Seriously?  I heard that or something similarly derogatory over and over for years.  I laugh now when I think of the days that were filled with nothing but angst over what the scale said, how many more miles I could walk or how many more sit-ups I could do.  Sure, I may have been a size two but that wasn’t enough.  The desire to be even smaller consumed me.

Looking in the mirror was something I rarely did. When I did, I only saw pockets of fat that protruded from my body.  Bumps and ridges, that no matter how often I exercised or how little I ate, would not go away.  Imagine my shock when I realized that the bumps along my ribcage were actually my ribs.  You could count them – they were perfectly outlined.  Through my eyes it looked like cellulite.  Convincing myself that is what it was, I worked out harder and longer. I wore a bra two cup sizes too big in hopes of masking my fading breast size. Not to mention thinking that a bigger chest would create a balanced silhouette to hide the ribs that in my eyes looked like back fat from behind.

I remember the day that I realized that the protrusions coming from my hips were actually my bones and not fat. Laying on the floor crying in a heap – not because I was grateful they were my bones, but horrified because there would be nothing I could do to make them any smaller.  I sobbed harder in total disbelief that this is what my life had been reduced to. How did it come to this?

I wish it was a glamorous story like I was a ballerina trying to make the cut or a Broadway actress trying to get a new role.  My story is not unusual and nothing special as it turns out.  I was married to a man that preferred pin up girls and porn stars to the plain girl next to him who would do anything to please him.  Years of his thousand-yard stare wondering which woman he was thinking of, while his body went through the motions destroyed how I felt about my body.  Fifteen years of rejection is a long time and after I divorced him the dissatisfaction with myself physically became all-out body loathing.  I clung to a deep-seated hatred because it felt like my body had betrayed me.

This wasn’t just something that added time to my daily exercise routine. This body loathing moved into all areas of life including professionally.  As a business owner I needed to grow my business. Oh but that would mean I would be attending events and one on one meetings and that felt horrible.  I wouldn’t follow up with potential clients.  I didn’t call people back when they asked me to speak to their organizations.  I was quickly sabotaging my business and my bank account was dwindling every day.

I craved the online world of social media because you can make a profile picture look great even if you don’t.  A shiny photo is still rather anonymous and so much better than meeting people face to face.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to support my family at all if it had not been for my online clients that really only knew me as a pretty profile picture.  When people started requesting to use Skype, I would only agree if we didn’t use the video.  I had the face and the body for audio.  I wanted no one to see me.

Is this an extreme? Of course, it is.  This was my life though for a long time.  What is so beautiful now is that as I have climbed out of the body image hell hole, I can see how extreme and destructive my behavior and thoughts truly were.  As I fill in my rib cage and have something to hang on to besides my pelvic bones, my body has certainly changed.  I am not always convinced that the change is for the better, and I still have moments when I look in the mirror horrified, because now there really is cellulite that I would much rather have go away.  The win is that I am looking in the mirror and not falling apart in a big heap crying on the floor.  Besides, I am way too busy being productive, useful and serving my family, clients and community to concern myself over if my butt looks too big.

When I stopped being consumed with my appearance, I found a surge of energy and creativity to use on my business.  I wasn’t afraid to interact with clients.  I started attending networking events and speaking engagements.  My business is growing steadily.  All the time and energy I wasted on trying to shrink my physical body, only attracted more scarcity and lack.  I didn’t see the abundance in my life.  Since recognizing my abundance – to include a body that has curves – the outcomes are quite unbelievably good.  It seems too easy of a trade off some days, but I am so grateful to be on the other side of an anorexic mindset.

It wasn’t until I started talking about how I felt about my body that things started to change for me.  I realized I wasn’t alone and there were resources available to help me see myself in a different way.  On March 9th, Rochester Media Association, is hosting a showing of Embrace at The Little Theater.  Taryn Brumfitt is a mom on a mission to help women around the world embrace their body image and love themselves.  I know that I am not the only woman in Rochester that has suffered at the hands of negative body image.  Let’s start talking about it.  There will be a panel discussion following the movie with experts who can share a unique perspective on body shame in our community.  To reserve your seat, please visit,  I will be there that night and I am really looking forward to seeing you and being seen by you that evening!

Sheila Kennedy, Author, Publisher, and Marketer at The Zebra Ink, writes about the stories of our lives that get twisted until we don’t know what is true anymore.  Sheila unravels the stories that do not serve us and limit our success.