Communities are not always as black and white as PBS Kids might have us believe. Often times we are shown a simplified and idealized view of how communities work, and this makes it hard to accept the reality of the communities in our own lives...Read More
Meet Megan Ramminger. A strong and resilient female entrepreneur who owns her own business, Megan Ramminger Photography, and is a rockstar mom, partner and friend! Based in Milwaukee, her goal is to help spread the mission of the project to her community and help change the conversation around beauty and loving ourselves for who we are, inside and out.
Where did your creative journey start?
My creative journey started...Read More
Them #curves though! Here's How to get a #bikiniready #beachbody
Step 1- grab your #body.
Step 2- put a #bikini on it.
Step 3- take it to the #beach.
😍😘👙🎉🌈🌊🌞 and #fuckyourbeautystandards
Let's follow her lead and keep the momentum and conversation going!
Meet Annette and read a piece of her story below! She is on a tremendous journey to self discovery and is excited to keep the conversation going as a part of the #ReclaimBeauty movement!
I carry with me the fear that I am no longer me. I carry with me the hope that I will never fully recover because the idea of no longer being the skinny girl, the “on top of it” girl, the stand out girl, makes me feel invalid.
People tell me that I am so good at managing my time…I stay on top of everything that comes at me and they don’t understand why or how I could do this. But what they don’t know is that the reason I am so good at this is that I am perpetually bored and am missing a piece of me that used to take up a significant amount of time. I used to count calories, write and rewrite my meals and calorie intake, rationalizing how much I needed to eat or could get by without, for hours each day. And when I couldn’t keep up with my schedule, I spent hours binging and purging over the toilet - throat burning, stomach screaming, back aching and feeling worthless. I used to manage all of that while still upholding a sense of "outward perfection" to the world. Now, as I move farther and farther away from that life, the time I have to achieve my true desires gives me the luxury of being able to accomplish a lot in what seems like a short period of time.
I miss when people would talk about how I disappear when I turn sideways. I get happy when people talk about the ridiculousness of being a size zero, saying how thin it is and I secretly know that that is me.
People respond with support and love when they hear I am in recovery from an eating disorder but they will never truly know me or what I have experienced. They don’t understand just how significant it is that I can try a free sample without desperately trying to figure out how many calories were in it to know how to rework my plan for the day to be sure I still met my goals. And the scary part is that they don’t really want to know, which makes it easier to keep hiding those parts of me.
To be honest, people didn’t even know when I had a problem until they could see it outwardly but rather than being worried, they reinforced it inadvertently by telling me how great I looked or people giving me increased attention when I went out in public and comments such as “I wish I could look like you!”. But they never knew how much pain I was in. My value was and oftentimes still is determined by my appearance - how much skin can I grip in my hand, what does the mirror show, what truths do my clothes tell.
I work every day to fight against the unbelievable and ridiculous expectations placed on people in order to feel beautiful and yet I still am held down by their grips every day. What a hypocrite I am sometimes and yet, the insidious of ED makes it so that the secret is still exciting. I have a journey yet to go but the strides I have made have helped me rise up to the voice of ED and say that I care more about living than I do being perfect. And don’t get me wrong, there are days that isn’t true and I fall victim to EDs sweet love. But each day, it is getting easier to shred the secrecy and say that today I will stand in the light.
I’ve never felt that I’m allowed to be self conscious about my body. Most people simply tell me, “Oh, you’re so lucky to be thin” or “I’d be happy to give you some of my body fat.” I kept my thoughts to myself throughout adolescence, always wishing to look more like the other girls around me. It felt like telling others about my insecurities would simply lead to a competition of whose self-identified “flaws” were a more difficult burden to bear, and somehow I knew that I would always lose. I could complain about how difficult it was to find jeans that were long enough – after all, height is a less touchy subject than weight – but I was always careful to steer away from commenting on the fact that this was also because my waist was small. As I got older, however, my insecurity had less to do with finding clothes that fit properly and more to do with the perceptions others had about my size. When one of my high school friends told me her mom had asked if I was anorexic, I laughed it off, because my friends did the same. They ate lunch with me every day and knew that I was healthy and active. However, when my college women’s choir director confronted me with similar concerns, I was mortified. Although I was able to convince her that I had a healthy relationship with food and simply have a fast metabolism, I had started to feel like I wasn’t big enough, I wasn’t curvy enough, I simply wasn’t enough. Since that time, I have gained a lot of confidence and learned to love my body a lot more than I used to, but I still worry about what other people will think if I just order a salad at dinner, or if I only finish half of my burger. I find myself making the excuse that I have a small appetite, that I just need to eat more frequently, that if I eat too much at one sitting I’ll get sick – anything that will eliminate the question I still fear is in the minds of others – what’s wrong with her? I still worry about whether my ribs are visible, or whether people notice the curve in my spine from scoliosis. I think about how many calories I am taking in, not because I am worried about overdoing it, but because I want to gain weight and feel like I look healthy, even though I know that I am healthy. Looking back, I know that I am lucky. I have not had to endure the body shaming that many women face on a daily basis, and I fit into what some people would consider to be an “ideal” mold. But my own experiences remind me that no size, shape, or physical feature can make you happy. My happiness stems not from being tall and thin, but from learning to love myself and to share love with the people around me. It’s easy to find flaws, no matter what size you are, but I have started to live by a different motto: “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."
