Growing up, I believed that skinny was pretty. And that everything else was unattractive. Unworthy. Meant to be criticized.

My parents poured encouraging words into me, but their words were not enough. In the battles I fought, I needed more than praise.

I fought the idea that girls and women should diet if they looked a certain way. My Southern grandmother fed that idea to her daughters, and we heard our mothers speak. I can’t remember a time when my family’s women weren’t talking about trying to lose weight.

I fought the idea that girls and women should compare themselves to soap opera actresses and magazine models. I grew up in the 80s and early 90s; that was the messaging.

I fought the idea that girls and women should one-up each other, size up each other, and take shots at each other so as to make themselves feel like the smartest, prettiest, and most attention-getting in the room.

And so, my teen years were full of fighting. And controlling.

In the midst of the fighting and struggling with how to love my alcoholic father and trying to hide my sadness in the midst of my parents’ divorce and feeling completely out of control of my life, I found one thing I could control. I could control my weight.

I controlled my food intake and my exercise, all in the name of being healthy. My struggles with anorexia and bulimia peaked my first semester in college at UT Austin, and I came home after finals – weak, very sick, and many pounds lighter than when I had left home (already underweight).

In that semester, as I spiraled into a sad place, I met Jesus. God placed me in a dormitory hallway with believing young women who dragged me to the Wesley Foundation every Thursday night. By God’s grace, I started opening myself up to the idea that MAYBE I didn’t have to try so hard to earn love and approval.

I showed up on Thursday nights, wanting to believe. Could his Amazing Grace really save me? Although He assured me, ”I am your shield, I am your portion,” I fought God hard.

But over time, I slowly uncurled my tightly fisted hands and opened myself up to His work.

The work is still happening today. I am still running to the well of grace and forgiveness everyday, trusting that He is enough to sustain my hunger. Trusting that His control is the only control I need to see worked out in my crazy life.

That is why I write here. I love young women. I want teen girls and young women, 13 or 19 or older to know that they are dearly cared for by God, the Father. Loved sacrificially by Jesus, His Precious Son. Loved all day long by the Powerful, Life-Changing, Redemptive Holy Spirit.

I write here because our bodies are always a part of our stories.

I know what it is like to hate my body. And I know what it is like to appreciate and love the gift of my body. I promise, the journey it takes to do the latter is worth every step.

Although our culture may tell you different, you are meant to love the precious body that God has crafted for you, Lovely Young Woman. I hope you’ll join us as we tell our stories and encourage each other to spend time in God’s Word @body_truth.

My prayer is that body_truth on IG will be one of the many truth-filled places you will run to in the morning, before you are bombarded by messages that persuade you to compare and condemn. May you be empowered to believe the TRUTH. You are intentionally and wonderfully made!