Did the gaping hole eating at my insides ever fill up or was it just temporarily covered? Unfortunately, my freshman year of college, the all too familiar feeling revisited me as I became borderline depressed. I started seeing a therapist in an attempt to empty out the baggage from my past experiences, but now it felt as if my past was reinstating itself into my present. I would have liked to be mad at everyone around me, but I could only be upset with myself for letting my body get to the point that people felt the need to bring it up as their concern, yet again.
Although, it came to my senses that the main cause of my anger came from the fact that I had been voiceless, allowing people to take over my life for far too long. When people would try to take my body into their own hands, I found myself in a position where I was constantly fighting against their guidance. Even to the extent that when people told me to lose weight, I’d want to do the complete opposite. Giving in would mean I was letting them win, right? Well that’s how I saw it anyways… I couldn’t let anyone win except for myself and that’s exactly what I did. I had forgotten that I was in charge of myself and that I held the power to my own success. So, from that point on I promised myself I wouldn’t let anyone else hold that key.
When summer rolled around, it was easier to take the time I needed to focus on myself and begin to figure out what i really needed to do. Through patience and dedication, I finally realized that deprivation was not the answer to my questions. I learned that self-acceptance was. I may not be what some people “expect” me to be as a gymnast or, maybe even, in everyday life, but guess what? I am in a state where I fit my own expectations. One where I control my destiny, where I can look in the mirror and not be disgusted, and where I am finally happy. I do not live to impress the world around me; I live to impress and inspire myself. It is only a plus if if I can help those along the way.
In life we are told to do or be so many different things and expected to fit so many different expectations; I think that’s something I always had a hard time with. Women are “expected” to have skinny waists, yet still be voluptuous. People surrounding us tell us we need to eat but then look at us in disgust if we cross the invisible line of overeating. The ones around us that are supposed to build us up are too often the first to bring us down. We aren’t aware of why these things are, so we end up becoming overwhelmed from putting the pressures on ourselves. Ignoring the opinions of those around me and focusing on what I believe in has been one of the greatest impacts on saving me. Why should we allow anyone else to dictate how we feel about ourselves?
Body shaming and image are a huge topic that not a lot of people are open to talking about, but my goal here is to open a platform for you guys to share your own stories. I would love if any of you would like to come forward and comment or message me your personal experiences/struggles with body image to be shared and help raise awareness.
7 Replies to “Dear No One, This is For Me”
Hi Katelyn, I am so happy to read that at a relatively young age you are taking ownership of your life and your body. I spent many more years than you trying to comply with whatever standard I was being fed at the time from a variety of people who were important to me. Some of it was blatent and others was a read-between-the-lines type thing. I thought that if I could get to the perfect point life would be easier and more enjoyable for me. Actually, what happened is my gymnastics suffered, I missed out on a lot of great things, I was depressed and I also made myself pretty sick in the process. What you are doing by speaking out is incredible. So many look up to you so your message is especially powerful. Thank you.
Katelyn, you are so brave and beautiful! I am also a former gymnast, older than you but you know the sport never leaves you. I cannot reach for the words I’d like to right now but just remember that YOU are enough. You are You and that is your power! I am so proud of you for sharing your story.
Katelyn, I’m so proud of you and thankful that you’re using your platform to address such an important but often taboo subject. Your story hits me hard because I remember having to run with sweats on and my coaches always commenting on if I looked bigger or smaller that day at practice. I’m so happy to see all your wisdom and how much you’ve grown as a person and gymnast.
Hi Katelyn, thanks again for your courage in being vulnerable with all of us. Body image is a very important issue to me because I’ve struggled with anorexia since age 17. My disorder has interrupted my education, friendships, passions, and life goals. I’ve come close to dying multiple times from heart failure due to starvation and overexercise. Anorexia has landed me in multiple hospitals and treatment centers, where I have met so many people whose stories deserve to be told, and where I also built up the strength and willpower to recover. I don’t think my eating disorder is gone, but now, at 21, I’m healthy enough to return to school and move forward with my life, and if this is as far as I get in recovery, I can live with that because I’m miles away from where I was.
Katelyn: Although I’m was never a gymnast, I was still FEELING similar (yet unspoken) expectations as a pre-teen, teen, and young adult by society about body image. That is so brave of you, to open up about your very voiceless experience. I have FELT that way in previous jobs, and find it inspiring to see that you’re finding a way out of it. I have also been your fan for a long time, and was excited to see that you were back as a level 10 and now college gymnast! 🙂
You are not alone, and you’re very brave for sharing your journey with us! My coaches used to comment when I’d lost or gained weight- and try to dictate our diets. He told us that if we quit we would “beef up,” and when I did quit, I was so afraid of disappointing my coaches and becoming “fat” that I didn’t eat enough and developed anorexia for years. It takes a lot of courage to overcome others’ expectations and become happy with yourself, and live for YOU instead of anyone else. I love that you seem so happy at UCLA and you’ve found people who seem to support you and let you be yourself. Keep it up, I love watching you in NCAA! Ps, I have always considered you an incredibly gifted gymnast. I’m glad you’ve managed to keep your love for the sport although others have tried to steal it from you.
This touched me for sure! Being a former gymnast myself, I was always under the impression that I had to look a certain way to be able to do the sport. Even now, I still have some body issues, especially with my hugely muscular legs. I feel like now that I don’t do the sport, i have to conform to another body shape stereotype. Most people would think that athletes would be last on the list to have body image issues being so fit, but it’s quite the opposite. So glad you are doing a story on this!