And no, I’m not talking about mistletoe. Or eggnog. Or oversized sweaters with Uggs.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Yes, friends. The time is upon us.
In case you haven’t heard, this Tuesday, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is coming to us live – err, pre-recorded – from CBS.
And spoiler alert: I will not be watching.
It’s not because I’m anti-VS. Not because I’m a prude.
It’s because I do not want to send my heart mixed messages about something that has taken me years to understand.
During my anorexia, beauty was an obsession. At least in the beginning. What began as giving sweets up for Lent, quickly turned into a severe eating disorder, shattering my self-worth and annihilating any inkling of self-love. And with it, my concept of beauty.
I’m not here to give you some essay on how beauty is found on the inside.
You’ve heard that a thousand times over. Just ask Dove.
When I was at the depths of my disease, the mirror was like a drug for me: destructive and yet something that I was addicted to. Staring back at me was an emaciated, grey-skinned, lifeless girl who had thrown away everything: relationships, passions, extra curriculars, joy, my relationship with God, my future – everything. Ninety percent of my hair even fell out for crying out loud. The contempt I had for my body and my soul…it is too potent to even express. I never thought that I could ever look in a mirror and find beauty ever again.
Even years into my recovery, I would avoid the mirror at all costs. Because looking into it, all I saw was a monster. All I saw was the pain I had caused my loved ones. The guilt from ruining special occasions. The remorse and regret of missed opportunities – graduation, prom, senior year, freshman year of college – times when I should have been having the time of my life, I spent deteriorating. Pushing everyone away as I spiraled more and more out of control.
That was what I saw when I looked in the mirror. There was absolutely nothing beautiful. Nothing worth redeeming.
Now, I can honestly say that I can look in the mirror again and see my reflection for what it truly is: beautiful. And I’m not simply talking about aesthetics. Although, I have come to appreciate my physical beauty, too.
When I look in the mirror now, I see my interior beauty. I see the beauty that has come from brokenness. My past will never go away, but now, instead seeing my reflection through the filter of pain, regret and guilt, I see the reflection of a girl who has freedom. Who, yes, has an incredibly painful past, but who has overcome it. Been set free from it. I see a self that has been transformed. I see Christ in me.
I wish I could tell you that overnight, I had this “aha” moment. I wish I could tell you that once the weight was on, that all the interior battles were over. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The storm may be over, but there is work to be done to rebuild the aftermath. As it is with ED.
My transformation, flat out, would not have happened, had it not been for Jesus – constantly whispering to me that my past is not who I am. That I am forgiven. That I am loved. That I am a new creation. “The old has gone. The new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17)
That transformation was one I never thought possible. And in complete transparency, is something that I continually have to work at maintaining: by listening to Christian podcasts throughout the day, listening to Christian music, going to daily mass. Why? Because I know that I am weak, and that if I don’t stay focused on the Truth, that ED will try to snake his way back into my thoughts. But ED is no match, because with the J-man, I am strong.
So no, I will not be watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show tomorrow night. As much as I’d love to watch Selena Gomez throw down an awesome concert, protecting my heart – protecting the transformation that took years to occur – is more important. That fashion show, with its supermodels (who are unnaturally thin and, yes, beautiful from society’s standards) will cause me to flirt with ED’s biggest crack in my foundation: comparison.
So I am going to avoid the temptation all together, and not tune in. It is an act of self-love.