Even at age 20, it wasn’t easy for Eryn to escape the effects of high school bullying. She was constantly told that she didn’t develop a “woman’s body” because she was lacking feminine curves. Now, in Eryn’s mind, having small breasts meant she wasn’t a “real woman”.
In trying to start a new life for herself, and to escape to a place where nobody knew her, Eryn found herself in England trying to create a new persona. Here, she thought she could protect her feelings about her body.
But whatever we run from, sometimes comes back to find us.
She soon found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship with a man right after leaving Canada. “I fell into that relationship and got pregnant very quickly because I didn’t think anyone else would want to have an intimate relationship with me.”
She left that relationship when their daughter was two, and a couple of years later she met her now husband. By that point, she had grown into herself and felt a bit more confident but was still unsure about romantic attachments.
At 25 her relationship with her body was difficult, but in a more “normal” way.
Two years later, when she was getting married, Eryn says that she absolutely hated trying on wedding dresses. Everything was made for women with bigger breasts and softer curves. Eryn saw herself as all angles and no softness; when she got home from fittings, she cried every time.
“I finally chose one, but it had to be altered and padded out a lot and the sales girl was awful. She kept telling me that after I had more babies, my body would fill out more – as if my body wasn’t okay, but it would be after I got hips and boobs. It only served to deepen my body image issues and I always look back on those days with grief.”
Eryn did get pregnant again, with their son, and reflected back on her first pregnancy. During her first pregnancy she was young and didn’t really feel the physical effects of it – no stretch marks, no trouble losing weight after. Pregnant at 27 brought on more weight for Eryn, and she felt fantastic.
“I loved having a bit more weight on me; my body felt womanly and strong,” she says. “This is when I realized that it wasn’t about my body in itself, but about my health. I felt better mentally and physically when I weighed more. I started talking to my doctor and we realized that there were underlying health issues that help me thin in an unhealthy way.”
Since then, Eryn has been pregnant a third – and last – time. Even though she’s still thin, she’s more understanding of her body and what it needs.
“I still have very few curves and sometimes long for a more traditionally female shape, but I am now more grateful for what I have.”
Eryn loves her long legs and the fact that she doesn’t have to wear a bra if she doesn’t want to; she can now feel feminine in the way she dresses, feels, or moves without relating it to the lack of a certain shape.
“I only recently began to understand that so many of my body issues were a result of my comparing with other women, who were also themselves comparing themselves to others,” Eryn says.
She wishes she could go back and tell herself 15 years ago that larger breasts and curvy hips were what she wanted, while so many others who may have those things look at her body and wish they could fit into clothes at the mall or to not wear a bra.
“It’s a vicious circle that our society perpetuates and keeps women locked into, when really so many things make us feminine, not just the bodies that we’re told are better or more worthy,” she says.
Eryn grew up in a traditionally British household, and while her family isn’t at all conservative, they simply don’t talk about certain things, so she never would have even thought of asking her female relatives about their experiences with their bodies.
“If I had, I might have found that the aunts and cousins I was desperate to look like had felt that same desperation to look different at my age.”
When asked about what makes her feel “empowered”, Eryn says that she feels empowered by her education. Since she felt left out and bullied throughout her formative teenage and young adult years, it meant that she relied on being smart and interesting to get herself through.
“I read everything, studied everything, and made sure that if I wasn’t going to feel physically enough, that I would make up for it by being more than capable mentally. This comes with its own issues that I still need to keep dealing with, but it was also incredibly positive for my confidence and feeling comfortable in any group of people.”
When Eryn needs to or wants to feel great, she goes for a vintage cut dress with a good twirly skirt and fitted top. She has a 50s red and white polka dot number that she loves the fit of, and it looks great on her.
“When I wear it, people always take a second look in that great way that makes me feel amazing.”
Eryn’s “go-to” look depends on her mood or what’s going on in her life. It could mean a great pair of skinny jeans, her low-top converse, and a neutral top, or her black flats, vintage dress, and cute wavy hair look.
A note from Eryn to leave us on: “Femininity is not defined by anyone else’s view of it. I hate our media and how it talks about women, and I wish I could protect every teenaged and young adult girl in the world from the effects of those comparisons that are inevitably made.”
Thank you for sharing, Eryn. So much love and respect for your story.
If you are someone who is experiencing any spiralling comparison thoughts about weight or body, feel free to reach out to us or to someone you know and love. We’re all in this together.
If you have a story that you’d like to share; we’d love to have you on the site. Let’s create an amazing community where we can share honest and real stories about our bodies. xx AB