I have always been the "gorda" in my Mexican family—a term of "endearment" used for the fluffiest member of the group, sort of speak.
I remember watching a home video one day and having seen myself as a two year old toddler holding a "bolillo con leche clavel" (a french baguette type bread with carnation milk smothered all over it). My family was so enthused just watching me eat. A whole bolillo for my two year old self! See, one thing you must know is that in Latino families you must be of "buen comer" to be considered healthy and strong. Don't you dare turn away a plate from your abuelita because you will be given the stink eye. The name stuck with me most of my life; it became part of what I perceived to be my identity.
My entire life, my weight journey has been made up of hills and valleys--the stretch marks don't lie. I have been a size 3 and I have been a size 13, but always "gorda".
Ladies, have you ever woken up one morning, looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, "Why this body, God? Why was I given this body? Really God, I would've been fine with being Selena's twin." During my teenage years, I developed an all too common problem among women….yup, an eating disorder.
Get ready for this ladies...
We can all agree quinceañeras are a pretty big deal to Mexicans. I mean, the celebration is a rite of passage from childhood to womanhood. Oh! We mustn't forget, the dress, the pastel, the chambelan and damas, the surprise dance...and in my case, the pressure. The day of my celebration, I can remember getting compliments left and right about how much weight I had lost, sitting at Mass and dancing the night away to "El Caballo Dorado". In the midst of the madness I could not get one thought out of my head...
The next morning while everybody was sleeping off the fatigue, I woke up and tip-toed to the fridge where, glory to God, I found myself with my one and only— el pastel. Within seconds I was gorging down cake. I lost sight of what I was doing for that moment. As if I had woken up from a dream, I realized I had merengue all over my face. I was short of breath. My heart was racing.
What did I just do? The guilt set in... And just like that, I knew I had a BIG problem.
That happened a lot over the next years--the binging of food in private, the hiding junk food under my bed so I could secretly eat it later, the waking up with chocolate wrappers on my bed because I sleep walked to the fridge at night. Like any person who struggles with compulsive eating disorder, I would unfailingly fall into the cycle of binging, guilt and restriction (to regain illusory control)-- simply living for the next moment I could be alone and binge all I wanted.
Throughout the years, I tried absolutely everything: laxatives, portion control, avoiding trigger foods, exercising, compulsive eaters anonymous. I hated myself. Mirrors were covered up in my house because I could not stand knowing the reflection was me. Social events meant I was on lockdown because I thought "everybody will see me for who I truly am—a fat pig!"
Sisters, it has been a tough uphill to loving myself and loving my story. God never grew weary, He was always there.
The Eucharist was my saving grace. The pinnacle moment of my day was receiving communion at daily Mass. There I could hear Jesus whispering, "Nothing you do, will make me love you less Krizia...nothing. You see? I have knit every fiber of your being. You are My beautiful creation."
Without even knowing it, I began to see food as a means to God. I became vegetarian last Lent because, personally, I have found it to be a beautiful way to experience God. I can now look at my grapes and think, "Wow, God created these for my body!" He has ordered a lot of disorder.
Momma Mary, well, she is walking with me and helping me to turn everything into an act of religion—to do it for God. Truth be told, I still struggle to completely love every curve and stretch mark, but I am no longer avoiding mirrors. Now I look into my reflection and affirm my worth while she purifies the thoughts about my body, about Whose I am. She kneels next to me asking God to help me see I am more than my occasional falls (binges).
Sisters, the more we have God as our end, the more united we are to Him. Every little thing can be an act of great zeal for Him. Did you know God is attracted to Himself? That is why the more He sees Himself in you the more virtues you acquire that help you overcome. Its is a beautiful continual reaction of growth.
Through my struggle I have found a freedom.
I guess you could say I exchanged my pastel for the Bread of Life.
Krizia Rocha is a Corazon Puro missionary residing in Los Angeles. She works at Los Angles Pregnancy Services, a crisis pregnancy center surrounded by nine abortion clinics within a one mile radius in Koreatown. Recently, she received training from Women Speak For Themselves and aims to help bring to the surface how women are disadvantaged in today's culture. In a few months, she hopes to be embarking with The Culture Project in teaching Theology of the Body and making the culture fully alive.