I’ve stated previously that there are few and far between who truly know me on a personal level. Aside from some very close family, my husband and a friend or two I still keep in contact with from my younger years, there are only a handful of people who have witnessed some of my darker moments.
This probably comes as something hard to believe for a girl who shares half naked before and after photos all over social media, right?
That thought has crossed my mind a time or two as well. To be honest, it baffles me somedays. How on earth I am able to share some of the most VULNERABLE moments of my life (i.e. weight loss photos, deepest thoughts, hardest mental battles, my eating disorder struggles) with strangers on the internet but somehow keep such a small circle of “friends”. Honestly, I feel like sharing my story and struggles with the world is easier because I know someone out there is struggling with what I have been through or am going through. It makes the thought of being so transparent more bearable when I can believe that someone may benefit from hearing what I share. Meaning, if just ONE person gets inspired, is motivated or finds what little ole Lauren Berryhill has to say helpful in any way, then it is all worth it.
You know, thinking back on my high school, middle school and even elementary school days, I never recall being one of those people who felt like a big group of friends was what I needed. I most often gravitated to the “only having one best friend” mentality. I valued pouring myself into one person. I enjoyed being able to confide in a single individual and trust that they would keep what I shared between us. That’s what true friendship looks like, right? … I gathered early on after a few failed “best” friendships that maybe this wasn’t the best approach to socialization. Maybe I shouldn’t confine myself to just ONE friend. Putting all my eggs into one basket, as some would say. I learned some hard lessons when it came to having this preference on friendships; about myself and others. But the few times I attempted to be “apart of the crowd”, it felt wrong. I always felt like the relationships weren’t as valuable. As if it was just about the “looks” of having a big group of friends instead of focusing on the connections I was making (which was little to nothing). After a while, I came to the realization that no matter how hard I tried to force myself to be apart of the crowd, I was simply just a different bird.
Unpacking all of these thoughts is crucial for you as the reader to understand where I’m coming from as I further explain why I’ve found it is so important to love yourself along the way … of ANY journey. After years of dealing with self hate and body dysmorphic disorder, I NOW realize that the issues I faced early on with friendship (and pretty much through all of my young adulthood) was something truly internal that I was simply unable to recognize prior to my weight loss journey. Let me explain…
For years, I struggled silently with body dysmorphia or better known as body dysmorphic disorder as well as self hate. It intensified the older I got but started at a very early age. I get asked often why I felt such pressure to look a certain way at such a young age and my response is always the same.
The media. I blame the media.
Commercials constantly flashing photos of super skinny, rail thin females as their models or cast as actresses. The singers of my day were Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore (am I making you feel old? … oops). But in all seriousness, the older I got, the more sexualized these females became. Their skimpy clothes were designed to show as much skin as possible. The images of them and how they looked made me constantly critique myself and my appearance and wonder why I wasn’t small enough. Thin enough. Skinny enough. Why my hair wasn’t pretty enough. Why my skin wasn’t clear enough. Why I wasn’t ENOUGH…
It wasn’t until I started my weight loss journey, healing my eating disorder, working on my body image issues and developing a TRUE self care practice that I realized something that was evident all along: I’ve always been enough. ALL ALONG THE WAY, I was capable of loving who I was because I am something no one can say they are. I AM ME.
Now… One could look at me negatively for sharing “half naked” photos of myself on the internet and say that I am fueling the very problem that formed my self hate issues. You are entitled to your own opinion but let me be clear, I feel very differently. I will never feel the need to explain to ANYONE why I share the things that I do, because those who it impacts, understand why. Those that my posts resonate with, see it clearly. Justification for me sharing inspirational transformation photos will never been needed but for fun, let me enlighten you. My reasoning for sharing the most vulnerable photos of myself isn’t for pride. It isn’t for compliments. And it most certainly isn’t because I want to make anyone feel bad about themselves.
It’s about transparency. It’s about being seen as a REAL person. It’s about sharing the not so glamorous side of a 100+ lbs weight loss journey whether it be showing my stretch marks or loose skin that resides. It’s about spreading AWARENESS to women, girls, teens like me who have struggled their entire lives OR who are just beginning to struggle with body image issues. It’s about TALKING ABOUT IT. Getting comfortable sharing about a topic that for some reason, society feels like we should stay silent about. It’s about showing other people that they CAN achieve their goals if they stick to them. It’s SO much more than just a “half naked” picture.
All of these things…all of these reasons….It all comes down to one thing that I want each and every person who see’s my photos, videos, posts, etc to implement RIGHT NOW before they go another day hating their body: LOVE YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY.
You are a force. You are strong. You are YOU. And no one can take that away. If you are in a place where you are unhappy with your body, your job, your life. Whatever it may be…The process of growth and of change is MUCH simpler if you love yourself and who you are along the way.