Kimberly Moncada, 31, Long Island, NY

This year, as part of our Take Back The Beach program, we are asking YOU to tell us about your experiences with body talk and self-perception. Below, one reader's story.

"Are You Sure You Need Another Slice?"

My family has always been big into birthday celebrations, and food was often a fixation at these family parties. It wasn't uncommon to hear the women in my family in particular making comments like, "Oh, I'm not hungry — I'll just pick," and, "I just want a VERY small sliver of cake, not too big — I have to watch my weight."
For as long as I can remember, the women in my family have been weight-phobic and food-focused. My parents divorced when I was 5, and my mom remarried when I was 14. I have one blood-related sister and, eventually, I unwillingly gained two additional stepbrothers and a stepsister.
This one particular family party will live in infamy in my mind and serve as a reminder of how far I've come with body acceptance. We were celebrating my 15th birthday, and my cake of choice was a vanilla funfetti cake with sprinkles, my absolute favorite. After I blew out the candles, I got to cut the first piece. I enjoyed every single bite and went for another slice. As soon as I reached for the cake, my stepbrother, who was three years older than me, spewed out, " Are you sure you need another slice?" Those words cut like a knife, right through my heart. I felt my face get warm and I wanted to crawl under the table. I slid the plate away from me and nervously laughed, never letting on that, inside, those words were circling around my head. The truth was, I didn't need another slice, I wanted one.
I never talked about that moment with anyone, but for a while after that, each time I wanted a second serving of dessert, I would stop dead in my tracks and think about those cold words. Looking back, I'm sure my stepbrother didn't intentionally mean to hurt me, but that experience was a pivotal moment in my long battle with disordered eating and body image issues.
Thankfully, I've learned that, no matter how much you weigh, whether or not you want a second (or even a third) serving of dessert is no one's business but your own. I have encountered plenty of other bullies in my life in school, at my job, and even in relationships. Unfortunately, there will always be bullies, but today I have a much healthier relationship with my body and food. It took many years of working through these issues, but now I have the tools to stand up to any kind of bully.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
#TakeBackTheBeach essays are meant to reflect individual women's experiences. They have only been lightly edited (if at all) by Refinery29 and do not necessarily reflect the company's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Have a story of body image and self-perception that you want to share? Submit your essay to our Take Back The Beach contest here.

More from Body

R29 Original Series