by Martha Krausz
I am strong, poetic, brilliant and beautiful. And I have lived most of my life in fear and self-criticism. When I was eleven years old, I froze in horror as I silently decided I was not loveable. I was tortured by the fact that I could not be more like my twin, who seemed to glide through life with ease, and effortless beauty. My feeling of being out of place and inherently not good enough grew unbearable, and I turned to what seemed to be the only option left me. I declared to myself that if I were to be chosen and cared for, I would have to change myself. And so, I began to starve myself.
It is hard to understand why, for so many, the next step after self loathing is cutting off our life source; rejecting what our mother, and our mother earth provides us. I know that it was not something I thought through, but a force that took me so violently that I felt I had no choice in the matter. Thanks to my incredible mother and a team of women including co-founder of The Body Positive, Elizabeth Scott, I did not let anorexia steal more than two years of my life, and am grateful for my quick recovery from something that has taken many people’s lives and consumed years of those who survive.
I am not one to give total credit to luck or some guiding pre-destined fate. But this summer I bow to it in humble gratitude after a chance coincidence returned me to The Body Positive community and to a chapter in my own story that needed telling. As I help Connie and Elizabeth promote and give new language to their mission, I simultaneously find my own voice, and am awakening to the disordered ways I have measured my self-worth, even after my eating disorder had been “cured.“ I see now – more clearly than ever – that the real problem began before the disease and physical recovery has allowed me for too long to live with the same toxic beliefs and illusions from which eating disorders are born.
Now, I could tell you my struggle was because of the harmful media imposing unrealistic aesthetic ideals on my young mind, or because my father was not around. But, we have therapists for that conversation. The type of beauty and empowerment that This is Beauty celebrates is fundamental, but so completely alien from everything we are told by the outer world that I find myself frustrated that there is not a separate word for it. It is the beauty of being alive. We are not talking about aesthetics, but about a belief system, a new way of viewing and walking through life that can liberate us; release us from prisons that have held us captive in the past while connecting us to what is much larger than the self. It is not something we need to work to cultivate but something that we can discover by opening our eyes to the miracle that is our existence, and the perfection that is in the diversity and individuality it allows. This is Beauty gives a voice to the possibility of unconditional self-love that comes from remembering why we are here: that life is something to be celebrated and that engaging in the present moment, embracing and expressing our unique selves is part of that.