When I turned 16, I found myself in rehab for anorexia. I was in outpatient rehab for a little less than a year. Even when I was released after having reached my target weight, I still carried the anxiety of eating certain foods. Each day was a battle of politely finding excuses to avoid situations that might force me to eat pizza or ice cream. I would only be calm when I knew I could be alone, in complete control of what entered my body.
Self-love goes beyond its definition: it is trusting yourself to make hard decisions and being confident that they are the right ones. It is accepting that life will put you in situations that will make you grow developmentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Self-love is admiring every curve, stretch mark, birth mark, freckle, scar and blemish that you have because they are a part of you, and your story.
Body dysmorphia is a mental condition in which a person believes a part, or parts, of his or her body is extremely flawed. I didn’t know there was a name for what I experienced, or that anyone else experienced it too, until just last year. As a teenager growing up with the lack of heavy-handed social media influence (from 2003 to 2010), I never really had a problem with my body. Of course like any human on this planet, there were things I liked and disliked about myself, but I didn’t think much about it. I knew I had a larger than average Italian nose, hips for days, was shorter than all my classmates at a whopping 5’ 1”, and that my skin wasn’t the best, but I still had confidence. I knew I was a good person and took care of myself, and that was enough for me.