As a young chubby girl, Amanda was frequently teased at school for being so.
“I remember hating school on so many levels. I pretended to be sick a lot and then I’d end up back at home alone watching hours of television and eating whatever my mind told my body it wanted, perpetuating the vicious fat girl cycle that is, eating to comfort the sad feelings about being the fat girl and, in turn, getting fatter."
At home, Amanda’s mother was also consistently battling her weight. Bouncing from one fad diet to another, losing weight, only to gain it back, and never being happy with herself.
“My mother’s relationship with her body was my first tangible example of body image and like any young girl who looks up to her mother, I watched and learned from her every move and emotional turn.”
Despite having trauma from childhood sexual abuse and an eating disorder in her early teen years, navigating her years in high school was as normal as most American girls. She found photography and with it, a supportive group of friends. Yet, she struggled with her weight and body image.
“The next decade of my life mimicked the last. Losing weight with sorrow and then gaining it in distracted happiness. I worked insanely hard to ‘get skinny’ for my wedding and then I ate myself through a blissful first year of marriage. After a depressing move for work, I took up running to fill the endless hours my husband was gone, only to get pregnant and gain over 80 pounds….and so on and so on.”
Now, after 16 years of marriage, giving birth to three boys, surviving the death of her mother, a major surgery and overcoming years of chronic illness, Amanda has found peace and confidence.
“My body and all it’s flaws tell the story of my life. As the years pass I grow more accepting of myself and more comfortable with my body being a physical imprint of my history. I am less and less concerned about the outside influences that once dictated my self image. There are days when threads of my self conscious past needle my psyche; days when I feel worn and weary and all I can see are those flaws separate from their stories. And there are days when I am glowing with beauty and sensuality; days when I vibrate with inspiration.”