#MyAfter Portrait Series: Nicole Rohr Stephani

December 13, 2016 • #MyAfter, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Mental Health, Recovery, Self Care • Views: 1561

With our #MyAfter portrait series, Body Boop is completely shaking up your perceptions about what having an eating disorder looks like, and what being recovered from an eating disorder looks like.

  • You do not have to be skinny to have an eating disorder.
  • You do not have to be bigger than you were previously to be recovered from an eating disorder.
  • Your life experience does not have to include in-patient or out-patient experience to have had an eating disorder.
  • A formal diagnosis is not required to validate your eating disorder experience.
  • If you are from a marginalized community including but not limited to LGBTQ, different ethnicities and cultures, and men, your eating disorder experience is true and valid.
  • If you are a white college-age woman, what everyone expects of an eating disorder, it is not just for attention or vanity. Your eating disorder experience is also true and valid.

If you say you have had an eating disorder or that you are recovered from an eating disorder, we hear you, we see you, and we believe you.

We are no longer interested in “before” pictures from when people were sick! Let’s see where you are NOW, healthy and in love with life. And even if you’re not there yet, you’re on your way.

I thought long and hard about including myself in this portrait series. It felt a little vain and promotional to me, but knowing that I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and that I’ve been through some of the hardest physical challenges and the biggest stressors of my life this year, I thought it was important to emphasize that it’s okay if your body changes, many times due to circumstances. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself, and that’s hard, but this picture that I chose – while I’m not happy with the way I look – it shows joy and confidence. It shows me embracing life regardless of the pounds. And the real victory is that I maintained my recovery throughout those major stressors this year.

Nicole Rohr Stephani – #MyAfter Series, September 2016 Photo by Brad Ogbonna, Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe by Jacob Leatherman

Skinny does not mean happy – I have learned that 100 times over this year. My husband loves me regardless of the weight that I’ve put on, and he knew me when I was controlling my weight through over exercising and restriction. I was not happy then.

I have to look at the stretch marks and know that I’ve earned them. I have to toss out the clothes that don’t fit and come to grips with the fact that I may never be that size again. I cry a lot about my body changing, that does not come without pain. But I am completely unwilling to go back to the behaviors I used when I was sick. It was not a life, and it totally overtook my thoughts, my actions, and my relationships.

If I go back to my eating disorder, that means sacrificing my future family for the way I look, or giving up Body Boop and helping other people because I wear a bigger size in leggings? When you type it out, it really doesn’t make any sense at all, but eating disorders carry with them powerful voices. It is a daily fight to push back against those thoughts, and if you’re reading this and you’re struggling or recovered, I know you know what I mean.

This month, I have noticed a lot of people comparing photos of themselves in 2006 to current 2016 photos. You want to know where I was this time in 2006? Crying on my dorm bed on the phone with an insurance agent so that I could get placed in a residential treatment center.

My 10-year recovery anniversary is in March 2017, and I’m gonna throw the biggest party you’ve ever seen. I do not need to look back at those photos from a time when I lived with my head over a toilet. I’m doing hard work to adjust to the body I have now, and I will keep fighting any fleeting desires to go back to such a painful time because I looked thinner. It’s just not worth it.

I hope you read this and know that you are powerful and that you can chose recovery. It’s not easy, but a better life is waiting for you.

Please share on social with the hashtags #MyAfter #edrecovery! Are you a photographer or recovered individual interested in participating in the next installment of #MyAfter? E-mail me at mybodyboop@gmail.com.

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