Confession: my initial thought seeing her was that I need to lose more weight.
And immediately after that, I wanted to smack myself. You see, there's about a 2 year span of my life when I don't have a single photo.
And it all started after this. I was in France for an exchange program and gained way too much weight in just 7 weeks. This was taken halfway through, so I probably added another ten pounds. I came home and the first ting my mom said to me was, "What happened?" She couldn't believe how much weight I'd packed on so quickly.
I spent senior year of high school monitoring my eating and lost about 30 pounds, bringing me back down to the 120s. I was pretty happy. I have cute photos from prom, from graduation parties, etc. Then I went off to college, and about halfway through freshmen year, the pictures stopped.
Over the next two years, I managed to hate myself skinny. I thrived on calorie restriction and coffee. I at one bagel every day, half for breakfast and half for lunch, and then a lean pocket for dinner. I averaged 500-700 calories a day. My lowest point (mentally and physically) hit when I was 96 pounds. At 5' 3" that means my BMI was 17.0. If you stood that version of me next to Rachel, I would have looked well-fed. But I will never forget my mom wrapping her hand around my under arm, her fingers encircling forming a complete circle, only saying, "Oh, honey," or the way I could see down my pants because my hips stuck out so far from my stomach.
And this is why I am concerned for Rachel on the Biggest Loser. I know how unhappy I had to be to get to my lowest point. I fear she's on a slippery slope here. I hope she can find a healthy balance.
Today, I am angry. Angry that NBC has said nothing as of yet to address any of this, angry that the only positive reactions I found were from Pro Ana websites, angry at myself for that moment of self-loathing that threatened to emerge.
But I am also happy. Happy for the other contestants who had success, happy for Tumi who looked fabulous and FIT, not sickly, and I am happy with myself that I now recognize the negative, unhealthy attitudes as being just that. I am happy I have found my balance. I am happy that I accept my body rather than reject it. I am happy that I can see the scale and not let it dictate my day. I am happy that I've gained weight - yes, gained weight (3 lbs) since upping my protein intake- since I know that it means I've upped my muscle tone. My skinny jeans still fit. The number no longer defines me.
Rachel, my biggest hope for you is that you find happiness. Not external happiness like winning, or a number on a scale but the kind that comes from within. The kind that can't be measured.
I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support system throughout my family. They are part of how I began to heal, but most of it had to come from within. It took years to get where I am today.
If you are having trouble, please seek help.