My mother was very weight obsessed most of my life. When I see pictures of her from my later childhood, it breaks my heart. She was recovering from my father’s abuse during that period and therapy was not readily available. I am often shocked that her outward cries for help went unheard. She did eventually release those patterns of self-harm. My battle with eating disorders started at age twelve. I have always been tall with a slim build so my anorexia went unnoticed. I think back about those days of self-harm and see that my soul was crying out to be heard. Around the age of twenty, I also developed bulimia. It would be almost ten years before I entered treatment. Self-harm was something that I was taught so for me this behavior was normal. A little over a decade ago, my weight dropped to a point that it was critical to seek treatment. The therapist that was in charge of my treatment was amazing. She was the first person that said, “I am so sorry that you were not given the love and protection that you deserved as a child. You can protect that little girl now by choosing to stop harming yourself.” I fought that journey for a long time and one day realized that I really like my body. Shortly after entering recovery, I was asked by a friend to speak about the role my emotions played in my own body image. I was petrified, but did speak to her group of physical education teachers about body image. What I found disturbing is that many had students as young as eight manifesting symptoms of anorexia or bulimia. Teaching body image became very important to me and eventually took on the path of teaching female empowerment. There is not a day that goes by that I do not look in the mirror and like what I see. It was a long journey and those early days were very tough, but when I was done with the self-deprecating, I was done. I feel it is important that every woman not only learn to be comfortable in her own skin, but enjoy being in that skin. We all deserve to love every aspect of ourselves. I understand this struggle, because it will always be close to my heart. While going through trauma recovery, I have learned the ways in which I was taught self-harm and how abuse gives us a feeling of diminished worth. Lately, it keeps coming to my attention that a great deal of abuse survivors struggle with eating disorders and I want to encourage each of you. There is hope and I am living proof of this fact. You are beautiful. You have worth beyond measure. I am sorry that you were not given the love and protection that you deserved as a child. You are not the voices of your wounds, but the voice of courage, strength and survival.