I was a confident, happy child who took great pleasure in using my body. My downward spiral started in my early teen years with the simple desire to lose weight to be like my friends. They innocently began dieting due to cultural and familial messages that made them believe something was wrong with their bodies. Thanks to a friend’s “help,” my dieting behaviors quickly progressed to bulimia.

Climbing back

At the time of my eating disorder there wasn’t much help available. I had never even heard the word “bulimia.” So, after six long years of suffering, I had to pull myself back to life. In making the choice to heal, I knew I needed support from others and began sharing my struggles with friends and family.

"Your body is your home. How you choose to live in it is solely up to you."

This revelation caused many of my relationships to change. My commitment to healing allowed me to develop the voice I needed to speak my truth, and that often meant disappointing people. Though I felt pain in losing friends and even my partner of four years, reconnecting to my body and soul was worth each loss. What I gained was the freedom to fully live my life, which I realized was only possible once I had created a loving relationship with my body.

From loss to service

In my mid-thirties, I was called to help others take the journey to self-love. My sister Stephanie had died due to complications from faulty breast implants and malnutrition caused by her struggles with anorexia and bulimia. I knew I couldn’t let my baby daughter Carmen suffer over her body the way Stephanie and I had, so I co-founded a nonprofit organization that has liberated thousands of people to value their beauty and identity, and to use their energy and intellect to make positive changes in their own lives and in their communities.

As a result, Carmen grew up loving and trusting her body. In her own words, “I am a child of The Body Positive. Five years old when my mother founded the organization, I was raised by a village of self-loving, intuitive-living, world-changing women.” She is now doing her part to serve the world.

Your body is your home. How you choose to live in it is solely up to you.

Making peace

Though not always easy, building a practice of self-love is worth the effort. As I know from experience, making peace with your body leads to more balanced, joyful self-care and a relationship with your whole self that is guided by love, forgiveness and humor.

I feel blessed to have participated in the lives of so many courageous people who have chosen to defy status quo by taking ownership of their bodies and lives. I am grateful that my suffering over my own body and the pain I experienced from the loss of my sister weren’t in vain; they were experiences that allowed Carmen to escape the body hatred common to most American girls, and provided me with work I truly love.