Proud2Bme | "I Have a Voice and I Intend to Use It."

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"I Have a Voice and I Intend to Use It."

By River Zain Ceballos--I have had insecurities and body image issues for as long as I can remember. Throughout elementary school, junior high and high school, I was the funny, chunky kid.

I grew up in a predominately upper-middle class environment where everyone I went to school with was tall, rich, tanned and in shape. I used to envy my classmates who were able to walk around the locker room with their shirts off and had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It seems so simple to some people, but I was scared to do that out of shame and embarrassment.

Men are just as pressured to fit society's unrealistic expectations. I mean, who doesn't want the 6 foot 4, blond-haired, blue-eyed, dream boy with a killer smile and rock hard abs? Boys and girls alike are pressured to look "airbrushed" and as fit, thin, and toned/bulked up as the models we see in popular campaigns.

For a big portion of my life, I was afraid to really be myself, which led to intense self-confidence issues. I always hid in the background. Growing up, I stayed below the radar and because of that, I wasn't able to share my dreams of one day becoming an actor & entertainer because all I'd ever hear is that no one would hire the "fat kid."

After a string of unfortunate events in high school, including my parents divorcing and just being in that awkward teenage phase that I think we all go through, I felt like I had no control of anything. I soon felt that the only thing I had any control over was my weight; it was something that I could actually change.

Losing weight started out harmlessly. I started eating better and working out, but the more compliments I received, the more I went to any lengths to keep the momentum going, which included skipping meals, purging & working out excessively. For the first time, I was receiving attention & for once it wasn't people ridiculing me or taking blows to my self-esteem.

I was looking for attention, praise and self-fulfillment through other people, through compliments. That led to my disorder. I suffered from bulimia for two years before I spoke up. But by the time I did, everyone already knew. I had lost an incredible amount of weight, at a steady pace for two years. People always questioned whether I was doing drugs or had an eating disorder. I led people to think it was drugs--I was THAT embarrassed of my eating disorder and truthfully, I didn't want anyone to intervene. I was enjoying being "skinny" for the first time ever. But soon enough, calorie consumption and working out endlessly soon became my entire life. It was all I thought about from morning till night and it took its toll on me.

Speaking up was what saved my life. I think people still feel it's taboo to talk about something as serious as an eating disorder. It shouldn't be.

I have a voice and I intend to use it. You don't have to be super famous or incredibly beautiful to get people to listen. It doesn't matter if you're educating a stadium of people or you're educating kids at your lunch table at school. The bottom line is that your voice is being heard and you're getting your message across. You never know who's listening or who you will inspire.

I was afraid to speak up because all the research I had done led me to "female support groups & female chat rooms" and I had always read of female celebrities suffering from eating disorders. It was kind of unheard of to read about young men who have suffered from body image issues. I didn't want be known as the boy with a "girls disease" but I'm so thankful that I found the courage to come clean and get help.

Being able to look in the mirror and not cringe, to be able to walk out in to the world every day with my head held high is the most amazing feeling! I have my days, I think I always will. Recovery isn't easy; I'd be lying if I said it was. You have to want it. It takes strength and it takes practice but life after an eating disorder IS achievable.

When I do have those days, I practice healthy, effective ways of dealing with it. I really practice peace and positivity. If you have a positive outlook, it shows. And positvity is what you effortlessly start to exude and you start to attract all things positive.

I have hit rock bottom, been ashamed of myself and my actions. I was tired, lonely and afraid, but now I'm here, on the other side of all that pain and I am stronger and better than ever. I have the confidence to share my story and let you all know that you're not alone. I want you to know that what you are going through or have been through isn't a "girl, boy or weak people problem." It is a HUMAN problem. We live in a society where we get the message that healthy is not good enough--we are told have to be "perfect."  I'm from a generation and am in an industry that has a free pass to dissect you...to pick you apart, to point out your every flaw. I am proud to be one of the first male public figures to shed light on this subject. 

I can't effectively educate our youth if I sugarcoat the truth, so I choose to share my story in the hopes of opening people's eyes and helping people who are suffering. I want everyone to know that it is okay, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and you are a lot stronger than you possibly know. I do what I do for every little boy or girl, man or woman, who has been told that they are not beautiful, smart or good enough to be who they want to be, who has been led to believe that their dreams are not attainable. I'm living proof that they are.

 

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About Us

Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.