I Had The Perfect Body — And I Despised Every Last Inch Of It

Photo: Kimberly Zapata
I Had The Perfect Body

You can be happy on the outside but screaming on the inside.

I've always been thin. Not rail-thin — I mean, there's some meat on my bones — but if you saw me on the street or jogging through the park you would refer to me as small. I have a small chest, small breasts, a small waist, and I'm small in stature. (My highest weight was 139 pounds and that was when I was nine months pregnant.)

It's just part of who I am; it's just the way I was built. But at some point in my life things started to change. There were things I needed to change, and being "naturally skinny" wasn't enough. My stomach could be flatter, my thighs thinner, and my cheekbones a bit more prominent. 115 pounds was fine, but I wanted to be 110. Then I wanted to get down to 105.

I thought losing weight would bring me happiness. I thought "if only I fit in this" or "if only I looked like that," boys would like me; I would like me. And like so many young adults, I became obsessed with being pretty.

I obsessed with the number on the scale and the tag on my clothes. I started stuffing my bras at 14 and skipping meals at 15 because I was determined to find the perfect boy to take me to prom in the perfect dress one year later. And boys wanted what I didn't have: someone who looked like they stepped out of a magazine and didn't just roll out of bed.

Unfortunately, finding a date and fitting into that dress wasn't enough because after prom my focus shifted to skinny jeans and our senior dance. Graduation came up a few months later, as did college orientation, Christmas, birthdays, holidays, and every day "days."

Before long I was counting calories, cutting out entire food groups, and exercising. Before long, my "diet" became a disorder.

But by 23 it paid off  or so I thought. On my wedding day I had what many would consider to be the "perfect body." I had long, blonde hair, hazel eyes (which turn a piercing shade of green with the right eye shadow), I wore a size 2 dress, size 7 shoe, a 34 B/C bra, and my measurements came in at an almost ideal 34-28-36.

On the outside I "had it all," but I didn't. I wasn't happy with my body, I wasn't happy with myself, and I wasn't happy — because I was sick.

What people didn't see were the tears I cried because I was hungry or the anger that boiled and raged within me because I wanted to eat — but couldn't. 

What people didn't see were the sleepless nights, nights where not only nausea kept me awake, but numbers: counting steps, counting calories, and counting the minutes, the hours, I had to wait before I could eat again. (Then computing the minutes and the hours I would have to spend burning said food off.)

What people didn't see were the times I jammed fingers in my mouth; the times I shoved toothbrushes down my throat in an effort to get rid of the guilt (and calories) an errant mozzarella stick or Oreo cookie caused.

Being thin may not sound like a problem; in fact, most women would probably give anything to have had my weight or my measurements but the grass is always greener. You see, I hated the person super skinny, "perfect body" me became.

I hated how it made me obsess over things like workouts. I hated how much time it made me waste Googling caloric information for each and every stitch of food I put in my mouth (from apples and cherry tomatoes to a spoonful of sugar in my iced coffee). I hated always feeling hungry.

I hated that my insecurities were making me a slave to "the scale" and most importantly, I hated how losing weight also made me lose my mind.

At my lowest point, I was working out two or three times a day. I was eating jars of Gerber baby food and drinking nothing but water and black coffee (because I had to stick to my 900 calorie-a-day diet). I was starving myself. My body was feeding on itself, all in an effort to be "perfect."

Even when I got "skinny" (when I reached my 105 pound weight goal) I still hated myself. I still wasn't perfect enough. My collar bones didn't pop like Mary Kate's and my thighs were way thicker than Nicole Richie's.

I know there's no way to say "I'm skinny" without sounding completely condescending. I know you may be rolling your eyes. I know you may be wondering why this little b*tch is complaining when there are bigger problems in the world  real problems. And I know when I tell you I weighed in this morning at 102 pounds that any empathy you may have had for me is going to go out the freakin' window.

But what I want you to know is that my weight then — my weight when I was 23 and "perfect" — wasn't natural, and in my case, wasn't healthy. 

Today, things are different. Sure I'm still small but my thinness is thanks to a balanced lifestyle and genetic luck. I eat normal meals. I run regularly. I practice yoga weekly.

But the damage still lingers. I still struggle to love myself. I still struggle not to find faults with my body. I still find my mind wandering and my anxiety rising in moments of weakness (or after a heavy, family-style meal).

But I know one thing: While my "perfect" body may have given me beautiful wedding photos and a textbook bikini body, it didn't give me happiness.

It didn't make me me.


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