It’s very rare that I can find so much of myself in a book. I was recently sent a pre-order copy of Beautiful Bodies by Kimberly Rae Miller. This is her memoir of loving and hating her body from early childhood to having a baby of her own. While I did not struggle with “true” weight issues like Kimberly, this did not discount me from having body issues.
Kimberly’s body issues seem to really come to light as she competed in her first pageant, the New York Pre-Teen State Pageant for Miss Junior America. She had a curvier body more than most pre-teen girls in 7th grade but due to her age was stuck competing against pre-pubescent girls and thus her mom lets her go on her first “real diet” of her choosing. Oddly for me, I also began my journey with body issues in 7th grade. I liked my first boy and he thought I wasn’t skinny enough. That was literally all it took for me to spiral into anorexia nervosa. After a couple years, I was a recovered anorexic but the body dysmorphia stays with you for a lifetime…you no longer have the ability to see your body for what it is…you only see it for it’s flaws. The idea of beautiful bodies no longer exists and you will your life constantly battling your body image and food. Oddly, unlike the author, when I competed at Miss America I found a new confidence of wearing a bikini on national television. Leading up to that moment I learned more about the science of food, working out to see results in my body and the proper ratio of fat that would help me continue to burn more fat even if I increased the amount of clean, healthy calories I was taking in. For a few years, I actually had a more positive relationship with my body and food.
It crazy to think that by the time Kimberly started college, she had been on Jenny Craig and Weight Watcher and that the one time she said eff it to diets and ate what she wanted while studying abroad in the Netherlands is when she naturally lost 15 pounds.
One of the most poignant parts of the book to me was the end. Without spoiling the book, I connected with her journey of pregnancy, miscarriage and then pregnancy again when she had to learn to love the body she had and that the idea of beautiful bodies was alive again. Pregnancy and having babies reminds you of how beautiful life is and the ability of a woman’s body to create a tiny, prefect human is to be celebrated. Through my own difficult pregnancy and birth I experienced the same revelation.
I love this book because Kimberley’s journey with her body is a journey that we as women all experience in different ways. She gives us all hope that we will have an “aha” experience in our adulthood that brings us back to appreciating, loving and taking care of our bodies no matter what they look like.