Reclaiming beauty is a strange idea for me. I have thought about this for a long time and I have to wonder if I ever will be able to reclaim what I have searched and have yet to find within myself.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…” even as the beholder I do not consider myself beautiful in anyway.
I never learned to accept myself. It was never taught to me, is beauty taught? I firmly believe, yes it is taught. In my heart I believe beauty is both taught to us through loving relationships we have with parents and through what society deems is acceptable.
The first idea - through loving parents - I had very little knowledge of; I was the outcast of my family. I was always told I was not wanted, needed, or would amount to anything. All of these words haunt my very being. After many years of getting these types of negative messages our brain learns to accept what may or may not be true.
The second, through what society deems acceptable, is splashed everywhere we look, things we listen to – words of songs, television commercials show society many ways in which we are “suppose” to be beautiful. Also there is a more direct way society shows us what is acceptable; that is with glances, whispers, pointing, and blatant comments.
I weighed 525 lbs – not due to a physical condition. But because I never learned to care about myself, in my mind I was never worth caring about. So more of a mental acceptance of myself.
My life was to the point where the basics in life were impaired; walking, breathing. I was having a very hard time participating in my children’s lives. This of course had a huge (no pun intended) impact on my own life. I was told I was morbidly obese. Oh the times I heard that statement from doctors…did they not realize I saw how big I was?
It was diet after diet, fad after fad. Until it became so apparent to me that if I did not lose weight I would die. But a large part (again no pun intended) had already died.
I was offered to have a medical surgery to make my stomach smaller. However I had to, on my own, lose 100 lbs. go through psychological testing and counseling. The surgery was a major decision; I knew I wanted to be that smaller person that I had deep inside of me screaming to escape with every breath I took.
I lost the 100 lbs and went through all the testing. That was many years ago and I have lost much weight from the surgery. I still have weight to lose. I have lost so much weight that the access skin hangs in the front, almost down to mid thigh. This has caused many problems: back problems, rashes and again acceptance. Why acceptance? Because I still do not meet the definition of beauty in my eyes. All I see is the grotesque way my body now looks.
Why not be positive? I offend ask myself. The answer is simple; the stares, the glances, the comments. Why can’t I look at this part of my body as a trophy of what I have accomplished? I have yet to accept myself as ever able to be beautiful or anything close to that.
I have been approved for another surgery. This time to have all the excess skin removed. Which means an incision that would start from about 4 inches past my hipbone to my back side all the way across my entire abdomen to my other hip and 4 inches to behind it. It wouldgo from above the navel in one cut and down to pubic area with the second cut. That would be stitched/stapled with 100’s of stitches and or staples. So I went to two plastic surgeons for opinions and advise.
Neither would consider the surgery, not because they didn’t think I needed it, but because my body would most likely not survive the surgery. The 1st doctor said 80% complication rate including death. The 2nd dr had a different opinion; he said 100% complication rate. Both agreed that if surgery were to be done I would have to go to a nursing facility for up to 6 months to heal. The reason for such a high complication rate is because due to a real physical medical problem, adrenal insufficiency, I am on large doses of steroids. These steroids are so that my adrenal glands, located on top of my kidneys work properly to give signals to other body organs to produce chemicals that my body needs to survive with.
Ending hopes that I would ever be rid of the unwanted trophy I had acquired. The very trophy that reminds me each moment how ugly I am. Even to myself to the point where I use the bathroom in the dark. Hope forever gone that I would be beautiful. In my own eyes as well as in societies eyes. Because no matter how we say it may not matter it does matter how we are perceived or not perceived.
I worked with my doctor for over a year to try to ween my body off the steroids to see if my adrenal glands would start to work so that surgery could safely be preformed. Without the added complication rate of being on steroids. The dosage was lowered ever so gradually to only end up being raised again. Due to my body not being able to produce the chemicals it needs. I am now back on highest dose I was originally on.
The ending of this story is hard. Because if I had a true choice even knowing all the complications I would have the surgery. To try to achieve the body image that is acceptable and beautiful to me and those around me. I dream of what this would be like. So when approached about the #ReclaimBeauty project I wanted people to know my story, that to me beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder but how do we learn to accept what in our own minds is unattainable?