What do you see when you look in the mirror? Five young women reveal their real-life struggles with their body. The pressure to be perfect pervades our culture. Women struggle with their presentation, their image, even their self-worth. In this episode, they share what they have experienced and how they overcome these pressures.
Kate Puckett: Body image has been one of those things that has haunted women for centuries. Women have aligned and associated their self worth with how they look on the outside. I did a bit of research, and makeup and cosmetic manipulation was first documented well over 7,000 years ago. Women before the ancient Egyptians were being made up in order to feel and look like they were enough for their gods. That’s 7,000 years of having to feel, to look, to be, something else. It’s exhausting. There’s nothing wrong with using outside resources to complement our natural beauty, but when it goes beyond that, that is where the curse plays out. Wanting to be something that you’re not, wanting to look like someone else, becoming obsessed with not being happy with the person you are, it starts to take control. It leads you on a downward spiral. You get caught up in it, in a web, until you can’t escape. It consumes you and not just the hours that you’re awake. My battle with my body and my image has been something that’s haunted me for years, since I was little. And it’s one that almost killed me. This is my story.
Kate: When I was 16, I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I felt like I was a burden. I felt like I had no worth and that there was no joy for me on this earth. One night I decided that I was gonna end my life. So I cried out to a God that I half-heartedly believed in for what I thought was gonna be the last time, “Where are you? Why are you silent? Are you even there? I’m here. I’m gonna end my life here. Where are you?” I didn’t expect an answer, and suddenly a Bible verse popped into my head, and it was so clear and at that point I had not yet read the Bible, so I had to stop what I was doing and go look up the verse. Matthew 28:20: “I am there with you always until the very end of the age.” And I just felt this peace come over me. God saved my life that night by letting me know that I was not alone, and I was never alone.
Kate: Something changed that night, and I felt this hope but it took a long time for it to show. First I had to push me out of the way.
Kate: When I was 16, I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I felt like I was a burden. I felt like I had no worth.
Kate: Go to the live chat right now to find out more about how God is always with you and how he will never leave you.
Kate: Ask anyone. Everyone at some point in their lives has struggled with body image. For some, the control lies in moving their features around with a snip here or a tuck there, using makeup to completely alter the original image. I mean, have you seen those YouTube videos? Two hours later, you can recreate a brand-new person. The end result looks nothing like the original, and then it’s two hours again to recreate the same image over and over again. And it’s not just about makeup changing what’s on the outside of us. It’s about us changing what’s on the inside. That’s where the control takes place, and that is where my nightmare began.
male: How can I be in a room filled with people filled to the brim and still feel alone?
female: I was obsessed.
male: We all feel alone sometimes. We’re here for you. This is why we’re doing this.
male: We’ve made it really easy for you to talk to someone anonymously.
male: He is the Creator of the universe, and he has your best interests in mind.
male: If you keep God the Father first, whoo!
male: Let’s stay connected in social media.
male: To be able to forgive somebody of something that they don’t deserve to be forgiven of.
Kate: From that moment on I began an uphill journey to recovery.
female: I am who the Great I Am says I am. He needs to be enough for me too.
female: For the support of a diverse range of individuals who are struggling or addicted to pornographies, don’t leave it. Chat now.
male: What they were telling me was what I needed to hear.
male: You can feel it right now if you wanna pray with me.
female: I felt it in my heart.
Kate: I’m gonna flash forward to my 18th birthday. I had just moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a career in music. It’s all I ever wanted to do was to be an artist. And I got here and not only was everyone insanely talented, but everyone was so beautiful. And the people I looked up to had the look. I didn’t know how to dress like these people, and I know that my body in my eyes didn’t look like theirs. Was that what was holding me back from being an artist? And so I began to exercise, sometimes two to three times a day, walking everywhere I went, even if it was miles away. And then I began to restrict what I ate. And suddenly, I’d lost 20 pounds, which at that point it was already way too thin for my body. I was in a competition with myself. How much further could I push this? How much control could I have? I pushed it further and further until I reached 83 pounds.
