There were moments during this photo shoot when I felt good — actual moments when I thought, Maybe my body isn’t as bad as I think it is. Maybe this woman is right when she keeps telling me I look amazing and that I’m gorgeous. Maybe, for once, I should believe it when someone says this to me.
Those moments were brief and gave way to pure embarrassment, terror, and disbelief about the fact that I was sitting there bra-less, in my underwear, and letting someone photograph me. These photos would be shown to the entire internet and, even worse, to the people who know me. But just the fact that those brief positive moments existed shows I've made great strides in my healing process.
I have been embarrassed by my body for as long as I can remember, and I have been hiding for just as long. For most of my life, I hid behind my weight. I suffered from a severe binge-eating disorder, and at age 19, I weighed over 300 pounds.
At that time, I barely left my house. I was humiliated, and for good reason. As much as I hated myself, society kept telling me that it was valid to keep doing so. I would be shamed at job interviews or even just walking down the street. The worst of it came from a two-year fight with my health insurance company, which did everything it could to keep me from getting help — despite suicide attempts, prediabetes, and the beginnings of sleep apnea. To my teenage brain, this translated as I am not worthy.