“I thought that if I could fit my "fat hips" into their "skinny jeans” and conform to their definition of beauty I would finally be loved.”
As the first born daughter in a family of highly successful architects in Argentina, I felt a lot of pressure growing up to set a good example for my sisters and to make my family proud of me. My father is a very tall man and my mother very beautiful, and I remember at a young age being told by people around me..."Look at those long legs! You could be a model!" And so a seed was planted deep inside my mind.
The truth was, I was not feeling pretty or attractive at all. On the contrary, I felt like the ugly duckling most of my puberty and teenage years. In 1995 I turned 20 and finished my studies at a very prominent high school within Buenos Aires. Following in my family's footsteps, I continued my education studying Industrial Design at University. There were not very many women is this field at this time and it brought many challenges to my life.
At the same time the seeds which had been planted years before began to sprout and grow...maybe I could be a model after all. I was at the age where fashion, clothes, makeup, art, travel and all things glamorous are desirable.
What I found instead was a constant flow of abuse from the makeup artists - critiquing everything about me....my eye lashes were too short, my lips too thin, my nose weird (it was broken when I was 6). And backstage with all the other half naked models, being told that my hips were too big and that nothing would fit me began to eat away at my self confidence. Why did they send me out there as their model if I was so flawed? I put up with all of this for the praise and admiration of my family - I wanted them to be proud of me.
I had something to prove. I thought that if I could fit my "fat hips" into their "skinny jeans” and conform to their definition of beauty I would finally be loved. My new diet was one cup of coffee for breakfast, maybe half of my lunch, and hardly any of the food my mom prepared for us at our nightly family dinners together. This did not go unnoticed, and my mom almost always commented on how little I ate.
I didn't care! I was losing the weight I wanted and was fitting into clothes I couldn't before. I was in control. Or was I? If I was honest with myself it didn't matter how much weight I was losing or “how thin" everyone was telling me I was. All I saw in the mirror was the same wide fat hips and flabby arms. It wasn't enough. I continued to try to lose weight.
One night, while I was out with my close friend and secret crush Diego, he tried to kiss me. "Please don't!" I begged, turning my face away from his. "I'm not ready". The thought of having a man touching my body was incredibly scary to me. I was so afraid I would disappoint him with my ugliness.
I was split open that evening. My outer image of self control collided with my inner emotional insecurity and all the pain came rushing in.
A few days later another blow came, when I learned that my doctor had told my mom that I was suffering from anorexia. I was furious at my doctor’s betrayal of my trust, and to make the situation worse, when my dad learned of my condition later that evening, he yelled "I can't believe you are doing this to our family! Now, because of you we are going to have all kinds of troubles!”
We started seeing a family therapist right away. I was upset that my parents couldn’t understand that all of my efforts had been to become the best I could be so they would be proud of me, and so my sisters could look up to me. I thought "I will punish them. I won't say anything to this therapist." And so I didn't. Not realizing it was not my parents I was punishing, but myself.
I stayed like this for some time, withdrawing deep into myself. My heart was broken, the pain overwhelming. Until finally it was too much for me to carry any longer, and the break with my family was so unhealthy, that I decided it was time to create a new reality for myself.
When I let my armour crumble and looked at why I was starving myself, I discovered that I was starving for love. I had lost myself in the ideal of perfection, leading me to the ultimate disconnection with my essence. How would I recover that ?
“...circles of sisterhood are truly a powerful force of transformation, individual and collective. And that the more I opened up to myself, the more I could open up to others.”
I dropped out of family therapy to work with a nutritionist and a psychotherapist who were holding Women’s Circles around eating disorders and body image. I immediately felt at home. It was exactly what I was longing for : a safe environment where I could share, be seen and see other women in their journey. Knowing that I was not alone suffering this condition was liberating. My identification with “my problem” vanished immediately. I learned at that early age something that today is at the core of my work with women : that circles of sisterhood are truly a powerful force of transformation, individual and collective. And that the more I opened up to myself, the more I could open up to others.
A few years ago when I trained as a BioNeuroEmotion therapist, I learned that the root of this type of eating disorder is the relationship to the mother. So off I went and I asked my mom about her experience of breast feeding me. She began to explain how she was very nervous, trying to be the perfect mother and fearful about not being able to feed me. Her fear of this became so great that her milk dried up and was gone when I was 6 months old.
I began to see and understand connections I never could before. The root was right at 6 months old : while breastfed I was having the sensation that my mother was not loving me = feeding me. Quickly I adopted the belief “I was not enough” that would direct many of my experiences as I grew up.
This awareness helped me to do “the work” that is necessary to heal the mother wound that would otherwise subconsciously define the relationship I have with myself as a woman. In the process I understood that, truly, everything happens for a reason. For me, thanks to my journey through anorexia, I am now guiding women around the world back toward sisterhood, connection and beauty.
I believe we are ready to declare a revolution of beauty that will heal us all from this addiction to “not good enough” and “perfection”. As we recognise that beauty is not found in the masks we wear within society, or in the stories we tell ourselves, but rather in the vulnerability of being all of who we are : intuitive, sexy, not-knowing, smart, messy, goofy, powerful.
“Here is what I learned and what I want to leave with you: in your search for authenticity and your longing for connection you’ll find a way back to yourself, and to the freedom to feel beautiful the way you are today. The journey is totally worth it.”
Here is what I learned and what I want to leave with you: in your search for authenticity and your longing for connection you’ll find a way back to yourself, and to the freedom to feel beautiful the way you are today. The journey is totally worth it.
And here is a first step on that journey. I invite you to look at yourself and identify an experience that shook your beliefs. Are you holding that story from a place of beauty or from a place of pain?
How did you transform, thanks to that story ? What gifts, new ideas, or opportunities did it bring you?
Remember, beloved, your unique and bright light is powerful and gorgeous. It can transform the world in a ripple effect of beauty.
Dare to glow your light into the world, Sister. Your time is now.
Much love and gratitude,
Watch: Dare to Glow Manifesto. A declaration of how your beauty, your glowing presence can bring harmony and peace transforming your life and the world around you.