female: I was watching TV the other day, and I heard this woman talking about her eating disorder. My stomach flipped, and the room started to spin. What I had been doing had a name. She was describing me. I had never heard of bulimia before. I so desperately never wanted to get too big. I spent my whole life preventing that from happening. I love food, and I hate food. Food has become my nightmare. I’m so ashamed. I’m so tired of hiding this. I hurt from the inside out. My parents don’t know. I tell them I’m going for a run. I go down to the local grocery store, and I buy stuff, a lot of stuff. I have to time it perfectly. I need to make sure that what goes in comes right back out. I said every day that I was– Looked in the mirror, and I would say “Stop.”
female: I come home, I look in the mirror, and I tell myself “Stop.” But then there it is, that urge. The urge to eat and the urge to get rid of it. My mind keeps playing tricks on me. It seems to say over and over again. And then the inner emptiness rears up and shows its ugly face.
female: I think I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it. No one knows. Or everyone knows.
female: I don’t know how much longer I can live with this lie.
Kate: My mom cried every day, and she begged me to eat. I was sick every single day. I would pass out and hide it from my family so they wouldn’t force me to eat. I could feel my heart struggling to keep up with my daily workout routine. I knew what the scale said. I was dying, but there was no end result. I was searching for peace that never came. And then finally it hit the point where I sank down to 83 pounds, and I was rushed to the emergency room with chest pains, and I thought, “This is it.” And somehow I still didn’t care. This was still a challenge for me. I still wanted that control. My mom ended up taking me to a facility that specialized in eating disorders, and they weighed me and they asked me some questions about my daily routine. And they told her I wasn’t going to survive unless I went away to a facility in Florida for six months for treatment. And I absolutely panicked, because how could I go away for six months? I couldn’t play music if I was locked away in some facility. So I begged my mom, and I begged the doctor. I was like, “I promise I am going to get better. Please don’t make me go.” And they reluctantly said, “If you show progress that you can do this, then you don’t have to go.” And then I tried. I really tried. But it went on for another year. It was a roller coaster. I remember this one time I went to McDonald’s with my mom to get my usual diet coke. I heard this family whispering about me behind me about how emaciated I looked, and I didn’t react, but I will never forget what they said about how my clothes hung on me. I tried to get a part-time job to take my mind off of it, and I ended up having to quit a month later because of the relentless bullying from my co-workers about the way I looked. I heard every joke. I heard everything that they whispered about me. I realized I had created a monster, not only on the inside but one that was on the outside for everyone to see around me.
Aura: I was 19 years old, newly married, young, and pregnant. I had been running and running from so many demons, tons of drama in my life, loud voices just took over my thoughts, demanding my attention. I couldn’t stop them. They wouldn’t stop. I was out of control. I began eating my emotions, one bite at a time, all the way to 200 pounds. I kept excusing my actions. After all, I was eating for two, wasn’t I? That’s what I kept telling myself. My brother, he watched as the pounds rolled in. He said, “Aura, put the fork down.” I began to disappear. What was left of me was not me. I began stuffing myself, stuffing my emotions. I was in a spiral: no beginning, no end. I looked in the mirror. Who was that disgusting human staring back at me? I hated her. I hated myself. Then I got pregnant again. The cycle just continued. Loud voices saying, “Fat, fat, fat.” I was in a war in my mind. Then one day, in one life-changing day, I knew the cycle could not continue, not only for my sake but for my family, for my daughters. This mind-set could not go on to another generation. I heard these words. It was: “I am who the Great I Am says I am.” So I got this… I began to control how I ate. I didn’t let food control me anymore. I am who the Great I Am says I am. It’s what my heavenly Father thinks of me. It needs to be enough for me too. I’m working on it, one day at a time.
