Meet our lead fundraiser for Dare To Bare, Alexis Jaye. She's a woman who shoots it straight by daring to bare her soul in this moving transformation story. In this story, she details her struggles with weight, body image, an eating disorder, and the point of breaking where she made the courageous decision to help herself. Her incredibly relatable story shares all the feelings that we may have but don’t have the words to say until now.
Written by Alexis Jaye, Edited by Mandy Brown
The Beginning - My Struggle with Size
To me it’s been a long journey filled with a lot of low self-esteem, inaccurate perception of self-image, and working hard to truly understand that my battle with weight and body image is about a lot more than just that.
My first large spike in weight was around 3rd-4th grade, with a steady climb until the 8th grade. I was always on some sort of diet that didn’t work. I stopped wanting to run around and engage in activities because it wasn’t easy or fun anymore as I was so much bigger than I ever had been. I didn’t want to be seen trying to do things I wasn’t able to do. I ended up spending a lot of time watching TV instead of playing outside like a “normal kid.”
The Change - How Getting "Healthy" was Destructive
When my oldest brother was getting married, both he and my dad started doing the Atkins diet and the weight fell off them. At this time I was highly aware of my size and embarrassed of it. I started doing a similar diet and weight began to fall off of me, where I had to get my dress for the wedding taken in multiple times.
I began to add in exercise and the weight continued to fall off. But I developed an eating disorder, and began to battle with panic, anxiety attacks and OCD (which I learned is very common with eating disorders). Through high school, I struggled with attendance, weight fluctuation and a toxic relationship with the gym.
The New Beginning - Choosing to Get Better
After a rough experience starting college, I finally decided I couldn’t do any of it anymore and wanted to get better and have a life so I sought out a therapist to help me. It didn’t matter how many times before people close to me had tried to address the situation or do something about it, I wasn’t ready and would only get angry at them for even accusing me of doing something self-harming and hating.
I never expected anything to happen overnight, more so at all, but I have been so surprised and grateful for the work that my therapist and I have done together. I have to attribute so much of where I am today to her helping me grow and understand the deeper meanings for my actions so that I could actually attempt to change my behaviors instead of hiding behind an eating disorder.
The Lesson - Learning from the Past
Looking back, I am clearly able to understand and connect my issues with the many other pieces of my life, like family dynamics and societal messages of what I “should” look like. I now am so much more clearly able to understand the full circle connection of how I thought I was simply dealing with and controlling one area of my life, my body and self-image, when I was actually attempting to deal with and control the many other areas that I could not change or escape from.
The easiest option was to just keep managing and “dealing” with my life, despite not realizing that I was actually doing the exact opposite and was only changing problems for myself, not necessarily fixing them at all.
The Future - Tomorrow and Beyond
In this past year I have seen a tremendous change in myself, specifically regarding my transformation and how it affects who I am. Coincidentally, I also took my first Soul class a year ago this month and since becoming engaged in the community have seen and experienced positive effects that I would have never thought of or expected to happen.
When I’m struggling through something, I actually am able to see what it is and not channel it in to disordered behaviors. Even more so, I’m able to enjoy so much more because I’m not plagued by worrying when and where I’ll be able to work out or how I’ll be able to hide my eating habits.
For the first time in over 10 years, I actually feel comfortable and grateful for my body and that it’s withstood everything I’ve put it through. When I actually think about what I did to myself during much of my transformation, I realize how blessed I am to be able to be healthy today and aware of the destruction I was doing to myself. It’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but learning to actually “love the skin I’m in” is a challenge that I’m willing to consistently fight hard to stay on the winning side of. Something I didn’t think was possible.