Up until I was 9, I thought my body was beautiful.
I have always had a pretty face, and my hair back then was really clean, shiny, and naturally highlighted. Keep in mind I was never fat. Ever. I was always well within a healthy weight for my height and build. I wasn't stick-thin like many elementary school students are, but I was never, ever fat.
But in the second grade, I was called fat for the first time. That was when my entire life changed.
I started describing myself as "fat" instead of "cute" as I had done in the past. I started hating myself, and when someone teased me, I remember myself sitting down and taking it rather than standing up for myself as I did before my self-confidence was shattered.
When I was 14, I became anorexic. I ate far too little to sustain myself, I retreated from my friends and family, shutting myself in my room where I would shiver under mounds of blankets mid-summer and look at "thinspo" and talk to my "ana-buddies." It was the worst year of my life. I attempted to kill myself four times that year, each time saved by my gag reflex. I was never committed or allowed any sort of treatment besides a workbook to fill out on my own because I never got to a lower-than-healthy weight. I was never diagnosed with anorexia despite the fact that I was suffering and everyone knew it--I just didn't fit the medical definition.
When I was 15, I discovered the joys of fruits and vegetables all over again. I fell in love with farming, growing food, and locally-grown things. I became a vegan. I started eating again, normally, not binging, not starving. I ate when I was hungry. I ate when I wanted to eat. Sometimes I even overate, and I learned to accept this as completely healthy eating behavior. I learned not to punish myself or hate myself, and I learned to love my skin, especially after I rediscovered my spirituality and converted to Paganism.
The thing about anorexia is that its a voice that never goes away. I have been fully recovered for 3 years, but the thoughts still grab me sometimes. But now, when the voice in my head says I'm fat, I don't respond with starving myself. I respond with a glass of almond milk and a vegan chocolate-chip cookie.
I have always had an hour-glass figure. When I was anorexic, I was a dress size 0, pants size 0, shirt size extra-small, and I weighed 105 pounds at 5'2".
Now, at 5'3", I'm a dress size 2, pants size 6, shirt size small, and I weigh 128 pounds. But dearie me, I love my body so much more now than I ever have before!