Kate: One night, I was playing a show in Ohio, and without prompting, the pastor and all of the students that I was there to minister to with my music, came and laid hands on me, and they prayed for me. And all I could do was cry because God reminded me in that moment that my body had become my master and that I had forgotten the one thing that he told me that night I wanted to end my life: that he was there with me always, that he had never left my side and that he never would. And from that moment on, I began an uphill journey to recovery. I now have a much better relationship with my body, and it is a journey but each day gets so much better and I have that hope in God that he is so much bigger than the lies that my eating disorder fed me. All I had to do was give him the one thing that I was trying so hard to hold on to: control.
female: Stronger lines, higher legs, straighter posture. As a dancer, I was told these things over and over and over again. And no matter how hard I tried, they always told me I could do better. And as a dancer, I’m surrounded by mirrors, showcasing all my flaws. And there are many. I see them all. I compared myself to other dancers. Maybe if my legs were as skinny as hers, then I could lift them higher. Maybe if my stomach was thinner, I wouldn’t have to suck in so much. Maybe, maybe, maybe. The maybes just grew bigger and bigger until the mirror started to tell me it was all because I wasn’t skinny enough. I started losing weight, but I felt that I was getting fatter. I was mad at myself. How did I let myself get this way? Until my rib cage began to stick out of my chest and my spine stuck out when I bent over. And finally, I was proud of myself. Everyone called me skinny. I loved it. I wanted them to say it again. I needed to hear it. I fought to keep it that way. Their words just fueled my fire. “Skinny enough” was my new goal. I couldn’t pass a mirror without standing with my feet together and making sure there wasn’t still a gap between my thighs, and if the gap wasn’t big enough to me, I could just restrict more. Skip a meal here, or eat a little less there. I had to be in control. If I wasn’t skinny enough, no one would ever go out with me. If I wasn’t skinny enough, I was gross and disgusting. I was obsessed. I was obsessed.
male: Hey, I am so excited that you are right here right now. I don’t know what it is that you’re going through exactly, but I know that when I was struggling what I needed most was to talk to somebody, but I was afraid to talk to somebody I knew. It’s just too personal. So what you can do, if that’s you and you feel the same way, we have people standing by right now that are ready to talk to you, that care about you, and you can literally talk to them about whatever you’re going through. So right now, click below. They’re standing by. They’re ready to have a conversation with you, and more importantly, they’re ready to pray with you.
Kate: Even when my family and everyone around me, including myself, thought my situation was hopeless, God knew the outcome. He was my true source of healing and joy.
female: I am always comparing myself to others, intensely comparing. Whenever I walk by a mirror, I hate what I see. I wish I looked like someone else, like those girls on social media or the girls on the front of the magazines. Whenever I take a lot of time to look at those magazines and social media, when I go back and look at myself in the mirror, all of my flaws are apparent. I look bigger than all my friends, even though everyone tells me I’m not. Can’t I just be tall and thin and tan? I wasn’t bullied. Well, not by my friends. I actually bullied myself. I know what God says about me. I get that. I know that he loves me. But I just feel like I’m stuck in a constant state of never happy. I have to take these thoughts captive. They can be so loud. I think about them every single day. I know that the girl that I think I see in the mirror is not who I am in Christ. I need to hear truth. Truth about myself, not these constant lies that have been whispered to me. I read this Scripture the other day that says that I can use God’s mighty weapons to knock down the devil’s strongholds. I have a stronghold army, one that I have allowed to surround me, and I know that. No more. I’m at war, a war against myself. I need God’s help and Jesus’s strength to get me through it, because without it, I’m truly powerless.
Kate: If you can relate to anything that you heard in this episode, I just want you to know that there is hope and that God has never left your side. He sees you, he sees what you’re going through. And he’s so much bigger than your eating disorder or the standards of beauty in this world. He’s so much bigger than all of that. And I just want you to pray with me: “Father God, thank you so much for every single person watching this. I pray that if you spoke to them while they were watching, if this is their story, Father God, let them know that it’s not finished being written, that there is hope. You are their hope, Lord.” Pray this with me: “Father God, I ask you to forgive me of my sins. I ask you to take the control that I’ve been so desperately holding on to. Father God, I believe in you. I believe in Jesus. I believe that he died for my sins. I believe that he rose again. And I know that he loves me, and he is so much bigger than anything this world throws at me.” If you just prayed that prayer with me, I want you to know that we care, and we wanna hear from you. There’s a link right below, and I just want you guys to know that God has never left you. He never will. He is with you.