little too big for comfort.

The self-hatred didn’t just extend to my body fat. Sometimes I would look at my face or my smile and feel like I was plain. I would immediately feel bad once the thought crossed my mind. I’m always told I look just like my mother, and I think my mother is absolutely beautiful. So why did the features she gave me look so different in my own skin? Why didn’t I like the features that I loved about her?

It took a lot of work to deconstruct years of body dysmorphia. Most of it was silent, as I didn’t want to admit the struggles I had gone through for most of my life. Some of it was spent hunched over a toilet, trying to keep my dinner in. My own mom didn’t know about it until I told her I was writing this article. Admitting you struggle with something as simple as eating is humbling to say the least.

I still stumble when it comes to progress. I find myself saying “you’re not hungry, you’re just bored” more often than I would like to admit. I catch myself looking at myself in my mirror and wishing I could erase the pocket of fat that keeps my internal organs safe.

But I also look in the mirror and admire the way my parents’ features came together to make me. I love the curve of my nose and the hands I got from my mom. I love the eyes I got from my dad, and the eye shape I got from my aunt. I love that, when I look at photos of my mom, I see a version of myself smiling back. I love that I look like my little sister in some ways, and my older sister in others. I love that my boyfriend has made my body feel worthy of the love I never gave it. 

I can now wear a tight-fitting dress and not feel self conscious. I wear sleeveless tops and don’t worry about how big my arms look (because they don’t). I don’t avoid looking at my frame when I step into the shower. Do I do yoga and pilates? Yes, but because they make me feel good, not because I want to be the weight of a child at 20 years old.

After 13 years of self-imposed abuse, I finally feel secure in my skin. I look forward to seeing how my shape and skin changes as I grow and change. Bodies aren’t meant to look 16 years old forever.

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About the Contributors
Emma Tanner, Editor-in-Chief
Emma is Editor-in-Chief of the Flor-Ala. She is a senior from Killen, Ala. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and digital media. She was previously Managing Editor for the spring 2023 semester. She also served as News Editor from Jan. 2022 to Dec. 2022. She was previously a volunteer writer. Her favorite topics to cover are profiles and local news. Tanner has written since her childhood and grew a passion for journalism during high school. Aside from working on the Flor-Ala, she was also a research assistant for a psychological study at UNA and served as CASE ambassador president for the Fall 2022 semester.
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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