A little while ago, I asked you to start sharing your stories in hopes of us learning to empower one another. The world can seem ridiculously lonely, especially when the voice inside your head keeps telling you that you can’t. The #BMKBucketList is my way of taking control of my insecurities and changing my biggest “I can’t” to “I will.” But now, I’d like to chat about you and what your experience with body positivity is. Starting this conversation proves that we all have a war going on inside our heads but with a little motivation, we can roar back at the negativity and learn to love and embrace our bodies.
This week, we’re chatting to Chastin from Crazy Mom of Three. When I asked her why she wanted to be part of this challenge, she said, “I feel very strongly that it is incredibly important to encourage a positive body and self-image in your children from very young boy or girl so that will in turn show that same love and respect to those around them, only then will the image society portrays change it can change but we need to make it happen.”
If you missed the first of the series last week, (see Jocelyn’s story), you will know that I have a set of 8 questions for my guest writer to answer. However, Chastin had such an incredible background story that I thought I would share it here, too.
“Basically, I was an overweight child from a very young age growing up with a mother who was incredibly body conscious and critical when it comes weight and appearance, so from a young age I was exposed to her standing on the scale every day, not eating when she gained even half a kilo and this flowed over onto me and the way that I approached food and my eating habits.
I have always been an emotional eater and by my early teens I was very overweight I decided to change this when I turned 16 and this developed into a full blown body image disorder, every time I looked in the mirror I felt sick and ugly and horrible I denied it for so long but I was either starving myself or working out in the gym for hours and hours every day. I become so obsessed with the numbers on the scale I even stopped gymming when I started gaining body mass from the muscle mass I developed. I dropped from 130kg to 53kg within a year.
My mom encouraged me every step of the way, so did my family and friends they didn’t see that anything was wrong they were happy because they thought I was happy I made sure to smile in front of them and eat in front of them from all appearances I was happy and healthy , eventually it all came to a head when after a day of not eating I drank myself into alcohol poisoning at a friend’s 18th and ended up not only ruining her evening and embarrassing myself but being taken to hospital all the while murmuring about how much I hated myself and I was ugly (my mom told me afterwards).
I was discharged the next day but still in complete denial, I carried on as nothing happened until at the end of my matric year I fell pregnant with my eldest son, when I realised I was pregnant it was like a lightbulb went off and I knew I had to change my eating habits for the sake of my baby and I did, my boyfriend was very encouraging at the time and by the time my son came into the world I was a few kilos heavier but much happier.
It only took a year for me to fall back into bad eating habits though when after my ex and I married I then fell pregnant with my second son and as well as being depressed and in a very unhappy marriage I gained a lot of weight was utterly miserable, I hated myself and my body, I had self-harmed for most of my teenage years and fell into that again.
It took having my second son for me to walk out of my marriage and later into the relationship with my now husband who was a wonderful support system for me, it was strange to be in a relationship where every day I was told I was beautiful and worth the world even if at first the compliments made me more angry than happy, it was a process one which my husband ever so patiently traveled with me, I continued to gain weight and at the end of my 3rd sons pregnancy I was 108 kilos and I remembered my mom looking at the scale wide eyed at the hospital after I stepped off it… that was my breaking point I decided that I wasn’t going to do this anymore I was happy and had a wonderful family, I was tired of hating my body, the body that carried 3 beautiful healthy children to birth, I wanted to love myself and respect myself and my body and myself. I also didn’t want my children to grow up with the warped sense of self-image I did.
I had a few major health and mental health issues, I decided to deal with those and then go from there, I did and after that I felt mentally prepared to tackle my lifestyle and feelings towards myself, from there the weight started to come off and with every step I took I began to look at my body in a whole new light, I began to appreciate my body and the human body in general for the amazing machine that it is, I stopped looking at the scale and the numbers and started looking at me and how I felt, I wanted to be me and comfortable in my own skin.
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t eating for nothing I was eating because I enjoyed food and wanted to. I wasn’t looking in the mirror and pointing out every flaw rather I was looking at the mirror and pointing on what the so-called flaws represented ie. stretch marks were evidence of my children.
I feel that I have reached a point in my life when I have that I may not be the smallest I have ever been as I am now 65kg but I look in the mirror 99 percent of the time and am happy with what I see, I am happy with me, there are still days when I want to hide away in layers and cover up but those days are now few and far between and I can pull myself forward instead of back.”
What does body positivity mean to you?
To me, body positivity is loving you and your body and projecting that love out into society, standing up and saying that you and are worth just as much as the next person.
Why does body positivity resonate with you and why do you feel it is important?
Because it is something I have struggled with my whole life and seen my mom struggle with I never want my sons to feel the same and want to make sure they respect their partners body as well as perfect which is what it is, no one should feel the way I did because society has told you that you do not fit the mould.
What is your favourite part of your body?
Funny enough it’s probably not what most people would think, I love my stomach, it may not be flat and I have a few stretch marks of course but it carried and reminds me of my babies every day and how blessed I am to be a woman and to have had this privilege that so many woman do not.
What makes you feel confident?
I don’t wear a lot of make-up but I love wearing what I do and going out feeling like I am in a good space surrounded by good people, that’s when I am confident.
Do you have a favourite pair of jeans, a lipstick shade or something special that gives you the confidence to conquer?
I have a pair of ankle boots and a pair of black boot legged jeans that make me feel amazing and tall lol I am super short its funny because I don’t wear pants or feel comfortable in them but that pair the way they fit etc makes me feel top of the world.
Who is your woman-crush? (Celebrity, family member, friend, actress, etc.)
Drew Barrymore completely love her, she is not only beautiful but the way she has overcome her own struggles in her life is inspiring.
Who inspires you?
My relationship with my mom has always been complicated but I cannot blame her when the warped sense of her own self-image is what she was brought up with as well. As I have grown older and we have both realised and jumped hurdles with our own issues we have an understanding and respect for each other and I truly respect and admire her for all that she does for me and my family, she is a strong independent woman and I hope to accomplish even a small part of what she has in her life so far.
Aside from that any woman in general who goes out there and shows they are body proud no matter what society thinks of them they stand up and project the message of self-love and acceptance to everyone around them and we need more of that today we really do.
Is there anything that you wish you’d known, growing up, about self-love?
I wish I had learned to speak up for myself and my feelings and to ask for help instead of trying to control everything on my own, at the end of the day the issues I had were all about control it was all I had when I felt my life was spiraling so I wish I had the sense then that I do now to turn around and say I am worth it I am worth something I don’t need to feel this way or be treated this way by others or society.
I really loved hearing Chastin’s story and can’t thank her enough for being part of this series. To be honest, I could probably take her story and highlight just about every word as something that I have discovered in my own journey. Hearing from her only confirmed this series and I hope that you take something from every one of these stories that I am honoured to share. If you’d like to share your own story and answer the body positive questionnaire, then
If you’d like to share your own story and answer the body positive questionnaire, then drop me a line at: editor[at]bymegankelly[dot]co[dot]za.