I have a confession. I hate myself. I can list off the top of my head about 25+ of my faults. But it’d take me a while to try and think of one good quality that I truly know I possess.
I’ve been holding onto this photo for a couple of months. I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to share this private image. It’s private not just because I am physically naked, but because I’m emotionally naked as well. Being emotionally naked makes me feel much more vulnerable than simply having no clothes on does.
Over the past several years, and even more so recently, I’ve realized how important it is to initiate difficult conversations. Whether it’s about mental illness, systemic racism, LGBTQ+ rights, miscarriages, infant lost, rape, sexual abuse, eating disorders, self harm or self hate; these are all conversations that are swept under the carpet. So many people suffer in private.
I am crying in this image, because those 30 pounds of extra fat on my body justify my self hatred. I feel ugly, fat, unlovable, stupid, unworthy, a freak, a selfish “sonofabitch”, and the list of insults just go on.
I take these 30 extra pounds of gross fat and let them hold all of my feelings of unworthiness.
I am a binge eater. Right now, I haven’t binged in a few months. But that will change. Like an alcoholic, I will always be a binge eater. I can blame it on the fact that when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1987, was put on high doses of Prednisone for 8 years straight (and pumped with even higher doses every time I was hospitalized) and that medicine gave me an insatiable appetite. I can blame it on the fact that I was put on medically necessary diets for my Crohn’s disease – including being on a complete liquid diet for 10 weeks, which happened to fall over the winter holidays and my 18th birthday. My “meals” would get delivered overnight by Fed Ex. I had special “flavor packets” I could mix in to make them supposedly taste like chocolate, coffee, vanilla, etc. Being on such restrictive diets, I often felt deprived. I can blame my bingeing on the fact that my family (as most Jewish and ethnic families in general do) used food for every emotion – “Oh, you’re sad – have something to eat”. We have something to celebrate, “let’s eat”. But why I’m a binge eater is not really important.
It’s horrible for me. Not just for my physical health, but it reinforces every single bad thing I’ve ever been called, told or thought about myself for the past 44 years. It represents every single mistake I’ve ever made, every bad decision I’ve made, and every regret I’ve had and continue to have.
I know that many other people out there can relate. We just all keep it hidden. We’re too ashamed to admit we stuff our faces with food because we feel unloveable. We don’t want to admit that we do so because we’re so anxious that we’re hoping we can stuff down our feelings and numb ourselves into calmness or maybe even into a restless sleep filled with nightmares and heartburn. We’re too ashamed to admit that we hate ourselves.
We feel we must put on a brave face. We must pretend. We mustn’t “air our dirty laundry”. Or we want to present to social media that we are perfect (the perfect we imagine but doesn’t exist for anyone), our families are perfect, everything is perfect.
But life isn’t perfect. It’s time we started to have more difficult conversations. It’s time we opened up about our imperfections. The more we do so, the less taboo it will be. The more we’ll see that we are perfectly imperfect and embrace it. And the more we talk about uncomfortable subjects, the more people will be able to identify with them and feel less lonely.
So this is me. I’m completely transparent. I’m doing this for me, for others who suffer, because I’m working on liking myself but most importantly so that one day my girls will not ever feel this way, no matter what their bodies look like. Our children learn from our actions and body language. We must make sure we’re demonstrating self love. In order to do that, we must truly learn to love ourselves.
This is just the beginning of the conversation. Let’s start the dialogue. And let’s keep it going.
If anyone would like to message me, or Zoom with me or even have a Zoom or FB private group, please let me know. Let’s all support one another. It’s bad enough we beat ourselves up, but let’s not isolate ourselves, too.
Abrah, aka “Miss Z”, aka “The Baby Whisperer”, is a multi award winning and internationally published maternity, newborn, baby, child and family photographer. She offers business heads shots and teaches DSLR camera classes, photography editing classes and private photography lessons, as well. She’s always up to photographing pets – whether with their human families or by themselves. Her clients come to her from all over New England including Boston, Providence, Cape Cod as well as all over the Southcoast – New Bedford, Dartmouth, Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Marion, Middleboro, Wareham, Westport, Fall River, Somerset, Swansea, Berkley, Freetown, Taunton, Raynham and beyond. When she’s not capturing gorgeous images for her clients, she’s enjoying chasing after her two daughters and tabby cats, Sunny and Stormy. Abrah also enjoys listening to and dancing to 70’s and 80’s music and running (slowly) 5Ks.