How Church Saved My Self Esteem: Biography

Raquel Calderon-Rodriguez, Guest Writer

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This is the story of a senior, who asked to remain anonymous. Her story is being told by Raquel Calderon-Rodriguez

My body began to develop rapidly when sixth grade began. Other girls were still much skinnier than I– while my body was increasing naturally with age. I was taller yet more significant than most of my classmates. I had already started wearing different clothes to hide my developing chest– having to wear shorts and leggings under my skirts and dresses became a pattern. Being outnumbered by beautifully thin girls in my age group made me seem like a social outcast. I felt disfigured in my own skin. As if I was defined solely by the label XTRA LARGE in junior clothing. This habit of giving up on my appearance and desiring to escape my body followed me into my seventh-grade year of middle school. As months progressed– I doubted myself more and more. My self-esteem diminished. And my weight lowered my self-confidence.

Every day before school would start, I questioned how I would look in specific clothing: Would I look fat? Am I too big for this? Should I even try? This line of questioning still haunts me to this day. In my distorted view of myself; I would see a completely different person in the mirror staring back at me. She would be gorging at the waist and would whisper the hideousness that I felt for myself. A version of myself that I did not want to meet stood in front of me. At this point, I began to loathe and avoid mirrors at all costs. I could never look at them without disproving myself. I grew resentful for not noticing such a distinct progression in my weight. No matter what I did, whether I stopped eating, began to diet and exercise– all I would experience was depression and worthlessness.

As time progressed, I soon became more involved in my church. This was the only place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. I had been attending church since I was in elementary– however, I always thought of it as something that my parents MADE me do. Not something that I chose for myself. Growing older and wiser, I learned how to appreciate my church more and more. During a sermon- conducted by my pastor’s sister, she spoke about self-esteem and what that meant in the eyes of God. And as cheesy as it may sound, something was awakened inside of me at the words of prayer: “God loves you just the way you are.” This verbal acceptance heightened my self-worth. I felt internally and externally loved and welcomed for once in my life. It did not matter what I looked like– instead, it was focused on what was inside of me.

I have since accepted my body for what it is. I believe I am elegant inside and out. Without the guidance of my church, I would not be where I am today. A beautiful human being who deserves happiness.