A Body Image Journey // Luane Davis

 Luane Davis is Mommy to Emery, and wife to Chris. Luane, also known as LuLu, is also an ex-bartender. Anyone who knows her knows she loves to cook and spend insane amounts of time with her family. She also enjoys anything DIY. LuLu grew up with very little control of her surroundings and very little stability. Because of this, she takes great pride in herself, her home, and her family.

Alwaysm: Tell me about a time that you felt negatively about your body, or yourself in general.

 LuLu: “One time? Because, it has been my whole life. Not since I had Emery did I start to actually like the skin that I’m in. Even when I was really, really skinny in high school looking back at how skinny I was, when I was in that moment, it still was not good enough. I wouldn’t wear a two-piece, I would still wear a t-shirt over my bathing suit all of the time. Then years later, I started getting more confident and it came from having Emery. I was like, ‘Yeah, I got stretch marks now. So? This *points to hipis because I like to cook. This is because I had a child. This is because I’m happy. But before it was like, ‘I want to look like this person. I want to look like that. I want my clothes to fit me the way they fit that person.’ Now it’s just…. Chris loves me, Emery loves me, I love me. That’s all that matters.”

Alwaysm: Cool. So you said you covered up a lot when you were younger? Was that something that was expected of you, or that you chose to do?

 LuLu: “No, well… I put my step-dad in prison for forty years for raping myself and my sisters at a very young age for years and years. It stopped when I was around nine, and that’s right when I was coming into being a young woman. I always had misconceptions of what beauty was. I looked at myself differently than most nine year old girls would look at themselves because I was used in a different way. I never use it as an excuse, but I knew deep down that my perception of beauty was skewed because I was so screwed up from such a young age, literally from two to nine years old. And that’s when you’re soaking everything up. Some people never get over that stuff. It took me about twenty-eight years. I have to retrain myself basically. I had to be a toddler again. When someone gives me a compliment instead of saying, ‘Oh, no no’ I have to tell myself, ‘Just say thank you, Luane.’ My sister’s are older, so I think it affected me more than them. I took it out on all the people around me, I looked for love in all the wrong places, in makeup and in hair. Now, it’s a healthy thing, but then it was a cover up. I couldn’t be without any of the makeup, the cool hair, the cool clothes, I could never just be me and be comfortable with that.”

Tell me what sort of thoughts did you have to fight, and how did you get through that?

“I think the biggest part was what I saw when I looked in the mirror. There was a point in my life when I was seventeen I stopped taking all of the medications I had been prescribed by all of these different doctors. My step-dad's trial was when I was thirteen, so after that it was therapist upon therapist, doctor upon doctor, and everyone was prescribing me things for something that probably wasn’t even there. Nobody wanted to get to the root of the problem which was how I perceived beauty and love. Everybody just wanted to cover it up with another medication. So when I was seventeen I didn’t know what it felt like to just be normal-- to not have to take something to just be normal. I was having to take something to get out of bed, and to go back to bed. To take something in the middle of the day to keep going. Take something to not be depressed. I didn’t know how people do it, so I just quit taking everything. It was summer when I was seventeen and I was in California with my dad. I stayed in my room for about two weeks, and basically detoxing off of all that sh*t. Adderall, Dezoral, Prozac, Paxil. All this sh*t that should not have been given to a child my age. Or even a teenager.”

How long were you on all of these?

 “My whole adolescence. The whole time. So, I detoxed myself and I felt really really good but my body went into shock and within the span of about six months I went from 120 lbs to almost 200 lbs. When I was eighteen I weighed 220 lbs, that was my largest size. I never really noticed it because I was so happy. My mom pulled me out of school early because kids started bullying me because I got big. But I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel any different The stuff that I would normally eat was affecting my body differently now because I didn’t have all of the chemicals inside of me. But, I didn’t have an eating disorder until later. I didn’t notice my weight until I started dating again when I was nineteen years old. Then, I was on a mission to get skinny again. I don’t have patience, even to this day, so I just started trying to find ways to lose the weight fast. That’s when I became bulimic. I lost weight really fast. I got skinny. I felt great about myself, at least I thought I did. When I was fat I would walk by a window and see my reflection and think, ‘That’s not me. That’s not who I am. That person I see in the reflection ate me. I’m in there somewhere.’ Then later I would see my reflection and think, ‘Oh, I’m skinny again.’ But something was always missing. I was never fully satisfied with how I looked. On a daily basis I would look for other things to make myself look pretty, like makeup and hair. I would look for it in other things as well, like hook-ups. When I was bartending, I can’t tell you how many times I woke up and didn’t know where I was. It doesn’t last long. It’s very temporary, the high that you get off of that. It wasn’t until I met Chris that the things I never had growing up started happening; like stability, security, he respects me, he supports me. Those things I never really had no matter how hard people tried to give them to me, I just didn’t want them. But this time it was coming from somebody who didn’t know me, and didn’t owe me anything. That’s when I started to see myself differently. Literally, the day I had Emery and I held her in my arms everything else just fell off, like dead weight. I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care if it took five years to lose my baby weight, I didn’t care if I never did. I mean I did want to, but my priorities completely shifted. I wish I had been someone’s priority when I was growing up so they would have given me the affection and attention that I needed to get there quicker. But, I just had to wait a little longer. Chris came along and got me there. I mean, suicide… there are so many things that came into play when it comes to body image.”

How do you think that time you spent being overweight would have been different for you, had there not been an outside pressure to be skinny?

 “I think, honestly, it was a blessing. I was a chunky kid, and I didn’t grow into my teeth until I was a teenager. Looking back at childhood pictures I was chunky, dark haired, white freckles, buck teeth, I just looked like… nobody wanted to be my friend, right? Then I started doing makeup and started losing weight because I started taking all of these medications. I wasn’t meant to be fat person. All of the sudden when I got thin, everybody wanted to be my friend. I knew how to do my makeup, my hair. People that knew me when I was seven, were like, ‘Oh my gosh. You’re LuLu?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool now.’ It was a blessing that I got fat, really. Because now when I meet people, I almost step out of my body for a moment and put myself back in my fat body. I ask myself, ‘Would this person be talking to me and want to spend time with me if I was in my fat body? Are you talking to me because I’m pretty, and you want a pretty friend? Or do you think I’m fun? Be real.’ I never had thought about that stuff until I got big, because ninety percent of the people I thought were my friends, wanted nothing to do with me when I got fat. And the friends I had when I was fat, they were real friends. I was never popular because I was friends with everybody, I was friends with the goths and the geeks and the jocks, because I wanted everybody to like me. I never cared about what anyone else looked like, but I realized when I got bigger that most people are very shallow.”

Let me ask you a final question. You said that you loved these tights you’re wearing. What makes you like them so much?

 “I love them because they are different, unique. I bought these online. I love, love, love funky patterns. Every time I put them on, I just feel so confident. When I walk into Kroger, I can know that no one else is going to be wearing these things. And if they are, then we are probably soul mates.”

*This interview was lightly edited for clarity and brevity