Battling Body Image: Marci Warhaft

by Shandi Pace

 

On paper, Marci Warhaft had the makings of a perfect childhood. She had two parents that loved her and an older brother and sister. It almost seemed like it was too good to be true. That all changed when she turned ten years old.

Marci’s parents decided to get a divorce after her father’s commitment problems became too much. He left her mother with three children and no child support. This time may have been painful for the family, but it ultimately brought them closer together.

She always looked up to her brother because he encouraged her to stand up for herself. He was also protective of her, a personality trait her father lacked. When Marci was 17 years old, her brother got sick with hereditary liver disease that went undetected for most of his life.

During her final high school exam, the vice principal took her paper away and led her to the office. That’s where Marci met with her uncle, who told her Billy had passed away. “I knew a few people that had lost a grandparent, maybe, but nobody had lost a sibling,” said Marci.

This moment was a defining moment in her life, as it was the last time she truly felt safe in the world. Marci continuously battled with the thought that it should’ve been herself to go over her brother, which led her to her own problems.

Marci struggled with anorexia, compulsive exercising and overeating for a large portion of her life. It was easier for her to experience the physical pain of restricting food over the emotional pain of losing her brother.

When Marci got married, those problems didn’t seem to disappear. Instead, her husband persuaded her into doing sexual misadventures. At the time, Marci didn’t feel like herself, so she needed her partner to comfort her. He saw Marci’s pain as an opportunity to include her in different activities she had said no to in the past.

While continuing to battle body image issues, Marci found a personal trainer that she loved. She felt guilty not having the money to pay for him herself. Marci was a stay-at-home mom and didn’t want to borrow money from her husband for training. Marci turned to stripping to make up the money and to reclaim the feeling of being desired. Since Marci was already visiting strip clubs with her husband, being a stripper didn’t seem that crazy to her. This way, she could still spend all day with her children and work at night.

In her thirties, Marci entered a treatment program. She didn’t want to give up on her sons despite already giving up on herself. She relapsed multiple times with her food, but her kids saved her time and time again.

Marci didn’t want her kids and others to go through the same experiences with eating disorders. Her children would come home talking about the healthy eating program at their school that focused on the negative aspects of children’s bodies. Marci decided to speak about it to the principal, which is how she created her own workshop called Fit vs Fiction.

Fit vs Fiction breaks down the myths related to beauty and fitness. The fitness industry has a long history of inaccurate information, especially when it comes to children. Marci visits schools across the country, teaching children and young adults how to build self-esteem and self-confidence in a world filled with negative messages.

Social media has also changed the way most people look at themselves. Online culture has become a toxic hole of hateful comments and photoshopped pictures. Instead, Marci says we have to stop using social media to aspire to typical beauty norms. Instead, we should be using it to feel better. “Find the people who are sending you the messages that will build you up,” said Marci.

Marci is the author of the book The Good Stripper: A Soccer Mom’s Memoir of Lies, Loss and Lapdances. When writing her book, Marci knew she had to write each chapter out in one sitting, which often led her to write until the early hours of the morning. “I didn’t want to stay in that part of my life for more than a day. I wanted to write it and be done with it,” said Marci.

In sharing her experiences, Marci has had multiple people message her that they connected to some part of her story. “There are things they can’t share. There’s secrets they can’t tell, but it felt good to have somebody they could connect with, so they’ll tell me.”

For more information on Marci Warhaft and Fit vs Fiction, check out her website.

 

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