Proud2Bme | The Power of Words

The Power of Words

Carly Bitz--“If we could just put your face on your sister’s body, we’d have the perfect girl.” That single sentence haunted me for years. If you repeat something enough to yourself, you’ll start to believe it.

In the fragile stages of adolescence, I wanted to be accepted by my peers more than anything. I yearned to belong and feel like I was part of something bigger. My insecurities were at an all-time high. The words spoken to me during this period of my life were absorbed like water in a sponge. Phrases that may have meant to be harmless became a mantra that I replayed in my head; they provided fuel for an eating disorder to develop.

I began to think that if I reached the accepted standard of beauty, I would obtain happiness. I paid attention to the ideals that society set and ignored the signals my body sent me. Anorexia took complete control and cut my body mass in nearly half. Even then, I couldn’t stop. I wanted perfection: the unattainable goal. My body image became so drastically distorted that the image of the young girl I saw looking back at me in the mirror was far from accurate.

Whispers trailed close behind as I walked down the hallway in my high school. I overheard comments about how I needed to be hooked up to a feeding tube. I received cruel online messages containing remarks of how I desperately needed medical attention. Or that I should eat a slice of pizza. EAT SOMETHING. This negative feedback broke my heart and caused me to retreat further inside myself. These memories are not pleasant and are almost painful to resurface, but I find it necessary to voice the impact they had on me.

The comments themselves were not nearly as hurtful as the detachment of sensitivity that they contained. The sting of those words lasted far longer than the moments after they were said.

We are all fighting a battle. We all struggle. I have learned that providing support and encouragement is much more effective than passing judgment. I will never underestimate the power of a positive action. Even the simplicity of a smile in passing-by can be uplifting. Remember, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

After entering treatment for my eating disorder, my drive to reach impossible standards quieted. With recovery came self-acceptance--a term I had never understood before. I saw qualities in myself that took precedence over my physical appearance. I began to love myself for my integrity, intelligence, empathy, and passion for life.

The truth is that everyone is going to have an opinion. I will never be able to please everyone. I have insecurities, yes, but I will never surround myself with people who enjoy calling attention to them. What is important is that I am comfortable with myself. I feel best when I’m healthy and have the energy to be the best person that I can be. I have learned that beauty is not confined to a single definition. Beauty is far more than how you look. It isn’t a certain color, shape, height, or size. How awfully boring this world would be without diversity. I choose to embrace what sets me apart. In my opinion, beauty is your thoughts and your actions--it is a state of mind.

I am careful with my words, because I know that they have power. They cause you to feel. Before you speak, ask yourself: is what I'm about to say going to build someone up or break them down? Once it’s said, it can’t be taken back. I love this quote from Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." They are a constant reminder to me that the way I interact with others can impact not only their day, but their lives.

About this blogger: Carly is twenty years old and works as a volunteer with the NEDA helpline.

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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.

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