It started back when everything starts–when I was a child.
I was the shy girl with second-hand clothes, permed bangs, big plastic glasses and braces, a home-schooled pastor’s kid who was new to town and just entering public school.
I was chased around the playground for eating jam and cheese sandwiches and soon I stopped eating altogether, because the girls were all so pretty and skinny and boys seemed to like that.
There was one girl in particular–Tracy–who’d go on to become a supermodel for Vogue–and the boys followed her everywhere. She laughed and they swooned. She sighed and they bought her flowers. I wanted to be Tracy.
So I stopped eating and I stopped perming my bangs and I spent my allowance on Northern Reflections sweaters and I doused my body in Exclamation perfume.
But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t become Tracy. I just became anorexic.
When I was in high school I became a hippie because that’s what my friends were, and I copied what my friends dished onto their plates at potlucks because I still didn’t know what was normal.
And in college I wore every kind of hat. I did every club, every program, and I dated every kind of boy.
And when someone asked how I liked my steak, I didn’t know.
I didn’t know whether I liked it medium-rare or well-done. I didn’t know how I liked my eggs, or what my favorite color was, because so much of my life had been spent trying to be someone else.
And isn’t this the way it is for most of us women? We don’t know what we want, because we don’t think our opinion matters. We don’t like ourselves because we don’t look like a Hollywood Housewife.
But guess what? Even The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills want to be somebody else.
We’re all trying so hard to be who we think others want us to be that we forget who we are.
We forget that we are designed uniquely. God doesn’t want us to be anyone but ourselves. He wants women who need just one thing–and that is, a love the world can’t give us.
A love that isn’t dependent on how much we weigh, or our brand of clothes, or whether or not our children made the honor roll.
A love that says, do those belly laughs. Snort when you think something’s hilarious, hiccup when you’re nervous, perm your bangs if you want to.
Because life’s too short to be anyone but yourself.
It was a birthday party at a community hall, and the parents had asked us to bring the kids’ bikes–and I sat with the other moms watching my boys bike around the hall on the “roads” that had been taped down.
And when it came time for cake, I was handing out plates and one of the moms said she wanted a side piece, please, because the side pieces had lots of icing. I offered her a small side piece, and she shook her head firmly. “No, bigger please.”
And I’m still smiling, because this was a woman who knew what she wanted.
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of caring what the world thinks.
I’m sick of starving for attention.
Because the truth is?
We all just want one thing.
Emily Wierenga is wife to a math-teacher husband; mother and foster mother to four boys; an artist, columnist and the author ofChasing Silhouettes: How tohelp a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder,Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After PregnancyandA Promise in Pieces(Spring 2014). Emily speaks at women’s retreats, universities, churches and conferences, about her journey with anorexia nervosa, and was one of the keynote speakers at the premiere Christian eating disorders conference, Hungry for Hope 2013. Shelives in rural Alberta, where she snowboards, makes wine and goes geocaching. She also plays guitar and paints.For more info, please visitwww.emilywierenga.com. Find her onTwitterorFacebook.