“Look how fat your knees are! Your legs look awful and you have fat hanging over your kneecaps! You should cover them up.” my Uncle said to me in disgust.
That was my first memory of someone (an adult that I trusted) criticizing my body. From that day on (I was 14) to this very day (I’m now 41) I struggle to bare my legs in public. I don’t even like to look at my legs bare in the privacy of my own home. For decades I have felt ashamed of my legs and the way they look. I feel this way not because I should ever be ashamed of my body for any reason, but because of the words that someone else spoke to me. This was said to me at the dinner table in front of my family and unfortunately no one stuck up for me. No one told him that what he said was horrible and wrong. Instead I remember sitting down at the table feeling so awful about myself and that’s the day my journey with self-hate really began.
I’ve wanted to share my story with an Eating Disorder and mental illness for so long now but have been terrified and afraid to do it because of the judgement that comes along with it. I am a people pleaser and a perfectionist, who as a young teenager was abandoned by my father and lived in a home with alcoholism and physical abuse. My home life was a daily disaster that severely affected my mental health. I always felt like the bottom was going to fall out from under me because it always did, I was anxious, scared and I had no control over the awful things that were happening around me.
In my late teens and early 20’s I fell deep into my eating disorder and used it to have a sense of control over my life. When I started to lose weight, I would receive praise and told how great I looked from everybody. I was hearing positive things about myself and that felt so good. It was the first time in my life that I felt good about myself and like I had accomplished something. But in reality, I was very sick, starving myself and felt worthless.
When you have an ED or Disordered Eating it takes over your whole life. Every thought, every look, every THING is revolved around your ED. It’s like living in a prison, but it’s a self-made prison. I was lucky though. I met an amazing human who fell in love with me the first time we met, and he has been there for me every single day since then. He has helped me to see myself for who I really am and gives me endless support in all that I do, and when I became pregnant with our son, I finally realized how AMAZING my body is. I mean, I created an actual human being inside my body. That’s pretty incredible!! It was from that point on that I realized my worth in this world and have made it my mission to heal myself and recover from my Eating Disorder.
You might be thinking, but how and what does this have to do with jewelry?
Over the past 10 years I’ve been more open about my struggle with an Eating Disorder and through this openness I have learned that other women I know have also struggled. Once I started to listen to them and hear their stories it made my heart ache. But it also made me realize that because I have a brand and an audience (even if it’s not that big) and this little space on the internet, that it’s really a responsibility of mine to open up to you all and share. By sharing my story if I can help just one other person out there know that they are not alone and that they deserve to live a beautiful, joy filled life too, then I am proud to be writing this and posting it for all to see. Every now and then I receive emails from you, (my amazing and loyal customers!!) telling me that you admire me and look up to me. These are the most loving and special emails, especially because you always tell me how the jewelry you’re wearing helps to make you feel more beautiful and confident. Your feedback means the world to me and I want you to always know that Brooklyn Designs is a place where you belong and are loved. The jewelry I make for you is meant to bring out those feelings and to bring more confidence, joy and love into your life.
I love The Real Housewives franchise and this season of RHONJ there is a discussion about Eating Disorders that carries on throughout the season. Jackie Goldschneider opens up about her long and scary battle with anorexia and how she finally got help and saved her life. Taylor Swift also opened up about her ED on her new Netflix special. And this morning I read an article by Elana Fishman
about her Ed struggle. I read and watched all of this over the past couple of days and it really inspired and compelled me to share my story too. I admire and look up to these women for sharing and caring enough to make themselves vulnerable in hopes of helping someone else.
My ED is something that I don’t forget about and must check in with myself every now and then to make sure I’m still on a good, healthy path. When I walk past a mirror, I make it a point to NOT look in it and see how flat my stomach looks, or what my knees might be looking like at the moment. I no longer punish myself through my ED, and I look at food as something to be loved and enjoyed. My body is also something that I honour instead of punish and starve. When I see myself in the mirror I only see good things and refuse to let my mind take me to a place where it doesn’t belong. I can honestly say that I have recovered. It took me 10+ years to get here, but I made it.
The National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
is coming up this February 24st -March 1st
and I want to get the word out! You are not alone; we are not alone and there is help out there. Getting help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you BRAVE and STRONG. Loving yourself and taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is something that we should all be doing every single day. Self-love is very important and as women we tend to leave ourselves as the last one on the list to care for. Self-love is not selfish, self-love is necessary. Self-love is the kind of thing that will help you throughout your life in more ways than you could ever know.