Imago Feminae: Image of Woman


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Shirley's Voice

Body image is an issue with which I have struggled for many years. During those years my eating has been very disordered, ranging from self-starvation to out of control eating (binging). In the past I made attempts to "compensate" for a binge, either by not eating for a while, by exercising excessively (and obssessively), even by sticking my finger down my throat until I threw up. Now I've just given up on compensating and I just binge. Food is a friend in times of lonliness and a comfort in times of depression. As a result I have gained about 45 pounds within a 3 year period. The more weight I gained, the more I hated myself. And the more I ate. My weight has leveled off now, and I've managed to lose about 15 of those 45 extra pounds. But, my body has still been my enemy. I have been thinking a lot lately about myself as being made by God. I have only recently been able to look myself in the eye in the mirror and to look at my body obejectively, unclouded by self-loathing. After all, how can I hate something created by God and so loved by Jesus? My spiritual life received a big wake-up call not too long ago, giving me a much needed spiritual kick in the ass. I realized that my body image is inseperable from my spiritual life, since we humans are both body and spirit. I also realized that I have used both food and the pursiut of thinness to fill a spiritual void that only Jesus Christ can truly fill for me. Looking back at my "thin" days, I can't believe I thought I was fat. I look at the clothes I used to wear then and they seem so small. I'm moving toward the pursuit of wellness, rather than the pursuit of thinness. I can eat healthy food and work out reasonably to be healthy, to clear my mind, to nurture my temple of God. I can seek Christ instead of food. My eating disorder(s), which I refer to as the monster, is still a part of me. But, I've learned to see it as the scared little girl that it is. It will always be part of me, but maybe it can be healed. So, where does all this leave me now? It leaves me with the knowledge that I am body and spirit, than my body is not enemy, and that my eating disorder is not really a monster. It leaves me with a deep need to seek Jesus Christ and my Self.

Shirley, 25 years old