This is the story of a girl, but it's not an adventure story...it's a love story. Tracy is a close friend of mine and has battled an eating disorder for the better part of her life. Loving herself never came easy and now that she is on the other side of it, she's ready to accept herself as she is and to love the body she has.
Tracy, it is an honor to have captured how beautiful you really are and to give you the gift of a reminder your loveliness.
Below are some words from Tracy about struggling with - and overcoming - an eating disorder, her shift from loathing to loving herself, and the value photography plays in her self-image.
H: Share a little about your struggle with an eating disorder. When did it start? How long did it last? What thoughts did you have? How did it change your life? How did you overcome it?
T: I was diagnosed with Anorexia a little over six years ago. The disorder beat me down and tried to steal from me everything I loved. My home, my work, my relationships - they were all at risk of being lost forever because of a senseless disorder that told me I was fat, ugly, and useless. I isolated myself for months in my home, if not years. It was only with the help of my parents, my treatment team, and a few very close friends that I finally did confront the shame of Anorexia and began to take on the world again.
H: What encouragement would you give to someone going through something similar?
T: You are not a diagnosis. Anorexia does not define you. It may be a part of who you are (for a period of time), but you are so much more. In my case I am a daughter, sister, teacher, neighbor, and friend, just to name a few. Do not limit yourself to just one thing, especially when it is so negative and destructive. If you are in the grasp of an eating disorder, remember you are never alone, even if you feel like you are. Reach out and seek help. Find yourself and find recovery. There is so much more to life than an eating disorder.
H: How did you learn to accept yourself and love your body?
T: It was finding that whisper in the corner of my mind that said “I deserve better than this” and listening to it. Giving that quiet voice volume with each breath I took by slowly giving myself permission to love myself again - imperfections and all.
H: What do you love about yourself?
T: My creativity and unique perspective on how I view the world.
H: Why did want to have your pictures taken?
T: I wanted to have a reminder that I AM beautiful. Not just today, but each and every day (even those days when I may not feel like it).
H: How does having beautiful photos of yourself impact you?
T: They allow me to see myself from an outside perspective and to appreciate this place in my life - knowing the rocky path that I took to get here.
Tracy, thank you so much for opening up and sharing the hard road to loving yourself. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and I am privileged to be your friend!