I always thought that beauty meant strength, and that conforming to societal standards of beauty would make me powerful. I was a size 4, starving, told by everyone around me that I should model, with violin-bow arms and a concave stomach.
Then I went to college and started eating. I gained 30 pounds in three months, and my psychiatrist told me I had to be careful. I wanted to scream at him, "I'm recovering from an eating disorder!", but I didn't. I just kept quiet and kept eating. I'm now a size 8, and I exercise every day. I have defined muscles in my arms and legs. I can run miles and lift children and work at a construction job.
I look back at pictures of myself from high school and I see brittleness, fragility. I've learned to embrace my scars, my cellulite, the fat on my stomach and butt, the way my flesh moves when I jump, as signs of trials overcome. My body represents who I am: I'm stronger now, thicker, more of a presence, capable. Powerful.