Learning to love herself. Jinger Duggar opened up about overcoming body image issues in her teenage years.
“I think in this culture around us, there is so much talk about what true beauty is and what we’re defined by — if it’s by how we look, how we were raised or how popular we are, whatever those things may be,” the Counting On star, 27, exclusively told Us Weekly. “For me, the wrestling was with my weight and my body image, even though I was very in shape and I didn’t need to lose weight. I felt like I needed to; as a 14-year-old girl, I was really wrestling with that.”
Duggar chose to share her struggles in her and husband Jeremy Vuolo’s book, The Hope We Hold. “In the book, we tell that story and how I walked through that and how difficult it was, and that was one of the bigger things that I was thinking, OK, especially now, I just feel like it’s such a timely thing to talk about,” she explained. “I haven’t been open with a lot of people about that.”
The reality star revealed that Vuolo, 33, and her mom, Michelle Duggar, were some of the only ones who were aware of her battle. “I talked to Jeremy,” she noted. “He knows about that, of course, from day one and my mom, but I think just those [issues] that I had, I wanted others to be able to see that they’re not alone and that there are answers for that. And you don’t have to feel like you have to measure up to a certain standard of beauty or personality or whatever it may be, but [it’s about] just accepting who you were made to be.”
Jinger confessed that she still finds herself questioning her weight at times, but she has learned to accept herself. “I think it’s something that I feel like I have really just found my identity in Christ and, like, realizing, ‘OK, I don’t have to measure up,’” she detailed. “There are days where I feel like it will come up in my mind for a second, but it’s not something that I struggle with on a daily basis. I mean, everybody will look in the mirror at some point and say, ‘Oh, like, I feel terrible.’ Or if I’ve [been] eating super unhealthy, like, ‘I know, OK. I just got to get back on track.’”
The TV personality praised Vuolo for being her rock when she needs to air out her thoughts. “I talked to Jeremy about those things and he’s been a great person — he listens well,” she gushed. “It’s amazing, like, just being open and talking about those things when they do come up. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Jinger wrote in the book that she tried “extreme dieting” for one month before admitting it to her mother.
“I skipped breakfast each morning by sleeping as late as I could so that nobody would know I hadn’t eaten. Then, I’d eat a super light lunch and a healthy snack before dinner, so I could honestly say I wasn’t hungry and pick at my food,” she recalled. “At night, I’d go to bed before my stomach could rumble too loudly. It seemed reasonable at the time. I didn’t realize that my little weight loss plan was teetering dangerously on the edge of an eating disorder. … I had to be skinny. If this is what it took, then I would do it, I decided, no matter how hard it was.”
The Hope We Hold is available now.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi