Whenever I make a comment about how much I've eaten, my roommate always says, "I'm proud of you!"

Given my past of dieting, and starving myself in order to be socially presentable, this is an incredible statement...on both ends. 

It's been three years and here I am: eating, healthy, with friends that care about me, and the ability to care for myself. 

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm proud of myself too. 


When I was walking home from class a few days ago, I passed a group of girls about to go for a run. Their conversation consisted of all of them stating the amount of pounds they needed to lose, and how excited they were to achieve the individual goals they set for themselves. Yesterday my roommate and I decided to make cinnamon rolls to have for breakfast this morning. We finished around midnight, and then invited our other roommates to have some too. As I walked back to my bedroom, I heard them mention the concern they had for eating the cinnamon rolls on top of the amount of calories they had already eaten earlier that day. Both experiences, caused me to think about the role numbers play in our lives.

For the longest time, my happiness was determined by my dress-size, the calories I ate, and the amount I weighed. I realized too late that dwelling on those things was like living in a hamster ball. They trap you in a transparent case that allows you to see and move around life, but not live it (also, it gets smelly after a while...).

One of the most important things I have ever been told is that the only number that matters is your IQ. Now that I look back, I wonder how many of my problems, and the problems of other girls, could have been solved by being told this sooner our lives. From my own experience, I feel that body image and self-worth are learned behaviors. As little girls, we're force-fed the idea that we have to be "pretty", with little emphasis on being smart. We're complimented on the bows in our hair, rather than our problem-solving capabilities, or intelligence. I'm not saying that it is a completely negative thing to value one's appearance, but I feel like if, as a society, we built a foundation for girls based on their internal qualities, rather than their external appearances, a lot of self-perception issues would be solved. Ironically though, in doing this we only drive ourselves back to determining our worth by a different set of numbers.

Going back to dresses sizes and such, I can't help but think about an experience I had a few weekends ago while at the General Women's Meeting for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I've mentioned before how I struggle with comparing my body to those of my sisters and cousins; well, those issues resurfaced while I was with all of them at conference. Before I left to meet up with them, I thought I looked adorable in the outfit that I had chosen out, but as soon as I was in their company, my self-esteem dropped, and I was fighting tears for the entire night. I took a picture with my mom and sisters, but when I looked at it afterwards, I felt like a giant both in my height, and weight. At one point in the night, in tears and in desperate need, I sent a text to a friend that said:
"I can't do this. I'm surrounded by petite size 2's at a restaurant. My family's genetics are messed up. I don't even know where I came from."
 It seems like no matter how far I move away from my eating disorder, the traits that eventually led me down that path never quite left my system. I honestly don't think they ever will, like acid, they've eaten away at me creating a void within my conscience that constantly demands to be filled. We all have our own battles to fight, and my biggest one will be against myself.

During the General Women's Meeting, I wrote over, and over again in my sketchbook that "my size doesn't determine my worth" in hopes of convincing myself that those words were true. I struggled throughout the rest of the meeting up until Dieter F. Uchtdorf began to speak. One paragraph of his talk stood out to me more than anything else that night, he said:

"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?"

In an instant, I knew he was right. I was created by a perfect being, and therefore by that fact alone, I too was perfect.

Have you ever realized that out of life's millions of possibilities, you exist here in this time, and this moment? Have you ever realized that out of the 7.125 million people alive today, and the 108 billion that have ever lived upon this earth, you were born as you are now? Have you ever realized that God decided to create you, and thought of you as something worth creating? Whether you believe in God, or not, you are an undeniable miracle, a statistical anomaly. You have a body, and because of it (regardless of appearance or size) you have experienced life in all of it's tragic beauty. Your personality, experiences, and "flaws" set you apart as an individual; no one has been, or ever will be you. Your scars mark that you've lived your life: you're a survivor. Because of all of this, the way you look doesn't prevent you from being important, and it definitely doesn't take away the privilege of being able to live your life happily, as you choose.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that we need to put the world and ourselves, in the infinite perspective of the universe before comparing our current state to a few, meager numbers (or individuals) placed before us. It may be hard to do since we're always our harshest critics, but:

"I promise that as you do so, you will discover your best self—your real self."